As the cooler months approach its time to revitalise your vegetable patch with hearty root vegetables and some wintery favourites.
To prep your garden bed for winter planting start by harvesting and removing any crops that won’t thrive in the cool winter months. Next, remove any weeds and work through some organic matter such as compost or a mixture of sawdust and manure to help with drainage.
When it comes to choosing what to plant, there are still plenty of options for winter. Broad beans, peas, beetroot, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, peas, spinach, lettuce, kale, radishes and turnips all grow well in the Australian winter months. When buying, check to see which varieties will best suit the growing conditions in your area and look for hardy varieties that will be able to stand up to frost.
You might choose to plant from seeds or already sprouted seedlings. When planting seedlings, use a trowel or rake to create furrows in the soil and drop the seeds along these lines. Not only with this help you to remember where you have planted, it will also ensure that the new seedlings are watered deeply.
Plants need sun so position your plants in an area of your garden that will receive the most sun during the day. You will also want to make sure that your plants are sheltered from any harsh winds. If there isn’t an area in you garden that can provide this, you can create your own wind barriers with a paling fence, hedge or trellised climbing plants.
Another thing to consider when choosing a location for your winter veggies is crop rotation. If you are replacing an old crop with your beautiful new winter plants, avoid growing the same types of vegetables in the same spot in the garden e.g. If you harvested leafy vegetables, replace with root veggies. Different plants take different nutrients from the soil, so this ensures the soil maintains good levels of nutrients and helps prevent the build up of soil diseases.
You can give your new plants a little boost at planting time with a fertiliser such as seaweed mixture at planting time, but most plants’ growth slows during winter so there’s generally no need to use fertiliser after this initial feed until Spring.
Thanks to winter rains, you won’t need to water your plants as often during these months but it is still important to ensure that the soil is kept moist for healthy root growth. Watering your plants in the morning is a good way to help reduce the risk of any fungal diseases.
We see lots of little slugs and snails out in winter and they love munching on cabbages and leafy root veggies. To keep these greedy visitors away, try natural deterrents such as a sprinkle of garden lime or iron phosphate around your garden, or companion planting chives, leeks and nasturtiums.