Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Winter Veggie Garden

This year I am determined to have more than just silverbeet and broccoli to show for my winter veg.  I know in reality there was a bit more going on than that last year, but that is how it felt at the time.  
So this year I have been much more organised and have not only got some plants in the ground already I have another round with some new additions ready to pot on in the shade house.
I use the following method for growing from seed and it seems to work well for me.

Fill a polystyrene box with good quality seed raising mix and sow a row of each type of seed into it.
By using the polystyrene box I don't have to worry about my seeds drying out which I found I had a big issue with when I was trying to used home made news paper pots.
Because I am trying to plant a couple of rounds of each plant I try and plant out just a few seeds (about 6 - 8) of each plant at a time so that I don't get a complete glut of one thing all at once and none for the rest of the season.  I vary from this with things like fennel where I plant a few more because I know that we can eat a number of fennel bulbs in one meal where as we are unlikely to eat a number of cabbage heads or cauliflower heads in one meal. 
I also plant out a few more if I want to preserve some of them because then it is better to have them already at once and this year I have planted out an extra row of silverbeet so that I have plenty to give to the chooks over winter.
Once they have germinated and have their first set of leaves I use my mini trowel (also known as an old teaspoon) to gently dig them out of the seed raising mix and pot them on into bigger pots. 

One thing that I thing you should always do is wash your plastic pots between uses to prevent any disease or bacteria building up.  I wash mine in the laundry tub then leave them out to dry before reusing them.  Some plants like tomato's need to 1 plant into each pot but others like rocket, leeks and herbs can have a number of plants in each pot because they do not mind being planted out a bit closer or being disturbed a bit.

Once they are all potted on into bigger pots I leave these in the shade house (which is not very shady at the end where my potting bench is) to grow a bit bigger and develop a better root structure before planting them out into the garden.
Then they go into the garden and are mulched.  As you can see from the photos I was working my way in from the ends.  The rocket is already ready to start being harvested as it gets very hot if let go and is then only good for the chooks, not that they mind.
I have also gotten my garlic planted which last year did not happen till May so I am hoping for a better result this year with a longer period of cool nights.  I really love Garlic as a crop.  If you put a bit of effort into preparing the soil and get them planted in time then they are really very much a plant and leave crop.  They grow over a 6 month period and other than a liquid feed every now and then I do nothing to mine till they are ready to harvest.
Last year I forgot to count how many cloves I planted so this year I counted them, even the tiny ones which I have been told will grow a garlic bulb, just a very small one.  I'm ok with that.

So this year I have replanted from my own garlic grown last year:
Australian White - 32 Cloves
Australian Cream - 37 Cloves
Oriental Purple - 30 Cloves
I got them into the ground on Easter Monday and some of them have already sent up shoots.
So what methods do you employ for spreading out your harvest?
Do you have a favourite cool season crop?


  1. wow you sound organised! I didn't have much of a winter crop last year either, so I'm trying harder this year too. I've already got the first lot of cabbage and broccoli etc in the ground, but you have reminded me that I should start on the the next round, argh! it never ends! I should also plant more garlic, I only put 10 cloves in, you planted so many more!! Love the mini trowel, that is just what I need to deal with fiddly little seedlings, will be pinching one from the kitchen drawer asap.

    1. Liz, couldn't get onto your recent post as it says you might have a virus - glad I saw your comment here.

  2. I am also trying to have a lot of variety this year so planting smaller amounts, and I found mine grow better if I simply plant right into the ground. then I continuously crop seeds into the bare spots as needed. Your idea of planting in a big box and then taking out with a teaspoon looks good though - I often felt I was not gentle enough. Tipping them out of a little starter pot too often exposed roots.

  3. you will have a lovely thriving winter vegetable garden in a few months :)

  4. Thanks for the link to this Fiona, I may try this method if mine fail dismally!


I'd love to hear your thoughts...
Thanks for taking the time to comment