The winter veggie patch
Winter is one of the best times of the year to grow vegetables as there are delicious crops to grow, bothersome pests and diseases are taking a winter break and mild temperatures mean there’s less stress on both plants and gardeners. Winter veggies need a sunny spot with shelter from strong or cold winds.
Also add blood and bone or a complete vegetable fertiliser along with lime. When applying fertiliser or lime, follow recommendations on the container for the amount to be added based on the size of your garden bed.
Digging over the garden bed breaks up clods and reveals roots or unwanted material left in the soil, so it's easy to remove. The addition of compost and manure helps improve soil fertility, for a bigger and better harvest. Rake over dug soil to return it to a smooth surface ready for planting. Finally, water the soil so it is moist.
Not quite ready to plant just yet? Cover the area with a layer of organic mulch to keep the soil moist and inhibit weed growth until you're ready to get your crops in the ground.
To grow winter veggies in pots, select large pots or troughs and fill them with a good quality potting mix - something like Supersoil Professional Herb & Veggie Potting & Planting Mix is ideal. Before filling the pots, position them in a sunny but sheltered spot with easy access for tending and watering. Select small varieties that are recommended for pots, like our Patio range.
What to plant now
Crops that are harvested in winter and early spring should be planted in autumn. For ease of management, plant in rows and stagger your harvest by making plantings every few weeks. This will ensure you don't have a glut of produce ripening all at once.
One of the important parts of preparing vegetable beds for replanting is to practice crop rotation. Follow summer crops with plants from different plant families (for example, follow Solanaceae plants such as tomato with plants from a different family such as Brassicaceae). Crop rotation avoids a build up of soil-borne pests and diseases and also makes the most of soil nutrients. To help get your plant families right, we’ve compiled our list of easy-to-grow veggies to plant now in family groups.
You can plant either seeds or seedlings - obviously, seedlings will provide you with a harvest sooner than seeds will. Crops should always be planted in rows, allowing space for them to reach their mature size (see recommendations for spacing on the seed packet or seedling label). Thin out seed-grown crops that are too closely planted as the seedlings mature.
Alliaceae (onion family) leeks
Asteraceae (daisy family) lettuce
Brassicaceae (cabbage family) broccoli, broccolino, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
Chenopodiaceae (beetroot family) beetroot, silverbeet, spinach
Fabaceae (pea family) broad beans, peas
Managing your crops
Soak punnets of seedlings in a seaweed solution prior to planting to help reduce transplant shock. After planting, use the seaweed solution to water in the new plants.
As they grow, keep vegetables well-watered, boosting the growth of leafy crops with applications of liquid fertiliser such as Harvest every seven to 10 days. Hand-weed or gently hoe around the veggies to keep plants weed-free. Train climbing vegetables such as peas onto stakes or a trellis.
It's important to check foliage daily for pests, such as caterpillars, slugs or snails. All can be squashed if seen. Control caterpillars with biologically-friendly pesticides including Dipel and Yates Success Ultra. Control snails and slugs by baiting. Iron-based snail and slug baits like Multiguard are the safest choice to minimise damage to pets or wildlife.