As we enter the colder months and the sound of rain becomes a familiar and soothing background noise, you’re probably pondering your winter garden.
Winter conjures up thoughts of cozy evenings before a roaring fire accompanied by a good book and a fuzzy blanket. A much-overlooked part of winter is the delightful array of winter vegetables and herbs that thrive in hibernal weather.
A garden does not grow overnight, so it’s best to start preparing your winter crop before winter hits. Read on to discover the wonders you can weave in your garden this winter and we explore how to plant and grow a winter-ready garden:
What To Grow
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bok Choy
- Broad beans
- Spring onions
These are just a few of the things that you can plant and grow in your winter garden. Root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot, turnips, parsnips, radishes, onions and potatoes are hardy and they’re staples in winter dishes like soups, stews and roasts. Seedlings need to be thinned and need regular watering.
Vegetables in the brassica family- cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage- tend to grow slowly, so these can be planted as seedlings in late summer or early autumn. These veggies, especially cabbage, love moist soil.
Leafy greens, like spinach, lettuce and rocket, enjoy the autumn weather. As long as they don’t form a heart, the leaves can be picked as needed directly from your garden. Lettuces with a heart are picked as whole lettuce. Keep them happy with plenty of water and rich soil.
Where To Grow
While you can generally plant and grow whatever you want, some veggies prefer certain climates. For example, the subtropical climate of northern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland is wonderful for root vegetables, cabbage, lettuce, thyme, chamomile, oregano, and parsley.
In the dry inland atmosphere of the outback, pumpkin, artichoke, asparagus, broad beans and potato find joy.
Adelaide and Perth feature a Mediterranean climate perfect for growing parsley, asparagus, kale, carrots and lettuce.
The cool climate in southern Victoria and Tasmania is welcoming to chives, mint, thyme, beetroot, snow peas and leek.
North Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia have a wet & dry tropical climate that is loved by eggplant, potato, tomato, carrot, mint and dill.
In temperate Victoria and coastal New South Wales, chamomile, coriander, parsley, asparagus, rhubarb and cabbage find joy.
Now that you know what to grow, it is time to get your hands dirty and grow your garden!
It is time to wave goodbye to summer and prepare your garden for the cooler months. Salvage what you can of the remains of your summer garden and compost what is no longer edible.
With your summer veggies in the rearview mirror, rejuvenate your garden with fresh soil. Rake through manures and compost, and add cow manure, sugar cane mulch, and dolomite lime to help your winter crop.
Before you plant, map out your garden. Try to position your veggies so they get four to six hours of sun each day. Remember to rotate your crops if possible- planting the same things in the same places every year can increase the risk of disease build-up in the soil.
If you are planting early, such as at the end of summer or the beginning of autumn, sow your plants as seeds. Seeds are more cost-effective, as well as offering a wider variety of vegetables. If you are starting later in the season, especially if you are planting slow-growing vegetables, purchase seedlings and plant them directly into your garden.
The heavy rain of winter helps in watering your plants, but it’s still important to keep an eye on them and make sure they aren’t drying out or drowning in too much water. It is crucial that your crops do not dry out during the germination and seedling stage.
An additional bonus of winter is fewer pests, but don’t let your guard down! There is nothing worse than waking up to find that your precious cabbages are now only stalks. It is important to rid your garden of harmful insects without harming or repelling the beneficial ones. You can attract these helpful insects to your garden and add some beautiful colour by planting calendula, viola, pansies and alyssum amongst your veggies.
To avoid using toxic pesticides in your garden, make your own or take other measures to prevent slugs and caterpillars from invading your patch. Build a physical barrier around your garden or encourage “good” insects to inhabit your veggie patch. Praying Mantis and ladybugs act as tiny scarecrows or guards, defending your garden from harmful bugs.
Winter can bring with it an air of melancholy, but there is a silver lining. The simple joy of nurturing plants in the sharp winter air and the pride of taking seeds and seedlings and turning them into nourishing meals to warm your hands and heart truly make the dreary days worth it.