As we move out of summer and into the cooler months its a good time give the old veggie patch a revamp. Say goodbye to that summer harvest and start sewing the seeds (literally - no puns here) for that winter crop.
And while it might seem too soon (no one wants to think about Winter until we really have to), its important to remember that winter crops are slower growers, and by setting up your veggie patches now you'll be ensuring a bountiful crop yield to come!
Patch, Pot or Plot
First things first - don't navigate away just because you live in an apartment or haven't got a garden. When talking veggie patches, I'm talking about anything you've got going that produces edibles. This could a be a simple herb pot on your kitchen window, or a few tomatoes growing in terracotta on the balcony. If you're lucky enough to have a garden with dedicated food production areas, even better!
Phase One: Slash and Burn
So "slash and burn" is just there for effect. It would have been much more apt to say something like 'pluck and pickle' but where is the drama in that? Basically, its time to pull out your summer veggies. Anything that is still going, consider pickling or making a little jam or chutney (green tomato chutney FTW!)
Everything else (stalks etc) can be added to your compost and then eventually go full circle and be added back to the beds. Circle of life baby!
Plant Runner Hot Tip 1: Add some Soil & Microbe Booster to your compost to speed up the breakdown of organic matter.
Phase Two: Replenish and Refresh
You're veggies will thank you if you provide them with rich, living soil. We're talking earth worms, compost and plenty of microbial life. If you have the space, and inground worm farm/compost is an easy and efficient way to keep your soil thriving. Turning through manure is great if you have a plot too, but for those of you rocking the balcony / potted veggie patch, adding some fresh mix along with our Bio Pellets is a great way to boost and replenish the soil. With over 240 million microbial colony forming units per gram, plus the added benefits of kelp, you can't go wrong.
Phase Three: Aspect
Think about the Winter sun and how much light your new crop is going to receive. If you're working with pots, maybe give those guys a shift (if necessary) to maximise the amount of sun they're going to get, Remember - your veggies are going to need at least 4-6hrs of sun on the daily.
Plant Runner Hot Tip 2: For shadier areas, plant leafy greens like lettuce, coriander and silverbeet
Plant Runner Hot Tip 3: If there is an area that just won't get enough sunlight come Winter time, don't let it sit there! Plant some green manure crops so that you can turn them through the soil and add nutrients come Spring time. You can purchase green manure seed mixes from nurseries. Check out a few options here
Phase Four: Pest Management
In general, most pest populations quiet down over winter but you will probably notice increased slug and snail activity, as well as cabbage moth caterpillars. If you can, manual removal of these pests is ideal, but deterrents like beer traps and crushed egg shells (clean them first!) are great for the slugs and snails. Dipel is a good option for caterpillars. Planting flowering plants can also attract beneficial pests into your garden to help with maintenance. Marigolds, for example, help reduce nematode attacks while Nasturtiums are ideal companion plants for tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli and cabbage.
Now that you've prepped your patch, it's time to select your crop. Below are some of our favourite winter veggies.
Beetroot, Broad beans, Bok Choi, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cabbage, Celery, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Parsley, Snow Peas, Spring Onions, Silverbeet