Prepare plot for a green spring garden

By Rachel Vogan

Tightening the belt often comes hand in hand with winter. And it's not only because of rising costs of heating, fuel and food. Waistlines can feel a little tight and snug, too, thanks to the warm and hearty foods many of us lean towards when the temperatures plummet.

The simple pleasures provide so much joy during this time.

A day of sunshine feels like you have won the lottery, and with only a little investment of time you will be able to reap the rewards of what you sow and plant over winter.

What to do now:


Eat yourself healthy: maximise the health benefits of eating and planting red fruits and vegetables. Many of these are valuable sources of illness-preventing nutrients such as lycopene, which are said to reduce the risk of some cancers and cholesterol. Many can be planted and sown in winter. Radish, beetroot, radicchio, red lettuce, rhubarb and, of course, strawberries can all go in now.


Garden beds will need a feed to replace the valuable nutrients summer crops have used up. Organic options are Tui Organic compost or sheep pellets. Alternatively, blend in Novatec fertiliser to ensure the soil has all the goodies crops need to get growing. Layers of leaves, straw and manure can be added, too.


Greens are good to grow so sow or plant spinach, cabbage, silverbeet, coriander, parsley, kale, cavolo nero and rocket. All of these are happy planted either in the garden or in pots at the back door or on the deck.


Plant garlic and shallots anytime over winter. Traditionally, both these tasty members of the onion family are planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest. As the soil temperature hardly varies in winter, it doesn't make much difference to the crop when the cloves are planted during the coldest season.


You don't even need to don garden gloves to give plants the once-over for sneaky clumps of overwintering insects. Aphids are the easiest to spot in groups. When huddled together they are easy to spray and eradicate.

Slugs and snails are still about. Deal to these slime balls by laying plenty of Quash slug bait to prevent them from harvesting your crops before you can. Alternatively, get the kids active in the weekends to collect as many slugs as they can to feed the neighbourhood chickens.

Don't panic if you have put up the closed sign for the winter, the garden can look after itself. Simply cover your garden beds with Tui mulch and feed or pelletised pea straw, and walk away until spring.

You can order seed catalogues and seeds for spring sowing, plus sign up for free vege club newsletters, at

- Hamilton News

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