Gardening: Get ready for winter veges

By Rachel Vogan

As one tremendously hot season comes to an end, the cooler nights and morning dews signal autumn is here.

Now is the time to replenish garden beds and pots and plant vegetables, seeds and herbs to enjoy in autumn and winter.

Get started by removing any crops that have matured and been harvested.

Cut the plants into small pieces and add them to the compost bin.

Then replenish the soil with sheep pellets, NPK or blood and bone, plus some good organic compost. Blend all this together thoroughly and water in well to incorporate all the goodies into the soil.

Summer crops will have sucked valuable nutrients from the soil so it's essential to replenish the soil before planting autumn and winter crops.

Some crops may still be producing good amounts of food. Just plant around them because a punnet or two of salad veges can easily fit under rows of beans and tomatoes.

In pots and containers, remove summer crops and add vegetable mix, or mix in sheep pellets and organic compost to give the tired summer soil a boost. Some granular soil wetter will really help plants growing in pots to make the most of water, so sprinkle that in too.

Brighten up those vege pots with winter-flowering pansies and violas. These are not just pretty but edible.

The main vege seeds to sow now are quick-growing crops such as lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, mizuna, rocket and bok choy. All the other autumn crops are best planted as seedlings now to save on growing time. Sow seeds into trays of seed-raising mix, keep soil moist and transplant seedlings once they are about finger length.

It's time to save seeds of summer crops to sow next spring. Crops such as tomatoes, beans, peas, pumpkins, lettuce and rocket seed readily. Collect, dry and store in labelled envelopes.

If you enjoy soups in winter, grow crops that suit the purpose, perhaps planting a soup bed.

All these crops, if planted soon, will be ready to harvest over winter and turned into delicious soups: beetroot, broccoli, carrots, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, silverbeet, spinach, spring onions, coriander, parsley, mint, thyme and rosemary.

If you are only a spring and summer gardener, sow a green manure crop such as lupins or mustard, and leave the garden alone until next spring.

As temperatures cool slugs and snails will be back on the hunt for fresh new crops: either keep crops covered with nets or cloches or sprinkle slug bait around to send them packing.


- Hamilton News

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