Jackie French advises on the best in winter veges, plus what to plant.
The miracle winter vege patch
The breeze is warm, the soil is cold. This is still winter planting time, but as buds swell, the urge to plant is strong. Most spring veges will wither if you plant them now, or go to seed as soon as the weather warms up. You need miracle plants that wait until the right time to sprout.
1 Potatoes: A home-grown spud is as luscious as a backyard tomato. Plant seed potatoes about 20cm deep and wait. As the soil warms, they will grow.
2 Peas: Don’t let bland frozen peas blind you to the sweetness of peas fresh from the garden. Think climbing peas; novella shelling peas that have massed tendrils instead of leaves, so they don’t need staking as they support
themselves; crisp snow peas that the kids will eat straight from the garden, so you will be lucky to harvest any for the kitchen; or sugar snap peas that you eat pods and all.
3 Onions: Plant the early flat white variety, so sweet you can crunch them raw, or eat them thinly sliced in salads or baked whole in olive oil. Spring onions will become perennial, always there when you want the green tops for chopping.
4 Chives: It is impossible to have too many chive plants. Plant them in the garden, in pots or hanging baskets, then scatter them on everything from mashed spuds to pizza topping.
5 Weird and wonderful roots: Jerusalem artichokes, which are deeply sweet (but their resistant starch content means the kilojoules pass through you undigested); crisp fat yacon; small pink oca (New Zealand yams) that must be bleached in the sun after harvest for a few days; asparagus and artichoke roots that will sprout in spring – plant them all now so you can enjoy them for summer eating. 6 Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, goji berries, loganberries, thornless blackberry – this is the time to plant them all, then dream of summer feasts.