Small raised garden suits winter
AS THE nights draw in, it’s easy to forget about life in the vege patch. While many are tempted to put up the closed sign for the winter, some are drawn to being able to harvest wintergreens and veges through the winter months.
If keeping your large garden going for the long months of winter seems a little daunting, an easier option could be to set up some smaller raised gardens closer to the house.
Sow carrots, winter lettuce, radishes and spinach. Carrots will take a week or two to germinate but will establish themselves before too long. Thinning of carrots is important in the autumn and winter as the growth is slower, thinning enables the roots to develop faster.
Plant cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, bok and pak choy. These are all brassicas and perform well when the days are cooler.
Salad greens can be sown or planted. Mesculun mix will happily germinate and grow through the winter months. Rocket, mizuna, corn salad, chicory and kale will feed you for months on end if kept well watered and regularly harvested. Lettuce can be easily grown through the winter months with the red-leafed varieties and cos types seeming to take better to the cooler temperatures.
Lettuce Drunken Lady a red frilly type of lettuce thrives in the winter, maybe because it likes a constant supply of liquids. It proves to be a good reliable and popular choice for both the flavour and its cheeky name.
Sow or plant fresh crops of coriander and parsley for winter pestos and soups. If you do decide to put up the closed sign for the winter and treat your garden and yourself to a holiday, treat your soil to a green manure crop; unlike the name suggests no animals are required for this. It’s an old term, which means to plant a crop (Tui mustard and lupin are popular choices), these act like manure by feeding the soil. These easy-togrow plants fix nitrogen from the air into the soil once the plants are dug into the soil in late winter. Your soil will reward you with healthy and tasty vegetables next season with a well-earned break over the winter. Economical broccoli. Don’t remove broccoli plants once you have cut the first head. New smaller heads of broccoli will appear in a few weeks below where the first one was and continue to sprout for the rest of the season. Making it one of the most economical veges to grow.
Raised beds are versatile, portable and easy to manage. They are ideal for people who have poor soil condition, small spaces and not a lot of time. All that is required is a sunny, sheltered spot. A variety of materials can be used to construct a raised garden, timber, brick, stones, concrete slabs or kit sets are all suitable.
Or create a portable garden in Haxnicks Planters or vege grow bags. The ideal width for a raised bed is 1.2 to 1.5 metres, anything wider is hard to lean over and get things done without standing on the soil. The length can be determined on the area you have or size you want, the width is the main consideration.
Once the frame is established, it’s time to fill the bed with a blend of compost, Tui vegetable mix and sheep pellets. If you have good quality topsoil, blend this in as well. Well-rotted animal manures are an economical way of filling up raised beds. After filling the beds, blend in Tui vegetable food and Saturaid. Saturaid is important as it helps the soil hold onto more moisture allowing vegetables to establish and flourish quickly.
Raised gardens are prone to drying out, this often leads to poor crop performance, hence it’s vital to keep the soil moist. Now the garden is ready to plant.
Two Haxnicks vegetable planters Two bags of Tui vegetable mix 1 punnet of mixed veges. Suggest something with broccoli, celery, rainbow beet or cabbage
One packet of mesculun mix seeds Four coriander plants or parsley Fill planter bags with vegetable mix and plant each bag with half of the vegetables and herbs.
Once watered in sprinkle the mesculun seeds over the top of the soil and moisten with a little more water. Don’t be tempted to plant more than two or three veges in each bag, once the herbs and salad greens come up there won’t be enough room for anymore.
Making gardening easy: A portable autumn vege planter can be taken anywhere.