Small raised gar­den suits win­ter

Matamata Chronicle - - Gardening -

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.

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