Vegetables To Grow In Winter

What vegetables to grow in winter is dependant on what climate zone you live in – do you

Onions are a popular cool season vegetable to grow

Onions are a popular cool season vegetable to grow

get frost?  See the climate zone map here if you are not sure. Does your garden get enough sun in winter. My vegetable garden is in full shade during winter. Once you think about how cold it gets and what the sun is doing at your place you can decide what to plant and where.

Many vegetables grow well through the cooler months. In temperate and warm climates, it’s possible to grow winter vegetables including leafy greens.

Cool season vegetables grow best when temperatures are between 50-68 ° F  (10-20°C)  or sometimes even lower.

Most winter vegetable plants are quite hardy and will cope well with cold weather, but most are frost sensitive.  If you get frosts where you live you will probably need to cover  your vegetables to protect them from the cold.

 

Garlic takes a while but it is worth the wait

Garlic takes a while but it is worth the wait

Cool season vegetables include: artichoke, asparagus, fava beans (broad beans) carrots, cabbage,  beans, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, garlic, onions, spring onions, peas, radish, perpetual spinach

Cabbage and cauliflower grow well in winter

Cabbage and cauliflower grow well in winter

, spinach and turnips.

Most can be planted or sown directly outdoors to ensure that your winter vegetable garden is fully stocked.

Make sure you remember to water but not too much garden beds won’t dry out as quickly in winter as they do in spring and summer.

Other possibilities

If the weather is mild or you have a sheltered garden that is protected from frost you may be able to start some plants in late winter rather than waiting for early spring. It really depends on your microclimate. If you think it’s warm enough where you live have a go what will you have lost a couple of dollars if you don’t get frost you should be OK I managed to grow a great crop of broccoli and cabbage in full shade last winter.

Vegetables that may be suitable for this  include artichokes (Globe and Jerusalem), beetroot, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and radish.

Get a Head Start

Frost-sensitive vegetables such as capsicum, eggplant and tomatoes can be started earlyPropogating-tray indoors will need a warm spot to germinate.  You can get a propagating tray with a heat mat like the one on the right to help you raise seedlings early. This ensures that the soil is consistently warm enough.

Frost-Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also get various covers that can go over your garden to protect your plants from frost and increase the temperature. Of course a greenhouse would be the ultimate luxury but most people don’t have them.

 

  • Winter is the usual time to plant and prune soft fruits including strawberries other berries and currants.

Raised Garden Bed – Review

Review Raised Garden Beds

If you want a raised garden bed and you are a bit handy you can buy all the stuff and make it yourself or you can can buy a kit.  Timber is always a good choice, although you should be careful using treated timber,  you can make one out of breeze or besser blocks there are also a few around that are made out of colorbond metal like a water tank. It just needs to be strong enough to contain the soil, deep enough for the roots to grow and retain the moisture and open enough for excess water to drain away.

Be Careful What You Buy

There are heaps of raised gardens on the market that come in kit form that are marketed as being perfect for both first time vegetable grower and experienced gardeners. I thought it might be a good idea to have a look at some and see how they stack up. The questions that you need to answer are:

  • Is it deep enough – I’ve looked at quite a few and the big problem I see with a lot of them is that they are too shallow.  The ones that sit on the ground are fine as you are really just containing the normal garden soil and so the plants and your garden bed can go down into the soil. The ones that are elevated, which are really just a big pot, need  to be at least a foot (30cm deep) so there is enough soil to deal with the depth of the vegetable roots and so it doesn’t dry out too quickly. It won’t be full right to the top either so a 9 inch one will end up being 7-8 inches almost useless in my opinion.
  • Is it sturdy enough – it must be strong enough to hold the soil in if they aren’t strong enough they will bow out with the weight of the soil and fall apart. Look for one that has a brace to strengthen it if it’s made of timber.
  • Is it durable – it needs to last a few years sitting out in the sun and rain and it will be constantly wet from the inside as well
  • Does it fit in my space – check the measurements carefully.

These are my 3 best buys

4-in-1 Modular Raised Bed

Four ways to put it together makes it suitable for lots of situations

Four ways to put it together makes it suitable for lots of situations

It’s made from colorbond steel so should be really durable and won’t need a brace. There is a two year manufacturer warranty.  You can set it up in 4 different ways. It is 15 inches deep so plenty of room for roots. It sits directly on the ground so drainage won’t be a problem. It has a plastic strip which goes around the top so the edges won’t be sharp. You just need a screwdriver to put it together. It’s reasonably priced at $199. It doesn’t have a bottom so it should be placed on a surface like grass, dirt or gravel rather than on a solid surface. In my opinion this is an excellent product. You can get the details here

Set it up in one of four shapes: 4′ 9″ L x 3′ 11″ W 6′, 10-1/2″ L x 1′ 9-1/2″ W; 5′ 5-1/2″ L x 3′ 3″ W or 3′ 3″ square all configurations are 15 inches deep. It holds approximately 2114 quarts of container mix, but you can also add topsoil and compost in with the container mix. 

Gronomics MRGB-2L 48-48 48-Inch by 48-Inch by 13-Inch Modular Raised Garden Bed, Unfinished

  •  No tools required  – it all just slides together slides together 
  • Made in the USA from western red cedar
  • Rough sawn rustic look – you can get a smooth finish one as well but they are twice the price I like the look of this one.
Each 4×4 kit comes with 8 side slats, and 4 corners. This kit is modular  which allows the corners to add more slats to be connected to extend the bed. The modular one will let you add to your beds in the future if you want to whereas the non modular one from the same company does not give the same flexibility. If you want to put together longer beds. A 4×8 kit costs twice as much as a 4×4 kit, so I think you get more flexibility if you purchase the several 4×4 modular kits. If you buy a 4×8 kit you get 14 side slats and 6 corners. If you buy 2 4×4 kits, you get 16 side slats and 8 corners for the same price – and more flexibility. Two smaller beds will also be stronger than one long bed. You can set them up separately so you can access the bed from all sides this way you will be able to use all the space for vegetables and won’t need a space for stepping. At less than $100 this looks like  a good buy to me. Get the details here
If you want one that is higher this one looks good to me

Gronomics REGB 24-48 24-Inch by 48-Inch by 30-Inch Rustic Elevated Garden Bed, Unfinished

It is from the same company as the one above so if you want one of each they will match.Raised garden Bed It has all the advantages of the one above in that it is deep enough and strong enough and durable plus it is higher so you won’t need to bend over as far. I really like these.  Just make sure you have space for it as at 4 feet long it is bigger than it looks in the picture. This company has lots of different sizes for all different situations. It’s  more expensive than the one that sits on the ground but a still think it’s good value at $169.00. You can get the details here

If you have any questions or comments please add them and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

What Vegetables To Grow

OK so you’ve decided you want a vegetable garden. You’ve thought about where to put it and you’ve decided how it should look. Now you want to get some information on what vegetables to grow.

  • First thing you should consider is your climate or planting zone. I wrote a page about this already so check it out here.  This should give you some info about what will grow where you live.
  • What time of years is it – should you be growing winter, spring or summer crops.
  • Next thing is to think about what your family likes to eat. There is no use growing brussel sprouts if your family won’t eat them.
  • How much you get for your effort is also a good way to decide what to plant.

    Its better to grow small cabbages that take up less space in your garden

    Its better to grow small cabbages that take up less of your valuable growing space

Climbing plants like beans and peas grow on a trellis so they take up vertical space but very little ground space.

Cucumber grow well on a trellis

Cucumber grow well on a trellis

Cucumbers can also be grown up rather than out very successfully. Tomatoes and capsicums give a great yield for the space they take up. How much space they need to grow is also a good reason to grow or not grow something. There is a lot more to a growing cabbage than what you see at the supermarket – some varieties take up a fair bit of space. Plants that you can cut some off and they regrow are also valuable additions to your patch. Broccoli, celery, loose leaf type lettuces, rhubarb, silverbeet and spinach are great vegetables that you can pick over a long time. New varieties of plants are being developed all the time. Small or dwarf varieties of cabbages, mini iceberg lettuces, small zucchini plants that grow on a more compact plant rather than rambling all over the place are now available.

Herbs are a great value for the space they use

They can all be picked and picked  and they just keep growing back. Just think about how much you are likely to eat though. A friend recently remarked how he had no trouble at all growing herbs and that corriander was coming up in his lawn it grew so well – his problem was eating them. I find we can eat all our basil, chives and parsley a fair bit of the oregano but struggle to find much to do with the marjoram. Herbs are great companion plants though and can be really beneficial in the vegie patch.

Best Yield Plants

Some of the best home garden vegetables based on yield for growing space are listed below. Choose the smaller varieties if you can find them:

Beans – dwarf and climbing. Broccoli -pick and come again varieties, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage – get the small varieties, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower – get the small ones, cucumber, lettuce – I find the loose leaf or mini icebergs the best, marrow, onion, parsnips, peas – climbing, Radish, rhubarb, silver beet, spinach, tomato and turnip.

Successive Plantings

Many gardeners, when first starting out, make the mistake of planting too much at once. The beds quickly fill up and everything becomes ready to eat at once. For a supply of vegetables over a longer period make small successive plantings. When I buy seedlings I  buy three single tomato plants of different varieties –  I usually buy one largish round

Plant different types of tomatoes rather than a lot of the same

Plant different types of tomatoes rather than a lot of the same

variety, one cherry and one roma. Then once they are well on their way in the garden I might buy a couple more. It is a more expensive way to buy them but I think it’s crazy to buy six of the same variety at once you end up with to many of the same thing at the same time and no space to plant other things. I just plant one capsicum plant at a time. Unless I can find someone to share them with I rarely buy more than a couple at a time of anything. There are only two of us so we don’t need six cucumber plants we just need one or two. Then maybe another later as the first two are well on their way. I also plant things that can be eaten at different stages – sugar snap peas are great example of this they can be eaten before the peas are fully developed like a snow pea and then as they mature they can be used as normal peas that you shell. Beans as well can be eaten at all different stages. Capsicums also can be eaten green or red. Carrots and beetroot can be eaten when small and big. Baby beetroot leaves are also great in a salad.

 

 

Growing Vegetables In Containers

Growing vegetables in containers is really no different than growing them anywhere – they need good soil, good sun – about six hours a day for fruiting varieties, a good supply of water and good drainage. A container can be

Containers come in all sizes

Containers come in all sizes

anything you want it to be from the most expensive decorative pot to an old shoe.  It can can be a great way to reuse rather than chucking it out. Really, many raised garden beds are just big containers.

A pot like the one on the right can be perfect for growing salad greens, herbs or strawberries.

Polystyrene boxes make great economical containers for vegetables. Just put a few holes in the bottom for drainage fill it with dirt and you are on your way.

Growing vegetables in containers can be a great way to introduce yourself to growing vegetables to see if how much you like it before you start digging up your yard. If your garden soil is difficult to dig like clay or rocks vegetables in containers is a great way to solve your problem. It also gives you great scope for managing the environment – too hot near that wall – move it to the other side of the yard – perfect.

Some plants are perfect for pots others not so great. Herbs in particular are great in containers. Plants like mint which can grow wild in the garden should always be grown in a container. Most tomatoes are great in containers – some grow huge just be careful what you choose.  While I’m not sure  that I’d put pumpkin in a pot, cucumbers grown up on a trellis instead of along the ground could be great. As a general rule the harvest yield will be a bit lower when things are grown in pots.

Make sure you put drainage holes in whatever you use.

Tips

  • You should use a good quality potting mix  – not garden soil
  • Make sure the pots are clean – if you are using pots that have been used before make sure you give them a good clean
  • Use bigger pots rather than small as it will give the roots plenty of space to grow and they won’t dry out as quickly.
  • Vegetables grow quickly and generally have a pretty good root structure they will fill up a pot really quickly.
  • If you are planning to move them around think about how heavy they will be with moist soil in them – do you need to put them on wheels?
  • Plants grown in containers need all the same things as those grown in the ground
    Tomatoes in pots still need a stake

    Tomatoes in pots still need a stake

    need – like a trellis to grow up for beans and peas and some sort of support structure for tomatoes.

  • Make sure the pot is deep enough – root vegetables like carrots and beetroot need a good soil depth of at least 12 inches to grow.
  • Think about what variety to grow. You can get carrots that are round rather than long and patio varieties of some plants which are more compact.
  • Thinks about what your pots will be made from. Porous containers like terracotta  will suck the water out of the soil so you may need to water them more often.
  • Think about the wind  some containers or  pots will blow over if it’s windy especially if the plant, like a tomato for instance, is tall.
  • Be careful if you live in a hot climate a pot plant sitting in the hot sun all day will get a lot hotter than one planted in the ground.
  • Make sure there is plenty of airflow around the plants and that the sun gets to all of them. Increased humidity caused by being too close together can help in the development of some diseases.

How big should the container be?

Vegetables are vigorous growers, so big containers are best. Small plants such as lettuce need a pot that’s at least  8-9″ (20-25cm) deep and about  12″ (30cm) wide, while more robust plants such as tomato and eggplant (aubergine) demand pots that are  12″-15″ (30-40cm) deep and  15″-20″ (40-50 cm) wide. As mentioned above look out for more compact varieties of plants. Plastic or other lightweight pots will be easier move them around if you need to.

How Many Should I put in Each Container

This really is dependant on the container just use the guides provided on the back of seed packets or on the tag that comes with the seedlings.  I always plant things just a little closer than they recommend – nothing has died yet!

 

 

 

 

Raised Vegetable Garden Beds

Raised Vegetable Garden Beds are a great way to grow your vegetables.

Raised garden bed

A raised vegetable garden bed like this one is perfect.

Raised garden beds take many forms from the ones you build yourself from scratch to the ones you buy and plonk on the ground and fill up with soil.

There are many advantages of raised garden beds

  • Less Bending this can be a real bonus for anyone with back problems.
  • Weeding is much easier so long as you don’t make the bed too big you can reach the weeds more easily.
  • Good over paving – you can put some of them on top of any flat surface.
  • Solves your Soil problems – if you have problem soil like lots of rocks, heavy clay soil or even really sandy soil a raised garden bed can save you heaps of work trying to improve your natural soil.
  • Adds height to your garden – sometimes you just want to add a bit of interest in your garden the addition of height can be just the thing.
  • good idea for renters – while it may not be the easiest thing to do you can just pack it up and take it with you when you move.
  • Pest prevention – raising the bed can make it more difficult for rabbits, dogs and other animals to get to your crops. It should also cut down on slugs and snails.
  • Improved drainage
  • There are lots of options
  • The smaller ones can be great for small areas like balconies.
  • If they a small you may be able to move them around periodically if you need to.
  • Less bending so they a re perfect for people that are less able to bend and dig.

So why doesn’t everyone have one?

  • Cost –  they cost more than just digging a hole in the ground. Not only will you have to pay for the materials for the walls of the bed you also need to fill them with lots of new soil and compost.

    They can be really handy

    They can be really handy

  • Filling it can be a pain – where are you going to get the soil to go in it.
  • Heating and cooling- the soil in a raised bed will heat up and cool down more quickly than a bed in the ground.
  •   If your bed is raised off the ground it will probably need more water as the increased air flow will dry the soil out more quickly.
  • Looks – some people find them really unappealing to look at
  • How are you going to dig it? Sometimes you need to dig things like compost in it can be more difficult to dig depending on how high it is and you will probably need to use small hand tools rather than a spade.

Ground Preparation

If the sides of your raised bed is over a foot high you probably need little or no ground preparation. If you are putting it on a hard surface like concrete so long  as it is pretty flat you’ll need none. If you are putting it over a grassed area and it is less than 1 foot high you will need to dig out the existing grass and remove any weeds otherwise the grass and weeds will just grow up through your garden – beleive me you don’t want this to happen. You can either dig up the existing grass, spray it with a glyphosate containing weed killer or cover it with a thick layer of newspaper – about 20 sheets. You will need to wait for the grass or weeds to die off then give it a dig over to improved the drainage before putting your new raised bed on top. Make sure you leave an area around the bed grass free or eventually the grass will grow up into the bed. If you have a problem with digging pests you may need to put down some wire so they can’t dig under it.

Filling a Raised Garden Bed

Remember vegetables need a depth of about 12 to 18 inches of good rich soil to grow.

The soil needs to be rich and should include lots of compost and manure. If you purchased a raised planter kit it should come with some recommendations for how to fill it.

You can buy premium planter mixes or garden mixes from your local garden centre.  If your bed is deeper than about 18 inches you can use sand or any other soil to fill up the bottom I would avoid clay as you don’t want affect the drainage. If you have access to some good garden soil by all means use it in the bottom section but you should have 1 foot to 18 inches of premium quality compost rich vegetable soil mix in the top. Some gardeners use straw bales in the bottom of a raised bed but these will become waterlogged, rot down and become a bit stinky over time.  Your bed will need to be topped up from time to time with premium veggie mix and compost.