The outbreak of Covid-19 in New Zealand has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people purchasing veggie seedlings from garden centres. While the circumstances are tragic, it is great to see so many people keen to get into their gardens, especially those who are newcomers to the garden. Not all gardeners plant a winter garden in normal circumstances, so it is also fantastic to see more people willing to grow veggies throughout the year.
Unfortunately, garden centres will be closed now that we are at Level 3, moving towards Level 4 in the next 48 hours. The good news is that I am running a contactless nursery in Manukau, Auckland where you can pick up plants outside our house. For details of what I am selling, click here or see the pinned post on my Facebook page.
Veggies you can plant now
If you’re short on space or don’t want to dig up your lawn, you can grow the following veggies in containers: beetroot, bok choy/pak choi, carrots (just make sure the container is deep enough), lettuce, kale, microgreens, rocket and spinach
Preparing the bed
Work lots of compost and sheep pellets into the ground prior to planting. Turn the soil over with a spade to loosen it. You may want to add some general garden fertiliser to the soil as well.
If you’re growing carrots you’ll want to skip all this and just dig the soil over and deep down, otherwise you’ll end up with forked carrots.
Cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli need lots of room to grow, so give them a wide berth.
Veggies that need about 10 cm between them include beetroot, fennel, spinach and silverbeet.
The rest can be planted about 5 cm apart. Microgreens can be spaced more closely than this. If planting in a container, you can place plants a bit closer together.
How to care for your plants
The good news is that the winter garden isn’t as high maintenance as the summer garden.
Here are some tips to care for your plants:
The time until you can harvest depends on the vegetable. Microgreens are the fastest growing veggie, maturing in around three weeks. Kale, lettuce and pak choi should be ready in 6-8 weeks. Brassicas take the longest time to mature – around 3-4 months so be patient! Once they develop, it’s a good idea not to leave them in the garden for too long otherwise they can start going to seed.
Some veggies can be harvested as you need them, meaning that you don’t have to pull the entire plant out of the ground at once. These include lettuce (the cut-and-come again variety), rocket, microgreens, bok choy, kale, spinach and silverbeet.
For fresh carrots, leave them in the ground until you need them and lift what you require.
If you want to save seeds for next season, simply allow one plant from each crop group go to seed. Store them in a paper envelope and make sure you write the name of the plant so you remember what it is.
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