March and April is when we start planting the next crop of edibles to have them ready to much over the next few months. Just in time too! Limiting your exposure in the shops and adding something fresh to the menu is never a bad thing and with COVID-19 around it's even more important.
The veggie garden also changes through autumn as the cool season plants go in and the last of the summer crop gets eaten. Keep the harvests coming into the kitchen by adding some family favourites now to harvest by mid June through to spring. If you don't have a veggie garden, how about growing some yum in a few containers on the patio or on the balcony this winter?
The warmer weather in autumn helps them establish faster and then as it cools down in May they are all ready to start producing. Now is also time to think about sowing vegetables that will give your family a thick vegetable soup this winter particularly of root crops.
As you pull out your summer crops that are ending always prepare the soil to replace the nutrients used up with the last harvest. Veggies love loads of organic matter and home-grown organic veggies even taste better than organic store bought. Always add loads of compost and bone meal in the preparation along with the organic fertiliser BioGanic. Once they are up and going feed every eight weeks or so with and feed with BioOcean to keep your crop producing.
Here are a few tips and a list of vegetables that are ideal for a winter selection.
As always our best advice is to plant veggies you know your family will eat so that the whole family gets involved in the process and you don't end up with a load of veggies going straight to the compost heap.
These vegetables are delicious in soups, roasts and thinly sliced in salads. Leeks can remain in seedbeds for two months and should then be planted in good soil and fertilised well. Fortunately, they have an exceptionally long harvesting season as they can be eaten whilst they are still small or when they are mature. Make sure that you sow a generous amount if you are growing them from seed.
Swiss chard commonly called spinach in SA can be harvested quite soon after planting and, like leeks, can be used over an extended period. They will grow in full sun to semi-shade. Look out for the new coloured veined varieties for something different.
Carrots are very easy to grow and a great way to introduce children to growing their own food. Carrots are best grown from seed as they are a root which is damaged by transplanting. A crop sown now should be ready for harvest after 100 days and will remain edible for many months. Make sure you space your carrots carefully - the best is to have about 100-120 plants per square metre. These will grow to the best size and then remain in this condition until required.
Cabbage grown for winter are sturdy and compact with very few insects attacking them. The best cabbages are grown in full sun and the best part about them is they need little water and no attention till harvest time.
Planting beetroot now will give you good quality leaves, an added bonus for those who enjoy eating beet leaves instead of spinach. If you choose the variety 'Crimson Globe', the leaves will be even more vigorous and the root quality good. The correct spacing for beets is 60-80 plants per square metre. Try the yellow beetroot, it won't stain when you cut it but has the same great taste we all know.
This is a fast-growing crop and, if you are considering sowing leeks and turnips at the same time, the turnips will be finished when the leeks are ready. You can sow turnips through to April or plant them from seedlings right through winter. Turnip tops are also excellent for soups and qualify as another soup ingredient if you pick them fresh from the garden.
Peas are easy to grow once you understand that they can be quite hungry and the more food they get the better your crop will be. You can sow through to April or plant them from seedlings right through winter. Peas will climb so it's best to plant them in a full sun spot on a trellis or over a wooden stake tepee.