Carrots and peas go together like Mac and cheese they say, just healthier. Winter crop veggies are very rewarding as they grow slower are generally tastier and they last much longer. It is mostly root crop season but peas and lettuce keep the veggie patch interesting.
Many of the summer veggies and herbs have finished off early this year. The cooler temperatures expected also means it’s the perfect weather to plant your winter and spring harvest. When preparing the soil, dig in as much compost as possible to loosen the beds compacted by the summer rains.
Add Bone meal or 2:3:4 planting fertiliser along with BioGanic to replace washed away nutrients and to help boost strong root growth of the young seedlings. Once planted feed them regularly with Nitrosol to get the plants growing at their best.
Grow the best
Carrots: Carrots can be planted throughout the year except in the coldest months of Jun and July. They are fun to grow and are a great way to teach children about plants and food growing. Try different varieties for something different. Nantes is a thinner variety of carrot which generally makes them sweeter and Chantenay Karoo is a thicker carrot making them ideal for use in stews.
Carrots will grow in semi-shade to sun in most soil conditions. However, they prefer a fine textured soil with sand and plenty of compost dug into it. Depending on the size of carrot to be grown, the soil needs to be loosened to a depth which will enable the carrots to grow down into the ground easily and all stones removed to prevent distortion and forked roots.
Peas: Peas are hungry plants and need a lot of regular feeding and well composted soil. That said they are incredibly easy to grow and will provide a harvest well into early summer. The best spot is where they get full sun to afternoon sun. They are climbers and will be as happy up a wigwam or frame as on a pea net that you attached against a wall. The secret we can share is that they don’t like too much water on their leaves and peas give more harvest if you pick regularly.
Beetroot: Beetroot prefer to be grown in moist, fertile soil in a sunny spot, but will also thrive in raised beds or pots. Sow seeds directly into the soil right through to late autumn. Depending on variety, beetroot is ready to be picked when the roots are between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball - this is usually about 10 to 15 weeks after sowing. We love the idea of mixing different colours of beetroot.
Onions: Onions take ages to grow but are well worth adding to your winter veggie planting. They will only be spring ready to harvest but at any time young seedlings can be harvested as baby veg too. They are water wise and prefer a full sun spot. Don’t sow them too deep, just under the surface and they will germinate in just a few sunny days.
Swiss chard:Swiss chard can be harvested quite soon after planting and 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. 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 of seed.
Grow sum yum
Remember by giving the correct growing conditions a plant is produced that is more diseased resistant. Plant in a sunny position with at least six hours sun a day in well drained soil with plenty of compost. Good healthy soil will ensure good, healthy plants so this is probably the most important step you will take in growing your own vegetables.
Feeding with an organic fertiliser is an on-going process and regular applications are required for best results. Veggies and herbs grow with stronger structure when fed organically instead of being forced with a chemical fertiliser which results in plants that have better colour and stronger flavour. Apply BioOcean every six to eight weeks till harvest, this will give you strong plants that are less susceptible to disease and as organic produce, have the best flavour. For container grown veggies and herbs feed them every two weeks with Nitrosol.