Winter can be an unexpectedly productive time in the garden. Though the rampant new growth and budding blooms of spring are yet to arrive in the majority of the garden, the vegetable beds can be chock-full of delicious, fresh winter vegetables.
You might think you’ve said goodbye to salads until summer, but winter is actually the perfect time to fill your garden patch with leafy greens. Lettuce, rocket, spinach, silverbeet, snap peas and snow peas are among those that do well – if not better – in Sydney’s quasi-winter. Asian greens also get their time to shine now, so plant up bok choy, pak choy and Chinese cabbage; these fast- and easy-growing greens are rewarding for the novice gardener and you’ll really notice the difference when they’re fresh from the garden, rather than wilting on the supermarket shelf. Now is also the time to plant coriander (a great match for those Asian greens!); this tricky customer has a tendency to bolt immediately if you try growing in the warmer months, so winter is your best chance for success.
Winter root veg
Winter might not be the flashiest time of year in the garden, but there’s plenty of magic going on under ground. Now is the season for root vegetables like radishes and beetroot. Our top tip with these is to plant from seed, rather than seedlings, and for best results, try using seed tape. This ingenious product has seeds neatly positioned and perfectly spaced, so you don’t have to worry about overcrowding in the vegie patch. Seed tape is also handy if you’re planting rocket from seed – or anything with a very fine seed, as overcrowding leads to sick plants.
Winter planting tips
Just as with spring or summer plantings, preparation is the key to success; dig in compost and manure before putting in your seedlings. Frost isn’t an issue in most parts of Australia, but if you’re in a chilly inland position, putting down straw mulch will help keep the soil warm. Cold frames (a simple greenhouse) can also help protect tender new seedlings if your climate is colder than average.
But the most important element for a successful winter vegie patch is feeding. All fast-growing plants need a good supply of nutrients and liquid fertiliser is the best choice, easiest for plants to take up when the weather is cold. With just a little effort, you’ll have a bumper harvest of fresh veg all through the winter months!