Winter has well and truly arrived and although it’s been cold and a bit windy over the last couple of months the garden has still been producing fantastic tasting winter veggies. I reckon that this winter, due to the wind, has been one of the toughest seasons I have experienced since I moved into the Hunter region almost eight years ago.
Because of the work that I put in during the Autumn months to capture the last of the warm weather, I have been able to eat some great winter season crops. I reviewed what my plans were for the autumn veggie plantings before I started to write this blog, just to see how close I stuck to what I intended (check it out here). But what’s a good plan unless you can ‘improve’ on it (i.e. make it up as you go along!) But I was reasonably close to what I said I would do.
I have fifteen garden beds in my patch and right now there are quite a few beds empty that I am absolutely itching to plant. But before I go ahead and put in the wrong things at the wrong time, I need to spend some time to develop a new plan. So, with a good coffee providing me with inspiration, here is what I am intending to put into the veggie patch over the coming months.
The planning secrets
Bed one. After a crop of Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflowers, I rested the bed by sowing a green manure crop of Broad Beans. In about 4 weeks I’ll dig it into the soil and add some mushroom compost. The first week of September will see me testing the spoil pH and adjusting it for the first planting of Tomatoes. I’ll add Epsom Salts, Potash, and some mixed fertilizer. I want to give them every chance of being the most prolific crop I have ever grown.
Bed two. Currently Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale and Cauliflower are growing under insect mesh. They are doing well, in a bed that was heavily manured before I planted them. So this time I’ll only add some mushroom compost and wait until the Sweet Corn is underway before I determine if I need to add some pelleted manure to boost the crop.
Bed three. Asparagus is not far from emerging and this will be the sixth season I have had them in this spot. They have been top dressed with pelleted manure and lightly covered with sugar cane mulch and all I need to do now is wait for them to emerge.
Bed four. Broad Beans are currently flowering and will be at least 8 more weeks before they are done. They are very leafy and I will dig them back into the bed when they are finished. Doing this adds a lot of organic material into the soil and to help it decompose I’ll add a couple of bags of chicken manure. A couple of weeks later in mid October the bed will be planted with Zucchini and Cucumbers.
Bed five. Onions and garlic are doing OK and will keep growing at least till November. Last season I followed my Garlic crop with a batch of Sweet Potatoes and it was the best crop I have ever grown. So I’ll do the same. I will add a lot of manures and mushroom compost as well as mixed fertilizer just like last time, and see if I can repeat the result.
Bed six. I have to relocate a couple of rhubarb plants out of bed five before I add a lot of mushroom compost. This bed is low in organic material and mushroom compost will help to add what I need. In 6 weeks or so I’ll add some blood and bone and mixed fertilizer and plant a batch of Potatoes.
Bed seven. Snow Peas and Silver Beet will be producing for at least 6 weeks before they are done. Bed seven will be where I plant my cherry tomatoes and a couple of capsicums so it will receive the same treatment as bed one.
Bed eight. I am growing the best looking Chinese Cabbages, Coriander and Silver Beet and it will not be empty until October. Bush Beans will follow. The preparation will only be some mixed fertilizer and pelleted manure.
Bed nine. After a miserable crop of spuds I decided that bed nine needed some serious work. I raised the height of the bed 3 weeks ago, added the contents of one of the compost bins, some chicken and cow manure as well as mushroom compost. It has been covered with sugar cane mulch and I planted Silver Beet, Lettuce and Kale. They are growing well and will occupy this spot right through the spring months. As a crop finishes I will replace it with salad greens.
Bed ten. The salad greens are almost finished. Then mushroom compost, cow manure and mixed fertilizer will be added and the bed will be idle until October when Turmeric and Ginger goes in.
Bed eleven. Currently empty after producing a good crop of Turmeric and Ginger. The bed will have chicken manure, cow manure, blood and bone and mixed fertilizer mixed in and Sweet Corn sown directly into the soil.
Bed twelve. Cabbages will occupy this bed for 8 more weeks. Salad greens will follow and because I want lots of leafy green tops to eat I’ll be adding chicken and cow manure as well as mixed fertilizer. The salad greens include coriander, lettuce of varying types, spring onions, etc. I will also sow Silver Beet and Beetroot thickly in rows so I can pick the young leaves.
Bed thirteen. Carrots and Beetroot are growing nicely and it will be another six weeks before I can prepare for another batch of Sweet Corn. It will get the same treatment as bed eleven and I will sow the seed directly into the soil. Undecided if I will companion plant with climbing beans or not. I have not had very good results in previous seasons so I may give it a miss.
Bed fourteen. Potatoes have been recently planted and will occupy this space for months yet. I’m thinking I’ll plant some warmer season broccoli and cabbage next under insect mesh. I have some time to decide so I’ll wait before I plan how to prepare the soil.
Bed fifteen. Broccoli and Cauliflower have at least 6-8 weeks of growth before I lightly manure the bed and plant more Zucchini and Butternut Pumpkins to grow up climbing frames. I may change my mind and grow mini Water Melons or Rock Melons instead.
So I have now revealed my planning secrets for the next couple of months. It’s out there for all to see. I will adjust it a bit but I reckon I am reasonably pleased with what I have developed. The preparation of the beds is the key to getting a good result so each bed will be pH tested and adjusted according to the type of crop going in.
I reckon it’s good to know what work is ahead for the coming months. A good plan means a productive garden. All I need to do now is to get online and order some seed……