Roots 'n' Shoots: Winter Vegetable Garden

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Winter Vegetable Garden

Winter Vegetable Garden
Free Leaves - Texturemate

This winter we decided to try something new. We have a constant problem with leafy vegetables in summer – they bolt as soon as they can – likely due to the hot dry climate. So after numerous failures of getting a decent salad’s worth of leafy greens, we decided to try planting them in winter. In SA winters are cold, but the sun warms up the earth and no snow falls – so you can get away with planting a few vegetables.

Bok Choy - Brassica rapa chinensis
Baby Dash Spinach - Spinacia oleracea

So we planted some spinach, bok choy, sweet rocket, loose leaf lettuce, and iceberg lettuce – along with some peas, as our peas get plagued by black aphids during the warmer seasons. In the pumpkin patch some of our ‘lost’ onions of the summer season took the opportunity to grow in the absence of the squash, which works out fairly well as the plot isn’t used for anything else. I suppose radish and turnips will come up too, but we don’t like these much...

Anyways. To our delight the winter planting of leafy greens, peas and onions works quite well… 

Loose-leaf Baby Lettuce - Lactuca sativa
Sugar Snap Pea - Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon

Some random potatoes also sprouted in the pumpkin patch, due to some last minute winter rains – probably missed them during harvest, but I doubt they will produce anything decent – but if something comes from it, I’ll report back.

After some snooping about on the internet I found that you can also plant beans (we are on the hunt for limas), broccoli and cauliflower (I have had success with these, although not in winter, but will feature them in a vegetable of the month article), carrots and beets (not in our garden, can’t get a good worth of root out of them before summer) and dill (I am surprised at that – so I’ll gives it a go anyways J).

Basically, southern hemisphere gardeners (warm winters with no snow or frost) need to get vegies into a plot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight, protection from winds, some additional help of regular fertilising (2-4 weeks) and frost fleece if necessary (our frost only comes around during August, about a month before spring). As a rule of thumb, winter vegies will take about twice as long as they would to harvest in summer.Those of you in the northern hemisphere should do winter gardening under glass tunnels or greenhouses J.
Leafy greens two weeks later

Winter Vegetable Garden

P.S the huge plant in the background is the sweet potato still going strong after being planted in spring, it is supposed to be dead by now, but it doesn’t seems to be quitting any time soon J

Do you have a winter vegetable garden?

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  1. Oh No! Sorry Ross, I meant to delete my comment to fix a typo (I am OCD about such things) and deleted yours! Good thing I have gmail to retrieve it - phew!
    I can be such as scatterbrain sometimes! Anyways, here is your comment back and my reply :)

    Ross: I currently have swiss chard, peas, rocket and onions in the veggie patch at the moment. I did however grow 6 cauliflowers (bigger and better tasting than shop bought) earlier this winter. Only thing struggled with was aphids. Thou I sprayed them off with water every few days and that seemed to keep them under control.

    Me: The leafy greens and peas are in full production now, but the Pak choi is bolting now - the bees appreciate the flowers at least. I also have some swiss chard going as leafy greens for summer and lots of onions in our pumpkin patch. Tried rocket, but it too bitter for our liking :|

    I also tried my hand at the larger cabbages; brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. The brussels go hard (meh) and the others take forever to make heads - unless I am doing something wrong :) But I wholeheartedly that they do taste a lot better than store bought!

  2. I have never had Pak choi, is it good?

    I trick I did with my cauliflowers was to collect all our used tea bags and make some compost tea with them. I used around 30 tea bags (used only the tea leaves not the bag) for a 5l bucket and watered the cauliflowers with that twice during the season, around 2 weeks after planting and when the started developing heads. That seemed to give them a good kick.

    Now dont go deleting this comment too hey! :)

  3. Pak Choi is a Brassica species - so it is a bit more bitter than spinach, but not so extremely as rocket. It is used much the same way as spinach and is especially good for soups and stews. It is very prolific as well, far out-producing the lettuce and spinach together.

    Maybe I should try the cauliflowers again and try the teabag trick! Thanx!

    Google should really make a Trash Can for comments :)

  4. Oh wow OK must try the Pak Choi! I just planted some Rhubarb this weekend. Apparently it makes awesome puddings. Can not wait for them to start producing stalks.


    haha wouldn't you be so lucky.

  5. Hi The Shroom!
    Where does one purchase Frost Protection Fleece in Jo'burg? 2/3meters wide.


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