Winter garden planning

by Farmer Liz
Its that tricky time of year again, in between seasons, where I try to guess the optimal time to give up on summer crops, and make room for winter veges that will survive the frosty mornings.  At the moment, I still have a few green tomatoes which might ripen in time, a few eggplants, chillis, capsicums and lots of basil.

At the same time, there are brassica seedlings and parsley popping up all over the garden!  I am moving them all to my nominated brassica garden bed.  Its great to have volunteers, but I'm not sure which are which yet and I worry that I won't have one of everything.  I think I will still have to plant a few of each variety, just to be sure I don't miss out, but I definitely have a headstart on a few of them, there is broccoli and tat soi doing well already.

We had a difficult summer, with several months of very hot and dry weather.  The garden didn't really start producing well until we got the 300 mm of rain in late January, even though I was watering with grey water daily, it just wasn't quite enough.  The dry weather at least meant that I wasn't bothered by fruit flies or slugs, so the tomato crop was good, particularly the yellow "taxi" and red "tropic", but strangely this was the first year ever with no cherry tomatoes, they just never seemed to take off.

After the rain, the tronboncino and climbing beans went crazy.  I didn't have much luck with bush beans though and I think it was too dry for the corn.  The pickling cucumbers were the only plant that didn't better in the dry than the wet.  I still didn't manage to grow any melons.

It going to be time soon to harvest the sweet potato, artichoke and some arrowroot and comfrey before they all die back in the frost.  This will give my berry garden space to expand!  Also time to harvest the tumeric and ginger growing in pots and the galangal in the garden (love making galangal ale, say it out loud and you'll see why).

The kale and silverbeet from last winter is still growing, I tried to pull it out at one stage, but it wouldn't budge, so I was too lazy and it just regrew after seeding!  So I've been picking kale all year, fantastic!  The garlic that I didn't harvest last spring (it was too small) died off and has now resprouted, so we will see if it is bigger next spring.

This winter I am going to plant more root crops than last year, I really want to grow plenty of carrots, turnips and swedes.  I am going to grow more broad beans, I really enjoyed having them produce in late winter, when everything else is finishing off.  I'm going to try a few different peas before it starts to frost, and again after the frost.  I'm going to make more of an effort with onions (in the carrot garden, not with the broad beans or peas this time, supposed to be bad-companions).

I'll be setting up my mini-greenhouse to try to keep a few favourites out of the frost, but it might be a challenge to fit them all in this year, as they've all grown, especially the avocado sapling.

What are you planning this winter?  Anything new in your garden?  How do you deal with the frost?

You might also be interested in how my garden grew in 2012.

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