Winter has arrived suddenly with a really cold blast! Those of us who experience good frosts understand the positives and negatives it brings for the garden. Gone are those pesky snails and caterpillars that ravage our winter crops. Weeds don’t germinate at the fast rate they do in autumn. But at the same time, the cooling of the ground slows down the growth rate of our vegetables. That said, there’s still plenty to do at this time of year.
Our rhubarb patch is looking a little sad and has quite a few flowering stalks. Even though the bees love the flowers, they drain energy from the plant, so it’s best to remove them.
Also remove the older lower leaves and stalks from the plants and that’ll encourage new growth. Then a good feed and mulch will have the plants ready for harvest in springtime. Mind you, in our warmer climate, we can harvest this vegetable pretty much all year round.
As our brassicas grow larger, it’s good to hill up the soil around them. Using your niwashi, you can weed your brassica bed at the same time as hilling up around the plants, making them much more stable. A good side dressing of fertiliser will help punch them along.
If you’re growing cauliflowers, once the head starts to form, snap the leaves that are closest to the head over it. This helps the cauliflower form nicely and stay white.
Perpetual spinach going to seed
Our silverbeet bed is doing well but the perpetual spinach (which is the same family as silverbeet) planted next to it just wants to go to seed this year. Every year is different and as much as we think we know what’s going to happen, nature always dishes up surprises. Before you pull these plants out, gather up the leaves and make our Spanakopita dish – if you have lots of spinach, you can make two dishes and freeze one uncooked. The chickens love the stalks too, so it’s not all bad.
Saving bean seeds
And finally, now the cool weather has arrived, it’s time to harvest our bean seeds which are still on the vines. It’s easy to do and all we need is a place to dry them out for 4-6 weeks. We save our own seed for beans as they’re well acclimatised to our warm, humid summers, unlike some of the modern cultivars which don’t do as well.
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG!