My top 3 winter greens + how to grow them

fresh picked homegrown cabbage

Eating a daily dose of fresh, picked greens through winter is my recipe for wellness. And wellness is my wish for everyone – especially this winter when being hale + hearty is more important then ever. Thing is, you need to get planting this weekend in order to have greens to eat once the cold strikes. Since you’re all being your best community minded selves and staying home, you’ve got plenty of time for gardening 😊. Here’s my 3 top winter greens, and how to plant them.

1. Silverbeet, Chard, Perpetual Beet + Kale.

leafy greens are the best

Beneficent leafy greens! Plant heaps … in every gap you’ve got. In a few months you’ll be picking them and they’ll last you all winter/ spring long.

Leafy greens are jamming with vitality and goodness, and if you only have room for a few things choose leafy greens. Grow a variety of types for a mixture of benefit and find creative ways to fit them into breakfast, lunch and tea.

2. Parsley 

For me it has to be Italian flat leaf, but curly or flat – choose the one that floats your boat. Is there a more nourishing, low maintenance, go-with-everything, herb? Plant this month and pick through til summer.

I have at least 6 plants on the go at any one time. For long lived plants, it’s better to pick a little from each rather than a lot from one.

3. Brassica

broccoli harvest

Brassica’s (broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and cauli) are outstanding for our bodies, so much goodness here when they are fresh picked and have no herbicides/ pesticides ruining our good selves.

Plant a mixture to keep things varied at the dinner table. Include some slow to mature with some faster ones to stagger your harvest and make sure there is always a brassica on offer for eating.

Plant a few slow …

broccoli bed

Most cabbage and broccoli take about 75 days from transplant to table. Cauliflower is longer again at about 90 days.

… with a few quick

Chinese cabbage, pak choi or bok choy are ready in about 6 weeks from transplant and are such a handy stir fry or steamed green.

Here’s a combo to get you started

Plant out 2 cauliflower, 3 broccoli, 3 cabbages and 6 bok choy for a very useful staggered harvest. If you are planting these in one bed they will take up about 1.3 x 3m.

The bok choy will be ready first. You could sow coriander or rocket in the space. Next up you’ll start harvesting broccoli. Once the main head is cut from the broccoli it’ll keep providing good sized shoots for months on end. (Eat the stalk as well – broccoli is such great bang for your buck!) Cabbage is ready next + broccoli shoots, followed by the cauliflower and still more broccoli shoots!

broccoli shoots
Broccoli shoots come for months after the main head is cut

Any gaps in harvest will be filled by your handy dandy leafy greens + parsley.

spring greens

If you can, plant another mixed lot of brassica every 2 – 4 weeks right through winter to keep the goodness coming on. Check out Awapuni seedlings – wrapped in paper, no plastic and you can buy them online, yay!

Soil prep is everything

choose the best soil in your garden

These 3 are heavy feeders, so don’t just jam them in anywhere. Search out the best soil your garden has to offer. Never mind if its by a rose or a lemon or with the flowers, and never mind if it means dotting vegies all over the place rather than in a line or one bed together. The important thing is best soil. Without it you wont be eating nourishing fresh greens this winter.

You may choose to sacrifice some flowers to fit more vegies in or you may need to share some of your neighbours garden if you don’t have room or grow in containers… where there’s a will there’s a way!

Preps for clay

forksta

If your soil is hard or heavy clay you’d do well to aerate it. If you cant push your hand into it, your seedlings wont be able to spread their roots either. Aerating means sliding your garden fork (or this super cool forksta) into the soil as far as it will go, pulling it back towards you to open the soil then pulling the fork out. Repeat this all over your chosen spot. Spread a fine layer of compost on top and lightly work it into the topsoil. Sprinkle on minerals if you have them to ensure your dinner is mineral rich and your plants are strong.

Preps for sand

If your soil is sandy, scoop out a saucer shaped area and line it with wet newspaper. Mix the sand 50/50 with compost and pile it back into the hole, on top of the newspaper. Sprinkle on minerals if you have them.

Soak seedlings + soak the soil

soak your seedlings pre planting

Prep the seedlings by standing them in a weak brew of seaweed or comfrey or worm wees before planting out. If you have none of these to hand, just use water.

Prep the soil by watering it until its properly moist. Then bring soil microbes to the party by soaking your garden bed with whatever liquid brew you have – liquid seaweed, EM, compost tea, comfrey, worm-wees, milk (dilute 50/50) or molasses (a big tablespoon per watering can).

Plant

brocolli seedlings

If you have worm castings add a handful with each seedling. If you have any rotten manure or seaweed dollop it around on top of the soil.

Mulch

Buckwheat, meadowsweet, yarrow homemade mulch

Mulch is key to a strong soil – never leave the earth bare! You will find enough mulch about your garden by chopping up old crops and flowers, trimming herbs or other soft foliage plants, collecting grass clippings, leaves, sea wrack, bracken… use your imagination! Mix all the bits and pieces together and spread on. This homemade, awesome brew is way better than anything you’ll buy.

jersey mulch!

If you well and truly don’t have enough garden waste, another option is to peg down bits of fabric (sacking, old towel, hubbys holey t.shirt from 1987, blanket…) around your plants with rocks or tent pegs.

Boost your plants along

Boost your plants along before the cold hits with a weekly liquid feed. Its really easy and cheap to make your own. How bout making a bucket of your own herbal brew this weekend – it’ll be ready to use in 6 weeks time. Meantime use liquid seaweed, EM, compost tea, comfrey, worm-wees, milk (dilute 50/50) or molasses (a big tablespoon per watering can).


Comments

  1. Carol Wilson says

    If you purchase a pack of plants or 6 in a punnet, can those not being planted be left for weeks while you plant out 2 per week?

    • Good question! Brassicas are flexible this way – just pot them into the next sized pot and keep them watered while you await room to be freed up in the garden. Another option is to go online to Awapuni nureries and get their brassica mix bundle 🙂

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