How-to for beginner gardeners with Shannon Hunt.
Autumn is upon us and it is time to plan and plant your winter garden. First, you need to remove all dying plants and debris from the garden (save it for composting) and rejuvenate the much-depleted soil with sheep pellets, blood and bone, seaweed liquid and compost. Leave all that goodness to soak in and break down for a week or two before planting out.
Give Them Strength
A young seedling can be prone to shock when it is first removed from a garden centre, taken to your place, pulled out of its warm punnet and placed into a new outdoor bed. So, I recommend you soak your seedlings for an hour in seaweed liquid before planting. This organic fertiliser can be purchased at your favourite garden centre for an ‘easy-on-the-pocket’ price and is worth its weight in gold when used on your plants and in your garden.
Dig, Fill, Press & Water In
To give your vegetable seedlings a good start, make sure you place each one into a generous hole and drop a couple of sheep pellets in before you carefully place the seedling into it. Gently pack the soil around the roots and, once you have planted out a row, water all the seedlings in.
Tuck them Up
Your winter seedlings will love the addition of a 20cm straw mulch to blanket the ground around them to protect them from the cooler weather. Mulch is also an effective weed suppressor and it can keep your gumboots and shoes cleaner over those messy, wet winter months.
Choose your favourite cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprout seedlings and plant them in a straight line. Warning! Brassicas grow into large produce so spacing seedlings well is important.
When Straight Lines Matter
If you have an eye for perfection or just want your rows to be straight, attach a piece of string to a peg and insert it at one end of your row. Take the string to the other end of your row and attach it to another peg or small stake pushed into the ground. Make sure the string is straight and then plant your seedlings along the line. Remove the string and pegs once the seedlings are in.
It is also the right time to plant seedlings of silver beet, broad beans, celery, winter endive (winter lettuce), spinach, spring onions and peas along with carrots (check out how many different colours are available), beetroot, parsnips, swedes, beetroot and turnips.
Time to Harvest
Your winter plantings will be ready to eat in anything from six to 16 weeks. If you want to assist them to grow even faster (the colder weather slows down growth) then consider placing a cloche over each plant. Cloches may also protect your plantings from heavy rain, hail and snow