Start your winter veggie garden planning now.

Posted by on February 7, 2017

Farmers market in UK
Photo: Esther

Extracts  from Living Seeds newsletter:

It’s almost mid February and summer is on it’s way out. This is the time  to start planning what you are going to do in your veggie garden over winter.

The first thing you need to look at, is what plants and crops are not looking happy. If you have tired plants, take them out, turn them into compost or mulch. Diseased plants should be burnt. If you have a crop that is limping along, rather whip it out and make space for a real crop. It’s pointless nursing something that is just not going to make it.
If you plan early (like now!) and plant your seedlings out early enough, you can do very successful follow-up / succession crops over the next two months. This will ensure that you enter winter and those long, cold, lean months, with more than adequate produce in your garden, that will continue to produce the whole winter.

The main trick to a great winter veggie garden is early planting, and prompt follow-ups of succession plantings.

Our February and March Veggie guides are a great starting point if you are stuck and do not know what to plant. For a quick win, look at planting a few trays of various winter crops, so that you get a proper jump on the season.

Here is a quick list of what you should be looking at planting now.

Cabbages ,Broad BeansKale, broccoli, peas, carrots, beetroot, winter leaf crops, lettuce, onions, radish, spinach, turnips and swiss chards.

We also have a stunning collection of Asian veggies, most of which enjoy cooler growing climates.

Root crops are great to put in as they will make great growth by winter and will ‘hold’ in the soil over winter, allowing you to pick fresh veggies all the way through winter. Psst….. Beetroot and Carrot seed are on special for the next 14 days.

Long season crops (Garlic and Onions) require bed-space for over 9 months. Plant them knowing that you will only have that bed space available again in October or November.

Feeding your plants

 Proper fertilization is one of the biggest things you need to do now. Your summer crops have used the fertilizers and compost that you added earlier in the season.

Feeding now is critical to your success over the cold winter months, so before you plant out your winter crops, feed your soil. A healthy dose of Talborne Organics Vita Green for your leaf crops will work wonders, the  Vita Grow will go a long way to feeding your root plants over winter.

If you still have summer crops that are lagging a bit, a quick side dressing of Vita Fruit and Flower is a really great booster for fruiting veggies that need that extra helping hand to make the most out of the last few months. I’m thinking specifically of tomatoes, Brinjals and Peppers/Chillies, as these plants can lag a bit once the first flush or two have been produced. To keep it at peak performance they will really benefit from a side dressing of Vita Fruit and Flower, and it will ensure that you get the most out of your autumn harvest.

Once you have added in your Talborne product of choice, then give a generous topping of thick, mature compost onto the soil surface to act as a mulch and to create a food rich environment for the beneficial goggas in your soil.

Green Manure

Growing your own fertilizer is possibly the cheapest and most effective way of improving your soil.

Green manures planted over winter in fallow beds are one of the cornerstones of the eco-gardener. They have the unique ability of accomplishing many things that the eco-gardener cannot do without using nature. There are plenty of things that green Manures do in your soil, all of it for free.

TOP 10 Reasons to use Green Manures in your garden this winter.

1) Fixing ‘free’ atmospheric nitrogen in the soil for use by the next crop in the cycle. Inoculated legumes have a bacteria that works in symbiosis to trap nitrogen directly from the air into the soil. This happens for free, but only if you plant green manures.

2) Producing biomass both above and below the soil line. Increased biomass that is trapped in your soil does a number of things. First, you reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. Next, you trap carbon in the soil which sets off a whole range of really cool things, most are listed below.

3) Breaking up ‘over tilled or compacted soil’. The roots of your green manures, extend way down into the soil, opening pathways deep into the soil structure and then into the sub soil.

4) Extracting deep lying nutrients, minerals and trace elements and bringing them up to the soil surface. Those roots, we have just spoken about, well they help to unlock minerals and elements deep in the soil and then transport them to the soil surface, where your next crop can access them.

5) Providing ground cover over winter when there is very little protection on the soil surface. This is vitally important. Nature hates bare soil, and will normally cover them first with weeds and then other plants, why not protect your soils integrity with a beneficial crop.

6) Increasing the water retention ability of the soil. Increased biomass in your soil also increases your soils water retention capabilities. The deep roots also provide a way for water to penetrate deep into the soil, where it’s is stored awaiting your next crop to access it.

7) Providing a beneficial environment for soil creatures to thrive. A healthy soil is teeming with life, that life does a whole host of really cool things like breaking biomass down into humus, release minerals that are locked into the soil and generally just improving your soil structure.

8) Some are important sources of nectar for winter and spring pollinators. Green manures are an important source of late winter nectar for pollinators that really struggle at that time of the year to feed themselves. Help them out,  it’s the right thing to do.

9) When chopped back they provide almost instant soil protection as a mulch. Mulch, mulch and mulch. That it our mantra on Livingseeds Farm.  Use the crop in early spring to provide free in-situ mulch.

10) As it breaks down there is an extremely rapid release of highly available natural minerals and nutrients into the soil for use by your next crop.

That’s it for this month guys, we trust and pray that the rains will continue to fall, that your veggies will grow vigorously and that your harvests will be abundant.

The Livingseeds Team

 

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