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grow your own

There’s nothing more satisfying than eating homegrown produce. Nick Coumbe from Heyne’s Garden Centre shares his top five tips for a productive vegetable garden this winter.

1. measure your patch

It’s important to know how large your patch is so you can work out how many plants it will take.

2. prepare your ground

Dig over your patch and add organic matter and nutrients before you start planting. Also remove any weeds and old plants that aren’t productive anymore. To condition the soil, add some organic matter like cow manure or compost. Fertiliser will also provide nutrients and you can add gypsum if you’ve got heavy soil. Spread all the conditioners out evenly on the ground and dig them in because this will open up the soil structure and help new plants take root.

3. stagger your plantings

Plant one punnet of each vegetable every couple of weeks rather than planting everything in one go. This is particularly useful with plants that take a longer time to grow before harvesting. It’s better to have a couple of cabbages and cauliflowers a week than have them all coming at once! For larger plots, divide it into sections and plant them out in turn for a more regular harvest.

4. choose a variety of plants

Some plants can be harvested quite regularly like ‘cut and come again’ lettuce or silverbeet. Varieties of broccoli like broccolette, broccolini and baby broccoli actually form sprouts rather than large heads and are great for repeat picking. Peas and beans provide regular crops that improve as you keep picking and put nutrients back into the soil.

There are plenty of plants that take longer to grow but still give you a really good harvest: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflowers and brussel sprouts are great winter vegetables. Asparagus is always a popular vegetable and will crop for several years when it reaches maturity three years after planting.

5. aftercare

Water your plants in once they’re in the ground. Check your vegetables regularly to ensure the soil moisture is OK and look out for any signs of pests or diseases.