The winter vegie growing challenge

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Kids all over Australia are busily growing vegies as part of the Yates Junior Landcare Winter Vegie Challenge. Kids who registered on the Junior Landcare website before the 5th April were sent a packet of vegetable seeds suitable for growing at this time of year. Carrots, lettuce, broccoli, radish and spinach were the five varieties on offer and kids under seventeen were encouraged to grow the plants from seed and nurture them through the cooler months.

From June 2nd onwards they can begin writing up stories of their gardening journey and uploading pictures to the Junior Landcare website. Each month a winning story will be selected and, after the challenge ends in late September, the overall winner will be declared. So here are some tips for these busy junior gardeners, and for others growing vegies at this time of year.

Tips for growing radishes

Radishes grow really quickly from seed. Seed germinates in a few days and the fat little roots are usually ready to harvest in a matter of weeks. In very cold areas, it’s best to sow them into pots because they’ll be a bit warmer, especially if the pot’s placed against a warm fence or wall. Feed with a fertiliser that doesn’t have too much nitrogen or you could end up with all top and no roots. Thrive Flower & Fruit is a good choice because of its relatively high proportion of phosphorus and potassium. And even if you don’t have a garden, radishes can be grown as microgreens on a windowsill.

Tips for growing lettuce

Lettuces are often happier growing in the cooler weather so this is a good season to give them a try. Sow lettuce seeds very close to the surface and don’t let the tiny plants dry out. Feed every two weeks with Thrive in a liquid form: either the traditional powder that’s dissolved in water or the new liquid formulation. Water at the base of the plant rather than over the leaves, because lettuce are prone to a number of fungal diseases. Watch for snails and slugs, too. Put out some Blitzem or Baysol in a pet-proof, snail-accessible container.

Tips for growing broccoli

Broccoli takes a long time to mature so it’s best to start it off as soon as possible (you can even sow before the end of summer). Feed regularly with a good liquid like Thrive and switch to Thrive Flower & Fruit as the plants reach budding stage (yes, the broccoli we eat is a flower bud). Like all members of the cabbage family, broccoli is prone to grub attack. Treat with Success Ultra or Dipel.

Tips for growing carrots

Carrots can be sown most of the year, except in very cold areas. Mix seed with some sand and sprinkle along a furrow made in some soft, preferably sandy, soil. If soil is heavy, spread some Yates Seed Raising Mix where the seeds will be sown. Firm the soil down on top of the furrow and keep moist. Thin out the young carrots so that those left behind have room to grow.

Tips for growing spinach

Spinach just loves winter so is happy at this time of year. Leaves can be picked at a very early stage as baby spinach, or left to mature. Enrich the soil with Dynamic Lifter before planting and feed with a Thrive liquid.

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