Tips

Grow vegies from packages in winter

Rating: 4.0
July Wk 2

Look in the garden shops at this time of year and you’ll see packets of roots or bulbs on sale. These are always decorated with enticing pictures of the end-result plants.

As well as many ornamental plants available in this form, home vegetable growers will be pleased to find some popular edibles on sale. Rhubarb, shallots, garlic, strawberries, asparagus and berries are typical examples.

Rhubarb
Rhubarb crowns (clusters of roots) are planted now. Rhubarb hates wet feet, so choose a sunny spot with good drainage. Mix in some well-aged manure and Dynamic Lifter pellets before planting. Don’t begin harvesting the leaves until the plant’s well established – at least the second year. Keep some copper-based Yates Fungus Fighter on hand to treat rots and mildews as soon as they appear.

Shallots and garlic
True shallots are small, brown-skinned bulblets with a mild onion flavour that are ideal for stews and casseroles. Bulbs are planted in mid winter and the crop harvested in mid summer.

Homegrown garlic’s creamy flavour adds a special touch to many dishes. Plant the cloves and, after the leaves appear, begin feeding with a liquid plant food such as Yates Thrive or Aquasol. Watch out for aphids on the leaves – control with Nature’s Way Natrasoap, which has no withholding period – and water evenly throughout the growing season. Pull up the plants – bulbs and all – after the leaves yellow off in mid-summer and harden them in the sun for a few days before hanging them to store in a dry, airy place.

Asparagus
Asparagus plants last for years, which is why growing asparagus is a long-term commitment. Pre-planting preparation is especially important. Mix some compost or well-aged manure into the soil in a freely-draining spot. Then add a complete plant food like Acticote or Dynamic Lifter. Dig a shallow trench and plant the asparagus crowns at the bottom. Then fill in the trench as the shoots grow. Don’t harvest until at least the second year and, even then, do so lightly to allow the plants to establish. Each winter give the plants another dressing with fertiliser – Dynamic Lifter Fruit & Citrus would be ideal.

Strawberries (pictured)
Strawberries grow well in pots. As well as providing good drainage, pots help elevate the fruit out of reach of hungry predators like snails and slugs. A Yates Tuscan Edge pot, with its self-watering feature, will keep the plants in good condition. Use a good quality potting mix (such as Yates Premium) and move the pot around to capture maximum sunlight. Feed strawberries with Acticote pellets and plan on renewing the plants every three or four years.

Tasty roots
Jerusalem artichokes, Chinese artichokes and horseradish – all valued for their underground parts – can also be planted in the winter months. Because these are all a bit more difficult to buy, it’s often easier to beg some from friends! Do that now, while the plants are still dormant.


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