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Winter Vegetables

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By Rachel Vogan

Winter - the time when you benefit from all those late summer and autumn planted crops - the last of the French beans, lovely heads of green broccoli, Savoy cabbages, carrots, leeks etc. - all should be ready from now on. Well, what to do in the vege garden now that winter is more or less here. Its often hard to get excited about Vegetable Gardening this time of year as the nights are colder and the plant growth slows right down.

The huge range of climates in New Zealand during the winter  means that you need to be aware of the weather in the area in which you live, and plant accordingly. In the warmest areas with little or no frost, you can plant or sow broad beans, cabbage, lettuce, onion, and spinach in the next couple of months.

In the coldest areas, the best advice is to plant nothing. Plants will not succeed if planted out in areas subject to heavy frosts, and while they will survive, generally will go straight to seed in the spring - something I find very frustrating! However, all is not lost for those of you in those colder areas. One of the pleasures of gardening for those of you with a glass or plastic house is to pop inside them on a cold day - lovely and warm!

So, enjoy some winter gardening by planting up any available space with some winter veges - broccoli, lettuce triumph, radish, silver beet, spinach, together with a few herbs such as parsley and coriander all will grow very well in the winter glasshouse. And the secret of success? Plenty of ventilation, and not too much water. Close the vents on a frosty night, otherwise keep them wide open, and these crops will be much happier.

Look out for some of the hardy Lettuce varieties that grow well through the winter months – last year I had the lovely red lettuces growing right through the winter along with my favourite little green variety Tom Thumb.

If you want to have a break from the vege garden over winter, I suggest you add some good manure and compost and give it a rest until its time to plant out in the spring. The more work you put into your soil the better the results are that you will get.

Happy Gardening