Like September, March is a main sowing month, only this time it is for autumn and winter crops. The cooler days make working in the garden a pleasure, so make the most of available time to set up your veggie garden for the next few months.
The main crops to grow are leafy greens (lettuce, Asian greens, spinach and Swiss chard), easy root crops (carrots, beetroot and radishes) and the brassica big four – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.
Getting Started with your Winter Veggies
Make space by taking out summer crops that are finished or almost finished. If you don’t want to sacrifice the last tomatoes, pull out the plants and hang them upside down (roots and all) in a cool place for the fruit to ripen.
Wash seedling trays and pots with liquid soap and hot water, and stock up with germinating mix.
Try this: make your own germinating mix
Mix together equal parts of palm peat (hydrate first in a bucket of water), perlite and vermiculite. All are available at Lifestyle Home Garden. Moisten the mix if necessary. Fill your seedling pots with this homemade mix, add seeds, and sprinkle a thin layer over your seeds if they need to be covered.
Quick soil checks
- How compact is your soil?
Take a large, empty instant-coffee tin and remove the bottom. Push or dig it into the soil, leaving about 9cm of it above the soil. Pour in some water, marking the water height. Time how long it takes for the water to drain away. Repeat this several times until the rate of absorption slows and the times become consistent. Anything slower than 1.5 – 3cm per hour is an indication of compacted soil at the level of the roots, which is where they need water and air.
- How workable is the soil?
If you dig up clods or clumps of soil, workability is low. The less clumpy the soil is, the easier it is for water to reach the roots. Break down clumps and add in more organic material.
- Is there life below ground?
Dig out the soil to a depth of 15 – 30cm and count the number of earthworms. The absence of earthworms means that the soil does not contain enough organic matter to sustain them. Earthworms are important for soil quality: they improve drainage, bind the soil together, and make nutrients available to the plants (Click |HERE| for more info on the value that earthworms play in your garden).
Don’t forget to….
Renew the nutrients in the soil by adding compost, or spreading a thin layer of fertilis (worm castings) over the surface and working it into the top few centimetres. Organic fertilisers like Vita Grow 2:3:2 (16) can also be added. They don’t contain carrier salts so will not burn the plants!
Visit us at Lifestyle Home Garden to get the best choices in compost, fertilis and organic fertilisers – our friendly sales advisors in green golf shirts will be able to help you find what you need!
Supplied by The Gardener Magazine. For more on these plants click |HERE| or on the cover of the March issue of The Gardener