Putting down roots: The plants to grow when our temperatures drop
On Canberra’s harshest frosty mornings, it seems unlikely that anything in our garden could survive. But here Ginninderry’s Landscape Manager Matthew Frawley lists the vegetables that not only survive but thrive over the colder months.
Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower and kale) are hardy plants that you can harvest over winter. To help them survive and thrive through the frosts, plant them as seedlings in Autumn so that they’re established once Winter hits. They love nutrient rich soils, so feed them with manure, compost and goodness from your worm farm.
CARROTS AND BEETROOTS
To grow the classic root vegetable, you will need a lighter soil that allows the roots to develop freely. As Canberra’s soils are generally clay dense and heavy, try and loosen up the soil by building up the garden level and mixing an imported, more friable soil or sand with the existing soil. Feed the soil with nutrients from your compost bin or worm farm.
Autumn is a good time to plant green manures such as broad beans, snow peas and sugar snaps. As with brassicas, plant seedlings to give them a better chance of surviving winter. Not only will you be rewarded with a great harvest at the end of winter, you can chop up the remaining plants and dig them back into the soil. This will help improve soil structure, fix nitrogen in the soil and aid water retention across the hotter months.
As a bulb, garlic is the perfect plant to grow over winter. And it’s easy. You simply separate a bulb into cloves and plant the cloves 15 cms apart, pointed end up, with the tips just below the surface of the soil. Mulch with manure, compost and worm casings and wait for spring to see the shoots coming up. They’ll be ready to harvest in summer.