In the Winter Garden
It’s not always great weather to be outdoors over the winter months, but there’s still plenty you can do for the garden.
Planning: Choose what you want to grow next season. Planning helps you hit the ground running for a fabulous garden this spring.
Get students involved in [Click here for complete info] measuring garden beds and drawing up plans of what might be planted in spring. They can calculate how many plants might be needed, or how much compost will cover the area.
Mulch: After weeding, cover the soil with a layer of mulch to stop weeds coming back, feed soil life and hold moisture for the summer months. Use wood chip around larger shrubs and trees, straw around veges. Be careful not to smother grasses or soft wooded things like lavenders as they may rot if over-mulched.
Sprout Kumara: Back inside, choose a big fat tuber from the greengrocer and sprout it, either suspended with toothpicks over a jar of water, or in a tray of damp sand in a warm place. Kumara shoots can become an ornamental vine that will eventually grow right round the window and up the wall.
Or, pull off shoots to plant outside in the ground once it warms up in October/ November. Kumara need the hottest place you can give them in Kapiti’s marginal climate.
Sprout Potatoes: These can go into the ground in August/September for early crops by Christmas. Lay them out for a few weeks before planting and they will form fat little sprouts, giving them a head start. Here is a great link explaining the `lazy bed’, no-dig method of growing potatoes: Watch Youtube video
Windowsill gardens: You can also sprout avocado pips (don’t expect to harvest fruit from the resulting tree however – they need to be grafted for reliable cropping). Or cut the top few centimeters off a carrot and place it in a saucer of water on the windowsill, to see the ferny foliage grow.
Microgreens- If you can’t get out to the garden, let the garden come to you. Microgreens like lettuce, coriander or mustard, can be sown on a sunny windowsill and harvested when they’re halfway between sprouts and seedlings. I use plastic takeaway containers or tomato pottles for a ready-made glasshouse to speed up sprouting. Keep a spray bottle of water nearby to water gently.