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Winter is here. While it may be cold and dark, it’s the ideal time to start prepping your veggie patch for spring harvesting.

As our climate varies between regions, there’s no clear rulebook on how to give your sprouts the best chance of survival in an Aussie winter. What you decide to plant and how you’ll maintain your glorious garden will all depend on where you live. Here’s what you should be doing this winter to ensure your veggie patch is thriving.

Take your tools out

  • Before you get started you need to make sure all your gardening tools are sharpened, clean and oiled. Using vegetable oil is a good alternative to the more expensive oils that are on the market and can also be used on the wooden handles, giving you a much smoother gardening experience and assure your work is clean and easy. Essential tools you need in your kit are a spade, hoe, hand trowel, gardening fork and a durable pair of gloves.

Be down to earth

  • Next, you’ll likely need to prep your soil in time for winter. Working and turning the soil two to three times a year is crucial because soil can become hard over time which is damaging for plants. If you notice that your soil is dense or mostly made up of clay, add plenty of well-rotted compost to nourish your soil and provide the nutrients that your plants are going to need to survive through the winter. For lighter soils, you can add a mulch to the surface which the worms will work in for you. This will increase the fertility of the soil and reduce the amount of weed growth.

Time to sow your seedlings

  • Once your soil is prepped and fertile, it’s time to plant your seedlings. Make sure that the soil is moist and rich, planting the seeds about a palms length apart and one inch deep, in consecutive rows. Top with a high phosphorus fertilizer. This will be beneficial for the organisms in the soil that help enhance the growth of your veggies. Lastly, don’t forget to give plenty of water to your seeds each day.

Learn which plants flourish in your environment

  • If you live in the colder regions, it’s not recommended to be planting new crops as there are not many plants that can withstand the harsh cold of winter. However, there’s still hope for the keen, green gardener. Plants like cauliflower, kale, broccoli, cabbages, Brussel sprouts and lettuce can handle the cold really well. Winter in subtropical and tropical areas will mean sunny days and chilly nights. The sunny days will be enough to sustain growth and with enough care, veggies like beetroot, carrots, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potato and pumpkin can also be planted in time for spring.
  • The best vegetables to plant in winter according to your region:
    • New South Wales – Chinese greens, parsley, sage, thyme, garlic, silver beet, lettuce, onions
    • Northern Territory – Asian greens, basil, coriander, mint, corn, Chinese cabbage
    • Queensland – capsicums, cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, squash
    • South Australia – spinach, garlic, broad beans, lettuce, cabbage
    • Tasmania – snap peas, snow peas, celery, rhubarb, asparagus crowns, Jerusalem artichokes, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit
    • Victoria – mustard greens, chickpea, fennel, peas, shallots
    • Western Australia – carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, beans, artichoke, beetroot, capsicums, chillies

Top tips for the growing gardener

  • If you live in an area that gets a lot of frost overnight it could be detrimental to the seedlings. If this is the case, try covering your veggie patch with a clear shower curtain (or something similar) until the seeds start to sprout. This will cause a 'greenhouse effect' and absorb the suns heat throughout the day, releasing it evenly throughout the night to prevent frost.

Planting a veggie patch in winter can be challenging, but growing a winter garden is achievable and completely worth the effort. If you’re really keen to get your thumbs green this winter, get to know your environment, plan ahead and follow these easy steps. You’ll be grateful in spring when you’re harvesting your own fresh produce and serving it up on the dinner table.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of State Custodians.

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