DEAR NONNO, I'M HAVING TROUBLE FINDING A WINTER GARDENING ROUTINE. CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE ME SOME ADVICE?
-Jeremy (Clifton Hill)
Despite a downturn in interest when it comes to the winter garden, there is still an abundance on offer for those that show a little grit. The cool season in Australia, by relative terms, is actually pretty balmy for the most part and either way, vegetables don’t mind a little crispness in the air.
If anything, cooler conditions lessen the level of maintenance necessary now, and the winter garden is maybe the most easy going of all. In fact, we like to think of winter as unique; it is the only season in the year that vegetables slip into cruise control.
That’s right, looking after the patch now is much like driving down the Nullabor - without a car in sight. We’re riding steady at 110km/h, right arm collecting air on the window sill, peddle foot relaxed, our speed altered by a slight shuffle of our thumb or index finger on the cruise control. It’s beautiful. Perhaps you’re reading this now and wondering what it is you’ve been doing with your winter (and life) to date, but it’s never too late to get the garden started.
Our climate means that at any moment - right now for example - you can pick up a container, fill it up with good quality potting mix, and plonk in a few salad greens. A few weeks later and you’re picking salads fresh, rather than from a plastic bucket at the supermarket. If salads don’t take your fancy, try something a little harder. Silverbeet, spinach or kale, are all profoundly happy entering the garden in the middle of winter.
For gardeners that were organised and annoyingly diligent in autumn, everything is set and a mini harvesting glut is approaching. Anything from peas, broad beans and beetroots, to broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage will be building a level of anticipation in the veggie patch. This is all hardy produce, that goes towards hardy food, and winter is the best time to embellish our bellies in the good stuff.
While we may stop or slow down a little, and baulk at the idea of trudging out into the garden, the food chain does not, and there’s always something incredible on offer.
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