How to grow Cool season vegetable guide

Cool season vegetable guide

 

Many vegetable gardeners believe that the date to start planting cool season crops is on the first day of winter. Big mistake. The time to start winter crops is early autumn. 


While it can seem brutal to pull out summer crops that are still yielding dinners, you need to act now to catch the last of the warm weather. This will help kickstart winter crops. 


Quick-growing vegetables like bok choy will be ready to pick by May, others can be harvested throughout winter and into spring. Follow our tips to keep a family of four fed with delicious home-grown produce.


Asian greens

By: seedling, successive

How many: 6 seedlings per 1m row, 15cm apart. Every 4 weeks.

Time to harvest: 3-6 weeks

Yield: 1kg per plant

Tips: very quick crop. Harvest progressively by removing the outer leaves. 


The quickest crop around. Ready in weeks. Bok choy. Photo - Linda Ross

Beetroot

By: seed, successive

How many: 1 x 1m square, with a seed every 10 cm, to make 100 in the square. Every 6 weeks

Time to harvest: 12 weeks

Yield: 7kg per square metre

Tips: plant different colours, such as Golden, Chioggia (red and white stripe) and Bulls Blood individually, or purchase mixed heirloom seed packets.

 


Pulling our golden beetroot to roast during winter. Photo - Linda Ross

 

Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower

By: seedling, successive

How many: 6 plants of each. Every 6 weeks

Time to harvest: 14-16 weeks for cabbage and broccoli; 24 weeks for cauliflower

Yield: 1kg per plant

Tips: sprouting broccoli offers a larger, longer harvest than heading broccoli. Peg large leaves over developing cauliflower to avoid yellowing. Mix up red and white cabbage for interesting coleslaws.

 


Picking cauliflower is fun for the whole family. Photo - Linda Ross

 

Broad beans

By: seed, once only

How many: 4 x 1m squares, with 5 seeds in each of 5 rows

Time to harvest: 15 weeks

Yield: 350gms per plant

Tips: plant in blocks and ‘wall’ each square with bamboo stakes to keep plants upright during windy weather. Try dwarf varieties like ‘Coles Dwarf Prolific’ in windy locations. Ensure plenty of bee-attracting flowers in the garden for best yield.

 


The bounty. Photo - Linda Ross

 

Carrots

By: seed, successive

How many: 1 x 1m square, with 15 seeds in each of 15 rows. Every 4 weeks

Time to harvest: 12-16 weeks

Yield: 40kg per square metre

Tips: sow different colours, such as Purple Haze, Chanteray, and white individually, or purchase mixed heirloom seed packets.

 


Just picked carrots. Photo - Linda Ross

Chervil and coriander

By: seed or seedling, once only

How many: 4 plants

Time to harvest: 4 weeks

Yield: pick leaves throughout autumn, winter and spring then save seed for next year.

Tips: these herbs love growing through the cool weather. They taste best when thrown into a meal at the last minute.

 


Chervil is often called the gardeners herb, its our favourite winter herb! Photo - Linda Ross

Fennel

By: seedling, successive

How many: 1 x 1m square, with 5 seeds in each of 5 rows. Every 6 weeks

Time to harvest: 12-14 weeks

Yield: 15kg per square metre

Tips: plant high as bulbs will collect soil if planted too deep.

 


Sliced thinly or slow roasted, fennel is versatile and delicious. Photo - Linda Ross

Garlic

By: clove, once only

How many: 50, planted in blocks, cloves 10cm apart

Time to harvest: 35 weeks

Yield: 50 bulbs

Tips: keep weed-free. Pull out in November and dry bulbs in the sun for two weeks before stringing up, ready for use. Keep the biggest cloves for replanting next April.

 


Purple garlic. Grow a yearly supply. Photo - Linda Ross

Lettuce

By: seedling, successive

How many: 9 plants every 6 weeks

Time to harvest: 3 weeks for non-hearting, 8 weeks for hearting

Yield: 500g per plant

Tips: try Cos, Butterhead and Mini Cos. A sprinkle of rocket seeds in the lettuce patch will keep you supplied through winter.

 


We love a quick green salad every night. Leafy greens grow quickly in winter. Photo - Linda Ross

Red onions

By: seedling, once only

How many: 40 seedlings in a 4m row, 10cm apart

Time to harvest: 32 weeks

Yield: 3kg

Tips: keep weed-free

 


Red onions. Photo - Linda Ross

Spring onions and leeks

By: seedling, successive

How many: 20 seedlings, 5cm apart in a 1m row. Every 4-6 weeks.

Time to harvest: 8-12 weeks

Yield: 1-2 kg per m

Tips: leeks and spring onions can be used throughout the cool weather when onions are unavailable and unlike onions can be planted successively.

 


A row of little leeks. We like to successionally plant leeks every month for continued supply. Photo - Linda Ross

Peas: snow, snap and podded

By: seedling, once only

How many: 1m row of each, or 1 tripod of 6 bamboo stakes, with two seeds per stake.

Time to harvest: 8 weeks

Yield: 3 kg per metre

Tips: can be grown in pots using a tepee. Watch out for fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Spray with Eco-fungicide if necessary.

 


Podding peas waiting to be popped! Photo - Linda Ross

Rainbow Chard

By: seedling, once only

How many: 12 plants, 25cm apart

Time to harvest: 10 weeks

Yield: 2-3kg per metre

Tips: Quick-growing leafy green which performs well throughout the year. Harvest outer leaves. Liquid feed with seaweed.

 


Rainbow Chard grows easily during the winter. Pick outer leaves. Photo - Linda Ross

Kohlrabi 

By: seedling, successive 

Number: 6 plants, 20cm apart. Every 6 weeks. 

Time to harvest: 10 weeks 

Yield: a 300g bulb plant 

Tips: purple varieties grow best through winter. Harvest when the stem is between golf ball and tennis ball size. Do not leave too long as bulbs get woody and tasteless.

 


Purple kohlrabi are really moorish, slice thinly and drizzle with lime juice, salt and pepper.Photo - Linda Ross

Where to buy

By seed: we use Yates, Greenpatch Organic Seeds, Green Harvest and Diggers seed companies.

By seedling: we look for Oasis seedlings at nurseries, and when we make it to our local farmers market, we load with organic seedlings from Patio Plants.         

 

Text: Linda Ross                  

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Author: Linda Ross