Let us introduce you to Lee Sullivan, an organic gardener who believes anyone can grow their own food. Here, she shares her cool season favourites.
My name is Lee and I run Urban Veggie Patch (@ urbanveggiepatch). I have been gardening for about six years. I started shortly after I had my first son. I became very interested in health and sustainability and after some research decided the only way to live a more sustainable life and truly understand what went into the food we ate was to grow it in our own backyard.
At the same time, I was experiencing mild post-natal depression (I like to refer to it as post-natal depletion). Unexpectedly, growing and gardening helped me heal. Growing my own food has truly been a beautiful journey and has become one of my greatest passions.
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons in the garden. The air is crisp, the afternoon light glows and the weather is perfect for gardening. At the start of the season, I sow all my seeds for my winter garden. As beds are normally still full with summer produce, I start them in trays or small pots and later transplant them into the garden. The only exception are root vegetables which I always direct sow, especially carrots as they hate to be transplanted.
Every winter, I look most forward to growing podded peas. In my opinion, if you haven’t eaten a fresh podded pea in the garden you haven’t lived! I highly recommend the variety Greenfeast. They are delicious and prolific, just make sure you give them a trellis as they love to climb! Other vegetables I love to grow include, cauliflower, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, beets, radishes, cabbage, broad beans, kale and as many greens as I can fit in my beds! I also love to include flowers like ranunculus, forget-me-nots and sweet peas.
While the seedlings are growing, I remove summer crops and prepare the soil. I add a good amount of nitrogen in the form of aged sheep manure to the greens beds to ensure lush leafy growth. Alternatively, I plant them where there previously had been a nitrogen fixing crop such as beans. I prep my soil based on the particular vegetables I am planting but generally speaking I use a lot of compost, aged sheep manure and organic slow-release fertiliser. It is important to research and understand your plants nutritional needs prior to planting as this will help with your soil preparation.
A lesson I’ve learned over the years is how important placement and positioning of dierent vegetables is, particularly in the winter garden. The sun moves and some spots that get sun in summer may not necessarily get a huge amount in winter. Learning which areas of your garden are full sun and which areas are part-sun during autumn/winter can aid you in working out your planting scheme. Some winter plants will do well in part sun and some simply need full sun to thrive. A rule of thumb I use when planting is, ‘If you grow it for the root or the fruit, you need full sun. If you grow it for the leaves, partial shade is all you need.’
Follow Lee’s gardening adventures on Instagram @urbanveggiepatch. She also runs the Urban Veggie Patch Market where you can purchase seeds and other useful gardening items. For more information, visit urbanveggiepatch.co