Your own winter veggie-garden

  • Posted: Jul 04, 2011
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Your own winter veggie-garden

Personally I do not really have what you would call ‘green fingers’ and to be honest my hands are so sore during wintertime that I do not even want to think about getting them dirty – but I decided that 2011 was going to be the year I will try to grow my own vegetable garden. Seeing that I love cooking soup and stews during winter, I decided that this was the time during which I want to grow fresh vegetables – and immediately I started dreaming about adding big, fresh veggies – from my own garden – to the pot when I cook.

But because we have such cold winters, it is not quite as easy as I dreamt it to be. I soon realised that I needed some advice before I could even think about starting my own little garden.

Which veggies will grow well during winter?
According to JJ van Rensburg from Garden World, winter vegetable garden varieties are much less than in summer. “But now is the time to make use of nature to enrich your soil as much as possible.”

Legumes:

“Put Nitrogen into the soil with Peas and Beans. These two are both legumes. Legumes have special bacteria that have the ability to absorb Nitrogen in the air and store it in the roots. If you don’t know about this special ability, you would think it is a nematode problem, but the lumpy roots are actually the beneficial bacteria. How you would use it is simple – sow a bunch of seed as normally, and then when the plants reach a 10cm height, turn them into the ground for additional organic Nitrogen. Beans and peas must be nipped to promote bushy growth. When your peas fruit and ripen, pick them early so they don’t go hard.” says JJ.

Other vegetables that will grow well during wintertime is:
● Carrots
● Radish
● Beetroot
● Broccoli
● Cauliflower
● Cabbage
● Leeks
● Lettuce
● Onions

As you can see, everything you need for a nice soup or stew!

JJ’s tip: Mound soil around onions as they are lifting themselves out of the ground to encourage bulb development and keep them growing.

Tips for a healthy winter vegetable garden:

Let there be light: Vegetables need plenty of sunlight to grow healthily – especially during winter when it is cold and the days are shorter. Make your veggie garden in a sunny part of your yard and avoid shady areas. Your garden should be facing north and be exposed to the sun for at least four hours per day.

Raising the odds: Creating raised beds is another way to have a winter vegetable garden. Raised beds bring plants up from the surrounding ground soil, which can raise the temperature of the soil inside the raised bed by 8 to 12 degrees F, states the Ed Hume Seeds Company. Make raised beds with rocks, treated lumber or brick.

Food for thought: Enough water and compost are very important ingredients for a successful winter garden. The compost should be used to improve the soil by digging it in and using on the surface as mulch. The mulch retains moisture in the soil and also keeps the soil temperatures moderate.

Keep the cold out: Blocking cold winds around your plants can help control the temperature, giving them a better chance of survival later in the season. Block the weather through wind breaks, walls or by installing cold frames around your plants.

Do not overplant your garden: You do not have to cater for the whole neighbourhood, so you can plant small amount of plants at a time and regulate the amount and type of plant that you use in a specific area. You can have smaller quantities and continuous harvest of crops if you plant a short row of veggies every couple of weeks. This will also ensure that the soil stays healthy and does not get exhausted.

Size matters: When planting, always put shorter plants on the south ends and taller plants on the north end. This will help prevent shading of your shorter vegetable crops.

Tip: Control bugs by using non-toxic sprays. Onion and garlic juice mixed with some hot pepper powder, water and baby shampoo can whack a bunch of bugs in no time, but doesn’t harm the plant.

When your first veggies of the season are ready, try making this divine soup!

Chicken and vegetable soup

Serves: 4 tot 6 grownups
From: Royco Meal Inspiration
Time: 2 hours + preparation

Ingredients:
● 500g cubed chicken breasts
● 1 onion, peeled and grated
● 1 packet Royco Chicken & Noodle soup
● 1 packet Royco Minestrone
● 1 cube chicken stock
● 800ml boiling water
● 1 potato, peeled and grated
● 1 carrot, peeled and grated
● ½ cup of rice
● Handful spaghetti (broken into pieces)

Method:
1. Spice the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and chicken spices of your choice. Put the chicken in a large cast iron pot and brown the meat at a low temperature.
2. Add the grated onion and sauté until it becomes translucent.
3. Add the soup powder and stock cube together with 800ml of boiling water.
4. Add the rest of the grated vegetables, the spaghetti and the rice.
5. Bring to boil and reduce the heat.
6. Simmer for two hours, stirring continuously.
7. Serve with fresh, crusty bread with lots of butter.

Tip: Add more water if the soup is too thick.

Note: If you do not have time for vegetable gardening or to prepare this delicious soup, but still long for proper homemade soup, try the Heinz range of canned soup! It is great and tastes just like the real thing!

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