These tips will help make sure you're sorted for winter gardening. Photo / Guy Coombes

Gardening Tips: How To Grow A Winter Garden

Avoid paying $13 for a cauliflower this winter and grow your own. Whether you live in an apartment or have a backyard, gardener Claire Mummery’s tips will help you on your way

Though you might not be able to nip out to the garden centre right now, it’s still a good time to start planning how you can be more self-sufficient over winter.

Even if you just grow rosemary, thyme, mint and parsley in pots, they will serve you well and bring extra, fresh flavour to dishes.

Think rosemary crushed into lamb mince patties, mint chopped through a salad, or thyme and lemon tucked into a roast chicken...

1. If you’re looking for a winter garden harvest with a quick turnaround, try and source plants and seeds for pak choi, rocket, radishes, baby carrots, silverbeet, Chinese vegetables, mustard seeds, and even look for a wild weed salad from your garden.

2. You can start preparing the ground for your vege plot now. Make sure it’s in a position where it will get plenty of winter sun. Gather resources from your home and garden. Collect brown leaves, grass clippings and weeds for compost, and plant into this mixture to give plants a healthy start.

3. Re-use meat trays from the supermarket to sow seeds. They are perfect. Heat a knife and make some holes in the bottom; line with newspaper or paper towels, wet the lining, then dig up some soil and crumble it finely on top. Water, sow seeds (not too deep) and water lightly every day until germination.

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4. When seeds are ready to be transferred to the ground, be sure to water seedlings daily in the cool morning. As the sun rises, its rays can damage wet leaves even through autumn, so watering later in the day will only cause harm.

5. Mulch around plants with brown leaves or carbon material — even ripped up newspaper or cardboard — and put grass clippings on top. This will protect plants from the rain splashes and retain vital nutrients for their growth.

6. Liquid feeding plants is great for replenishing them with nutrients if you have a worm farm to drain the liquid from, or compost tea. Other super-tonics include EM (effective micro-oganisms) and liquid kelp, as they boost plants with much-needed support. It is best to spray these on to the seedlings and plants, or you can put it in a watering can and water the base of your plants.

7. Try to sow seeds in alignment with the moon for the best results. The moon is a powerful force within the garden, literally pulling up or down — just like the tide. Sowing above-ground seeds when the moon is rising is really important as this harnesses the waxing energy and you will be rewarded with seeds sprouting quicker. After the full moon, sow below-ground crops such as beetroot, carrots, turnip, swede and Florence fennel.

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8. Bokashi is by far the quickest way for making soil and a one-stop-shop for quick and healthy growth. Food scraps are so valuable when inoculated and fermented with micro-organisms. If you’ve never heard of Bokashi before, get googling as there are heaps of resources out there, including Facebook pages like Bokashi New Zealand.

9. Finally, have the right mindset. The “I can” mindset in these times of restriction is very important. Our brains are very powerful and choosing to think positively in your garden will make all the difference — your plants will appreciate the love.

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