>When harvesting beetroots, don’t throw
away the leaves, which are great in salads
and stir-fries. I often leave a few beetroots in
the ground after harvest for a good supply of
highly nutritious leaves. The roots, of course,
are delicious roasted, pickled or grated fresh
>Similarly don’t dig up cabbage, Brussels
sprouts and broccoli stalks immediately after
picking the main crop as sometimes they’ll
sprout baby brassicas. Make sure broccoli
heads are tightly closed when harvesting. If
you wait until they open and produce flowers,
they won’t taste as good.
>Pip fruit such as apples and pears should be
finishing their cropping season now, along
with almonds, walnuts, macadamias and
other nuts. Leave a few apples on the tree for
the birds during the colder months or cut in
>There’s no need to stop making salads during
the winter months. Many lettuce varieties are
cold-tolerant and there are plenty of other
leafy plants you can grow in winter, such as
orach (aka red mountain spinach), mizuna,
rocket, red mustard and kale. Nutritious kale
isn’t fussy about soil and tolerates salt-laden
winds, but tastes best when well watered.
>Bok choy is an excellent winter green. It can
be a magnet for aphids in summer but less so
in the cooler months. Choose a sunny spot
with fertile, well-drained soil and sow a few
seeds every 3-4 weeks for continuous
harvesting. Feeding weekly with a liquid
fertiliser will improve growth rate and quality.
>Broad beans might not yield a huge crop for
the space they take up, but they’re an
easy-care winter vege and taste superb in
risottos, stir-fries, salads, mashes and even
dips. Sow seed directly into well-drained,
compost-enriched soil with plenty of sun.
A good support system and shelter from the
wind are ideal as these plants get quite tall.
Sow seed around 5cm deep and 20cm apart.
>Mustard plants are great to have in the
garden for both culinary and medicinal
purposes, with seed, flowers and leaves all
harvested. You can also sow mustard as a
cover crop if you don’t tend to grow veges
during the colder months. A cover crop
protects the soil and is then dug back in
during spring, adding valuable humus.
>Plant strawberries now for delicious fruit in
spring. Dig in well-rotted compost, chicken
manure, sheep pellets, seaweed or any other
organic matter so the soil is rich and fertile.
Mulch at least 1m around plants so as fruit
develops it sits on the mulch, not the soil.
>Now is a good time to plant lemon and other
citrus trees, ideally in a sunny spot sheltered
from cold winds. Soil should be well drained
and fertile. Add compost and other organic
matter at least 3 weeks before planting so the
delicate young roots are not burnt. Water well
and mulch around drip line of trees. Feed in
late winter or early spring with citrus fertiliser.
>Leeks (and onions) are much easier to grow
from seedlings than seeds, and winter leeks
have a sweeter flavour than those grown in
the warmer months. Practise good crop
rotation by planting in a spot where you’ve
grown brassicas such as cabbage or broccoli
previously. Full sun is best although leeks will
tolerate a little shade and they don’t mind
wind. Soil should have well-rotted compost or
manure dug into it a few weeks before
planting plus some general fertiliser. If soil is
acidic, add a little lime also. Avoid boggy soil.
>In colder districts, plant garlic now but wait
until midwinter in warmer areas.
>For a tasty, healthy snack for school lunches,
try snow peas. Easy to grow from seedlings or
seed, they are the perfect crop for little ones
who want to try their hands at gardening.
Planting chives around lettuce and other leafy greens can help
deter white butterfly caterpillars from munching your crops.
half and skewer on a nail near the kitchen
window so you can watch them feed.
>Dig up yams for roasting, soups and stews.
Leave tubers in the sun for a day or two to
increase sweetness and reduce bitterness.
>Related to the sunflower, Jerusalem
artichokes are rich in potassium, iron and a
variety of other nutrients. When tops have
wilted, cut plants down to about 30cm and
lift tubers by hand in autumn and midwinter.
Use them instead of potatoes in soups, or
roasted, pan-fried, puréed or simply boiled.
Unlike spuds, they contain no starch so are
very low in calories, making them ideal for
dieters and diabetics.
>Harvest celery by cutting off a few outside
stalks at a time but don’t leave plants too long
as stalks will eventually turn woody and
yhg | 135