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Sowing and Growing A Small Winter Garden

After all the disruption in recent weeks of not having enough food readily available, I’ve thought maybe I should work a little harder at trying to be more self-sustaining?!

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With all the current restrictions in place, I feel unprepared with not having enough produce growing in my little suburban raised garden beds. I have lettuce, spring onion and celery still producing but there is a lot of space now that summer plants have finished.

The empty soil seems like a waste to me so I want to see if I can get something growing, even though we are on lockdown and nothing much is open countrywide.

Early Autumn in New Zealand

We are onto Day 27 of this quarantine and I have had a break in the weather. Here in New Zealand it’s coming into late autumn/winter and now the sun is out, the wind is here but it’s not cold so I’m going to go out in the garden.  

Because it’s fairly mild here, I’m thinking that I could possibly get some seeds going if I had them in a glasshouse kind of structure. I have used my one successfully in the past, anything will work that can keep the temperature away from the seedlings and hold the suns warmth in. 

I’ve got a little pottle of different seeds here that I have kept forever, as well as seed labelling items so I can always remember what I planted. 

I’ve tried to go online to purchase things but there is a rather large wait and the local stores that are open have nothing available as they’ve sold out. Because I have some seeds I’ll see what I can do with what I’ve got.

Seeds On Hand…

Seeds I have on hand are Red Onions, Baby Tomatoes, Sunflowers (3 kinds), Watermelon, Cucumber, Sweet Corn, Scallopini, Broccoli, Various Lettuce, Parsley and Basil.

I can’t sow cucumber (unless I have indoor facilities), sweetcorn won’t work, neither will scallopini or watermelon for this time of year. The rest I will definitely plant and see what grows! 

  • Red onions
  • Baby Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Various Lettuce
  • Parsley 
  • Basil

I currently have Coriander (Cilantro) resubmerging in a planter which works well keeping it separate, especially because I can move the plant in and out of shelter and sun depending on what it prefers. I am going to do the same with Parsely and Basil, not sure if it’s the right season for them but we will see.

I do have Cos Lettuce, Celery and Spring Onion growing in my garden already which we are using, so if I can replenish my garden growth before these are finished I will be super pleased!

Coriander (Cilantro) has begun to grow again
Currently have Cos Lettuce, Celery and Spring Onion growing in my garden

Getting seeds started

Today I had to do some minor weeding of the garden boxes, it wasn’t too bad as I had cleared out remaining debris weeks before in later spring. I’ve just used regular gardening soil out of my existing planter boxes (no fussing here), hopefully, it will be enough goodness to sprout these seeds! 

I have put my dirt into whatever seed raising containers I could find, I didn’t have many. As long as you can keep your seedlings watered but water can still drain away from the soil, the container will work. They don’t need much soil, just enough to grow down a little and gain strength to be planted in the open garden.

Heirloom seeds

I have some Heirloom seeds for Red Onion, Broccoli and Mixed Lettuce that I’m trying to be careful not to waste as I plant. Heirloom or Heritage means the seeds are 10 years old or more, harvested and kept because of their good production. It also means that you will always be able to harvest seeds off them for the following year for yourself without having to buy more. Another form of self-sufficiency!

In the next few weeks, I am going to order Beetroot and Leek seeds, these were growing in our garden very well when we moved in at the end of winter 4 years ago, so these I know I can make happen! Kingseeds.co.nz

To come later this winter;

  • Beetroot
  • Leek
  • Spinach
  • Radishes (maybe)

It took just over an hour to get all my seeds planted. I took my time because it was very nice being out in the sun and satisfying getting this project underway. 

My Garden Boxes and Greenhouse

I don’t have a tonne of space, of course, just 3-4 raised beds that are approximately 2 metres long and 500 deep so I can’t grow everything I will need to feed my family, but attempting to contribute towards our food consumption throughout the year is really good for our budget and is an enjoyable practice.

Garden boxes approx. 180cm x 70cm (6ft x 2.5ft)
Planting seedlings in anything that hold soil and seedlings but able to drain water away

I have planted quite a few seeds, but I am assuming some of them won’t grow. I think I’ve got enough space for the majority of the seeds planted to fill the garden boxes I have. Let’s hope they take!

The home-made greenhouse I have made will do, for now, I think I may have to buy a larger (but still smaller) greenhouse for the back door that can grow actual plants throughout the winter. That will have to wait until the quarantine is over and shops re-open. 

A greenhouse lets the sun in while still protecting the seedlings from wind, heavy rain and frosts

For now, I’m using a pallet with sides covered in to reduce wind and cold and an old glass door that will let the sun in but the weather out. Ie. frost, wind and heavy rain. This means I will have to water them regularly or they will most definitely die!

I will definitely check back with you in a few weeks and show you the progress. The growth, the layout and the additions if I have any.