How to: Grow your own veges this winter

Green goddess Wendyl Nissen shares tips on how to grow your own veges - and save money - this winter.

Gathering vegetables from your own garden over winter is so rewarding, but before you plant, a bit of groundwork is needed.

While I leave my big garden to rest for the winter, I’ve turned my green fingers to our small raised garden, which is under way now and stocked with delicious, low-maintenance greens.

But before I started sowing seeds, I was reminded of how important it is to get the soil right when preparing a new bed.

Here are some tips to make sure you get great soil for your seedlings:

• Most living things need the right mix of nutrients to grow strong and resistant to disease. Plants are no exception. Pests and disease tend to attack weak plants, and if a healthy plant is attacked, the negative effects are most often minimal. So if you want to grow organically or use as few sprays and chemicals in the garden as you can, then you need to give your plants a good start. For plants to thrive, they need to develop a good root system in friable soil. Sometimes a plant’s root system can be bigger than the plant itself.

• Physically preparing the soil for a small garden will take about half an hour. Firstly, choose the site for your garden. Make sure it gets sun all day if you want good results.

• Dig a trench along one length of it, one spade deep, shovelling the dirt into a pile or a wheelbarrow. Dig the same trench, but another spade depth again, shovelling all the dirt onto the pile.

• Now do another trench, putting all that soil into the hole you have left from the first trench.

• Work your way, row by row, along your garden site until you get to the last trench, then fill that with the soil from your first trench, which is in your wheelbarrow or in a pile.

• Your soil should be all fluffed up and friable, and just in need of a going over with the garden fork, but first, invest in some organic blood and bone, lime, compost and sulphate of potash. Tip it all over the garden (read instructions on the bags for the amount). Fork it all through and leave it to sit for two to three weeks.

• Your garden is now ready for planting because it has good nutrients and plenty of room for the roots to grow.

• Try not to walk all over it and compact the soil again. Use a few carefully placed bricks or old planks of wood to make a path through the garden.

Watch: How to get kids in the garden

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