Dubbo is in what we call a 'temperate zone' within Australia. A temperate zone usually experiences four seasons: Summer, Winter, Autumn & Spring. If you've lived here for long you would have noticed that we experience all four seasons quite strongly. With harsh dry summers and below 0 winters your plants live quite an extraordinary life. In this guide I will teach you how to give your vegetable garden a head start during the harsh climate we live in. Winter (1st June-31st August) is on it's way and this is what you can do to start preparing for it!
Sow: Basically putting seeds into soil for the purpose of growing something
Germinate: When the seed starts to sprout or shoot out beginning growth
1. SEEDS THAT WILL GROW OVER WINTER- Choosing the correct seeds to plant
Start sowing these seeds now (Autumn) so that they will grow over the winter period. See below instructions on how to grow each specific vegetable from Yates. One of the biggest mistakes first time growers make is not researching the plant they want to grow. Like most plants vegetables also have their own season. The following plants have been specifically chosen as they are suitable for colder climates and will produce a lovely crop at a suitable time.
Asparagus: https://www.yates.com.au/vegetables/grow/how-to-grow-asparagus/ Lambs Lettuce: https://www.yates.com.au/products/seeds/vegetables/lambs-lettuce-corn-salad/ Beetroot: https://www.yates.com.au/autumn/autumn-edibles/how-to-grow-beetroot/ Brocolli: https://www.yates.com.au/vegetables/grow/how-to-grow-broccoli/ Cabbage: https://m.yates.com.au/vegetables/grow/how-to-grow-cabbages/ Chard: https://www.yates.com.au/products/seeds/vegetables/silverbeet-rainbow-chard/ Kale: https://www.yates.com.au/products/seeds/vegetables/kale-edible/
2. GERMINATING SEEDS IN CONTAINERS: Getting your seeds to sprout in the cold Germinating seeds in containers indoor is a quick way to get your seeds sprouting before putting them in the garden. Because of your soils temperature, starting your garden this way is most likely going to be more effective. The quicker the seed germinates the quicker it can start to develop healthy growth before the real cold sets in! 1.Use a 1 or 2 litre empty used milk jug (plastic clear ones) -great way to recycle 2. Remove all traces from old milk, use hot water and soap to make sure inside is clean
3. Grab a drill or some sort of cutting object and push holes through the bottom of the container. These will be your drainage holes. Do them small (about 0.5cm in diameter) so that water will leave the container but soil will not fall through.
4. While you have your cutting utensils out, cut across (not downwards) the bottle just below the handle. Do not cut the whole top off, leave a few cms to create a hinge. This way you have a lid for your bottle that you can easily put soil in.
5.Grab your well draining soil and fill to just below where the hinged lid is. Before you put seeds in water the soil thoroughly to make sure the draining holes are accurate. Water should run out of these holes.
6. Throw in your seeds, you don't need to sew these. Disperse them easily covering the top layer of soil. Put your lid on (milk cap included) and duct tape the container closed. 7. Leave the container somewhere nice and sunny. Leave this for a few weeks, only opening the milk cap to see if the seeds are growing well. They will likely not need water as you've given the soil a thorough soak and the closed environment should make it's own system. You should be able to see the condensation dripping inside the milk carton which means it does not need water. If their is no water give it a slight watering from the milk cap. When you feel like your seeds are established and ready to put outside and grow simply plant them in your garden!
3. PLANTING YOUR WINTER VEGETABLE GARDEN-WHERE? How you place your plants can be vital to the ultimate success for your garden. Use the following guide as map.
ONIONS: Plant your onions and carrots close together. Fly's that are attracted to carrots will be deterred by the smell of onion and you can minimise potential fly damage. Also plant beetroot, cabbage, and parsnip close by. However Asparagus & Peas should be kept away from onions.
BEANS: Beans should be planted closely too Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Peas & Radishes. However keep them away from onions! RADISHES: Plant these around carrots, kale, spinach and onions
4.KEEPING YOUR NEW PLANTS WARM- Now that your seeds have germinated it's important to keep your new plants growing happily
Dubbo temperatures can get below zero degrees. It's best to be prepared on keeping your bulbs and sprouts warm when frosts are predicted! Their are a few things you can do to protect them from the frost.
1. Garden Cloth: The green mesh you often see over greenhouses- use it as a covering. 2. Overnight Tarp: Build a frame over your vegetable garden so you can place a tarp ontop of your frame overnight to prevent frost damage
3. Plastic Bottles: For smaller plants, cut litre soft drink bottles in half and place the bottom half over the plant simulating a dome. Overnight place these domes on your plant, this way they are in their own mini greenhouses and the frost won't damage them. *Recommended when the temperature drops below zero 4. Garden Fleece: You can pick up garden fleece cheap from any hardware store, simply layer it over your garden. For larger plants wrap it around them as if it's got a jacket on. 5. Over the top Greenhouses: For garden beds, you can pick up some really great small greenhouses that you simply put over the top of your patch. These are perfect if you don't have a certain amount of time to tend to your garden each night during frost periods. They will fit multiple plants and keep in warmth.
So if you choose to start your garden now, choose the correct seeds for your climate, germinate them inside and then when you replant them outside keep them warm!