Sowing the seeds of winter harvests...

19 January, 2016

In the peak of summer its easy to get distracted by the lush plants and plentiful produce. After all, you have cucumbers, tomatoes and beans coming out of your ears (or so it feels when every day you pick yet ANOTHER at least five cucumbers, couple of handfuls of beans and multitude of tomatoes and wonder what in gods name you are going to do with them all), the corn is almost ready for harvest, the blackberries and peaches are coming thick and fast and altogether it seems too much to handle.

But don't let yourself be distracted. Now is the time to plant your seeds for winter harvests.

Yes, now.

The only year I had a good harvest of brassicas, particularly cauliflowers which I always find challenging to grow, was the year I sowed the seed in early January. Every other year since I've been distracted by the summer bounty and sown my brassica seeds in early Feb. Every time I've regretted it when the crops were delayed.

So this weekend just gone I got the brassica seeds out, and dutifully sowed my brassica seeds.


I planted these out in a variety of small tubes, with 2-4 seeds in each tube which I will prick out all but the strongest one or two seedlings.


These tubes are placed in shallow trays which when I water, the water collects in the tray and means the tubes never dry out. The water wicks up, and I top water gently, so the seeds should have plenty of moisture to germinate well.


I tie string around the tubes to stop them from falling over. Some sit well in the tubs and don't need it, but others need a little extra support. Like all of us at one time or another I guess.

In addition to my main brassica seeds, I also planted out my brussels sprouts seedlings.

Back in May last year I visited the garden of Annie Smithers. One of the many tips I picked up was that brussels spouts needs a longer growing season than most brassicas, so they sow the seed in October. Their brussels spouts plants were a sight to behold.

So back in late October I sowed brussels sprouts seeds. They grew very slowly, and only in the last few weeks have put on any decent growth. This weekend I decided they were big enough to go out into the adult plants garden, in one of the wicking beds.

Who can spot the white cabbage moth? They don't waste time do they.
When I was planting them out the white cabbage moths were already bearing down on the plants. Not wanting my plants to be munched to nothing by the voracious appetites of the white cabbage caterpillar, I quickly got out the nets.


That should stop them! Mwahahahaha!

So hopefully this will mean plentiful winter harvests. Almost as plentiful as the summer ones. Now I better go harvest those cucumbers.

10 comments:

  1. I was thinking about this on the weekend just gone and wondering if it was too early. Last year I planted in April and I'm only now, in summer, harvesting the cabbages. Great for slaw but not great for winter eating!

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    1. Yes, that is usually me. I only have one red cabbage left, which has sat stagnant since September, which I thought would go to seed but didn't. I've left it there and will see if it comes to life in Autumn.

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  2. Thanks for that tip Bek, I had no idea you were supposed to sow this early, I always wait until March before I sow my Brassica seeds, no wonder they are always so far behind everyone else's. I guess I know what I will be spending part of this weekend doing.

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    1. Well, I do find in our temperate climate that it seems to work. I don't know why the advice so often is sow in Autumn.

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  3. I've already potted up a few broccoli and sowed my kale yesterday.

    I've noticed very few cabbage whites around this season. Maybe the dryness has something to do with it? Be careful with that net. Those holes look largish. I've seen a butterfly carefully fold her wings and get through the holes in that type of net. I gave up using 1-inch wire when I discovered they could get through that and switched to half-inch. They got through that too! Now I use mosquito netting.

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    1. Well done you!
      I've seen a few cabbage moths about, but not many. I've never had issues with this size net, but I will swap it over as I don't want to lose these plants! Cheers for the tip.

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  4. Thanks, I will start checking on brassicas I can sow now.
    Just wondering about your netting for the white butterflies - have you found the mesh size to be small enough ?
    I have read that they crawl through even 1/2 inch mesh.
    http://www.rootsimple.com/2012/11/butterfly-barrier-failure/

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    1. I never have, but Bev (foodnstuff) obviously has. I will change it over. Cheers for the info.

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  5. Thanks for showing how you sow your seeds. I have been having troubles with them drying out, but I reckon that tray underneath so they can wick back up will be a big help!

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    1. Yes, I can't keep them moist in this weather without some help. It works well for both tall tubes and the short rectangular tubs I get seedlings in too.

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