with Chris Kulczycki
With winter fast approaching, now is the time to consider planning your productive winter garden.
There are a couple of ways to get started. Planting seeds is the most cost-effective way. It also gives you greater choice in terms of variety selection and allows you to stagger your growing to avoid having a glut of produce becoming ready at the one time.
There are two ways to start seedlings – by direct sowing into a prepared garden bed, or in punnets. When planting in punnets, the seedlings are later transplanted into their final position in the garden.
Where possible, I tend to prefer direct sowing. This has additional benefits, such as time saving, plants being potentially more resilient due to not having to be transplanted from a punnet and it also avoids deformities in some root vegetables that do not like being transplanted such as carrots. The types of plants I direct sow at this time of year include silverbeet, spinach, beetroot, carrot, peas, and broad beans.
Growing in punnets lends itself well to fine seeds or seedlings that tend to be more delicate to establish before planting out in the garden. For example, broccoli can be started as early as February in Perth if grown in punnets in a sheltered location. This allows you to ensure an early harvest and to avoid the hot February sun if direct sown. Later sowings of broccoli can be made directly in the garden. Onions and leeks, despite being root vegetables, do not mind being transplanted from punnets. Growing them in punnets allows you to plant them out in the garden with the correct spacing to allow the bulbs to grow to full size. Whereas if they were direct sown, you may then need to either thin them out or transplant into places where gaps appear.