With just three weeks until the winter solstice, the point in the year when daylight hours are shortest and the darkness lingers, the last thing you might feel like doing is gardening. Don’t be put off. Either get out and enjoy what light there is, or celebrate the quietness of winter by dreaming of warmer and lighter times ahead.
This all goes to pot, of course, if you live in the tropics. Up north daylight hours stay almost the same all year round and there are only really two distinct seasons. Hot and wet, and hot and dry. Hot and dry is your cue for a big gardening effort. Plant anything and everything this month, including summer vegies like tomatoes, corn, beans, capsicum, chillies, basil, okra, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers and zucchinis. You can also get in some of the less fussy winter vegies that are being grown down south. Think kale, broccoli, peas and cabbage. Don’t forget salad greens such as rocket, lettuce, sorrel, mustard and chicory.
In the subtropics, continue planting peas and salad greens, both of which will thrive in the mellow conditions of a subtropical winter. Keep sowing root vegies such as beetroot, turnip, radish, carrot and parsnip, and why not try something different like celeriac or salsify. Brassicas including kale, rocket and spinach are worth planting during winter while cabbage white butterflies are hibernating.
Out in the arid and semi arid inland, Jack Frost is making an appearance, and he loves nothing better than to freeze the daylights out of tender summer vegies. Rip out spent crops and replace them with hardy winter vegies with built in anti-freeze. Try broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard, spinach, and chicory. While you’re at it, why not pop in a rarity such as miners lettuce, collard greens or mache.
For those of us in temperate zones, winter has hit with a vengeance this year. If you’re keen to plant anything during June, go for those hardy survivors that willingly germinate in cold conditions. Think onions, spinach, leeks, broad beans, kale, Asian greens, broccoli, cabbages, radishes, and turnips. The trick to getting decent germination at this time of year without having seeds rot in cold soil is to ensure drainage is sharp, and overwatering is avoided. Sow, give a single deep watering, then wait until seedlings poke their heads above ground before watering again.
By: Justin Russell
First published: June 2018