Winter is coming… which means it’s time to get to know what vegetables to grow in winter in Australia. If you’re keen to get in the garden this cold season and plant some veggies, we’ve brought you the top gardening tips and top vegetables to plant this winter.
2020 ensured we had to spend a lot of time in the house and many Australians picked up new hobbies to keep themselves occupied. One of the major trends spurring from lockdown was the rise of Aussies beginning or progressing through their gardening journey. It’s no secret gardening has its own struggles, so we’ve created a list of must-know tips and the 6 best winter vegetables to grow in your garden.
A healthy garden is essential to creating a cozy and homely feeling in your house, so we’ll show you how to get prepared for winter. By the end of this article you’ll know what the best vegetables for your garden are and 7 essential tips you need to make sure they flourish.
7 Tips to Grow Winter Vegetables
1. Dig up dying plants.
If you’ve tried gardening through summer and autumn and you have plants starting to die, make sure to get digging to make room for your new winter vegetables. Freeing up cluttered space in your garden will help keep it tidy, and will help you plan where your new plants are going to go.
To remove dying plants, start by cutting around the plant with a sharp spade or shovel and make sure you dig deep enough to remove the plant from the root. This will ensure your new plants don’t have to compete for nutrients with pre-existing roots. Make sure to water the hole you’ve just created and fill it with rich, healthy soil to ensure it makes a perfect home for the veggies to come.
2. Stay on-top of weeding.
Yes, we know; no one loves weeding. But the hard truth is, weeding is a necessity to make sure you have veggies to harvest this winter. It’s good practice to get on top of your weeding before you get to planting your vegetables to ensure they have the best foundation for growth.
You can go about weeding the old-fashioned way and pull them out manually, be sure to remove the weeds entirely! If you’re reading this thinking, “There’s no way i’m pulling out weeds in the winter with my bare hands,” try a couple of these tricks below.
For juvenile weeds, you can simply pour boiling water over them, which will kill them off. Alternatively, mixing a solution of ¼ cup of salt and 1 cup of vinegar will create a poison for the weeds, which you can simply paste on. Be careful not to get the weed killer on your plants as it will kill them too! The plus side of these remedies is they’re all chemical free, leaving your veggies fresh and healthy come harvest time.
3. Give your plants plenty of sunlight.
Once you’ve done all the prep and you’re ready to plant your winter vegetables, you need to find a spot in your garden where the veggies will be exposed to all the sunlight they need. On average, most veggies will need about 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day, so make sure no bushes or trees are in the way that will be blocking the sunlight to your plants.
If you’re restricted to how much sunlight you get in your garden, a great option is to lean towards leafy greens as some can manage with about 4 to 6 hours of sunlight.
4. Nourish your plants with the right soil.
The type of soil in your veggie garden is going to be one of the most important factors in determining how well your winter vegetables will do. It’s a good idea to invest in high-quality soil with plenty of organic matter as they are abundant with nutrients.
If you’re confident the soil you have is already of good quality, ensure you work and turn the soil so it doesn’t become compacted. When soil compacts, it can make it hard for roots to grow and absorb water.
Turning the soil makes it easier for roots to spread and it also ensures you’re extracting the nutrients out of the soil, making it easily accessible for the plants. Another pro tip is to add animal manures to the soil. Cow manure is ideal for winter veggies, especially topped up with the right mulch.
5. Start using mulch.
Another key tip for your winter vegetable garden is to capitalise on the benefits of using mulch in your garden. As temperatures drop, protect the roots of your veggies from harsh winds, freezing colds or even surprise warm spells. Adding a layer of mulch about 10cm thick will help plants self-regulate their temperatures and keep a consistent soil temperature.
Mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil, a major factor in ensuring plant growth in areas with drier winters, such as South East Queensland. Another benefit of mulching is it can make life difficult for weeds, meaning your plants will be soaking in more water and nutrients.
What type of mulch should I be using?
Organic mulches are the way to go for a veggie garden as they’re high in nutrients and great for retaining moisture in the soil. Compost is well-known for being one of the most nutritious mulches to use as it enriches the soil very quickly. Be sure to use a generous amount!
Lucerne and pea straw are more great choices to use as they are high in proteins and minerals. Finally, wood chips or bark are widely used as they’re super effective and typically a bit easier on the eye. They’re great for water retention and are a tidier option as they won’t stick to your boots or dirty your walkways.
6. Water the right way.
Although it seems pretty straight forward, there are a few tricks to watering your plants. How often you need to water your winter vegetables will vary based on the soil quality, your climate and the plants itself. The main point is you want to ensure your soil doesn’t dry up!
You can gauge this by simply feeling the soil with your hands or you can buy a soil moisture meter if you want a bit more reassurance. A winter gardening tip is to avoid watering in the evening as this can chill or freeze your plants, often killing them. Instead, try watering them in the morning or during the warmest part of the day. This will ensure your plants are getting the water they need when they need it most.
7. Protect the plants from the wind.
One major threat to the survival of your winter vegetables is the harsh winds the Australian winter can bring. Protect your plants by using a simple barrier as it could be the make or break of your veggie patch.
If you want to take on some D.I.Y. tasks, hammer some stakes into the ground around your plants and wrap some burlap around them. Otherwise, you can simply place some bricks around your plants to cover their base.
There are many different styles of nettings and mesh you can find in most gardening stores which you will be able to find to suit your specific needs. You can also use plastic screening and staple it to the stakes to create an even more effective wind barrier.
On a smaller scale, you can cut the top off a plastic bottle, giving you a dome of sorts. Place this around your plant and push it about an inch into the soil to protect it from winds and frost.
6 Best Vegetables to Grow in Winter Australia
A staple in most households, broccoli is going to be one of the most practical winter vegetables you can grow this winter. Whether you throw it into your salads, have it with your steak or even use it in your bento box, you’ll love the convenience of having fresh broccoli in your backyard. Harvest time typically takes 16 to 20 weeks.
Where does broccoli grow best?
Broccoli grows well in most parts of Australia, both tropical and subtropical areas, namely North and South East Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Western Australia.
Pro tip: If you are growing broccoli in dry parts of Australia, try growing it in a large pot to maximise water retention.
How much sun do broccoli plants need?
Broccoli thrives off plenty of sun, so try to find a place in your garden where this winter vegetable will get 6 to 8hrs of direct sunlight every day.
How do I look after broccoli?
Broccoli plants love moist soil, so you’ll want to water them regularly. If you are planting in a pot, ensure it’s over 50cm diameter or make sure it has half a meter to grow in a vegetable garden. It’s always a good idea to use plant food in combination with premium soil. To keep the soil cool, mulch like straw or shredded leaves are favourable.
What to plant with broccoli
Carrots are a household staple and a super versatile vegetable to grow in winter, perfect for winter soups, fresh pasta dishes and even a popular vote for finger food with dips. Harvesting time usually takes 10 to 15 weeks.
Where do carrots grow best?
Carrots are able to withstand many different types of climates, but they grow best in tropical climates like the Northern Territory, North Queensland and Western Australia.
How much sun do carrot plants need?
Carrots grow best with full sun, so make sure to have a well dug hole in a location free from trees, shrubs or fences blocking the sun. An average of 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day is ideal!
How do I look after my carrots?
Make sure to turn and loosen soil before planting carrots. Feed the plants weekly with plant food to ensure healthy growth. Watering will depend on your region, but a good rule of thumb is to keep the soil moist (but not too wet) about 3 inches deep. It’s important to stay on top of weeding and inspect for any pests which may be eating at your crop.
What to plant with carrots.
3. Garden peas.
Peas are a super easy winter vegetable to grow, even if you have a small backyard. A household must in the winter time, fresh peas will be a treat in home-cooked pea and ham soup or perhaps you’d like to warm up with a classic shepherd’s pie. The typical harvest time for peas is usually 10 to 16 weeks from initial planting, and every 2 to 3 weeks from then on.
Pro tip: Be sure to pick peas regularly to improve their growing rate
Where do garden peas grow best?
Like carrots, garden peas can grow in many parts of Australia, but they typically do best in cooler regions such as Victoria and Tasmania.
How much sun do garden peas need?
Peas will thrive off full sun exposure. Find a sunny spot in your garden or indoors where your peas will get about 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. However, if you live in warmer climates, such as North Queensland or the Northern Territory, partial shade will be okay provided they’re still getting about 4 hours of direct sunlight.
How do I look after my peas?
It’s important not to overwater peas and only water the soil after planting. Watering beforehand will compact the soil too much. It’s also a good idea to use well draining soil.
If you’re planting your peas outdoors, the amount of watering will depend on the rainfall, just make sure the soil is moist about 3 to 6 inches deep. It’s also best to water first thing in the morning.
What to plant with peas
Lettuce is the universal winter salad staple. Lettuce is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables worldwide and it’s packed with vitamin C, iron and is a great source of fibre. Lettuce has also been known to possibly help with hydration, bone strength and improving sleep. Add fresh lettuce to your wraps, sandwiches or use them to keep your Mexican dishes fresh and healthy. Typical harvest time for lettuce is 6 to 8 weeks.
Where does lettuce grow best?
Lettuce is one of the most diverse winter vegetables in Australia in terms of where it can grow. From the dry and drought-ridden regions like the outback, mediterranean climates like Adelaide and Perth, and the subtropics of South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, lettuce seems to thrive.
How much sun does lettuce need?
Lettuce will take in as much sun as it can get! Being another winter veggie that will need full sun, position it in a location where it will get 10 to 12 hours of sun a day. So make sure this Australian winter vegetable plant is front and centre in the sunlight.
How do I look after my lettuce?
Make sure you only plant lettuce seeds about 3mm deep in soil. Any deeper and it’ll make it harder for lettuce to grow.
It’s also important to keep watering regularly. Keep the soil moist, otherwise the leaves can dry out and your lettuce will taste bitter.
Pro tip: Regularly picking the outer leaves will promote growth.
What to plant with lettuce
Asparagus is a delicious Australian winter vegetable while also being a rich source of nutrients, a natural anti-inflammatory and great for digestion, asparagus is a health cheat code! Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey rave about asparagus, not only for the health benefits, but for the flavours you can get out of it.
Asparagus plants are one for the long haul with typical harvest time being about two years when planting from crown. Planting from the crown means you take a cutting from the top of another asparagus plant and sow it into the ground rather than seeds.
Where does asparagus grow best?
Asparagus typically grows best in drier areas with temperate conditions, like coastal New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, as well as cooler states such as Tasmania.
How much sun does Asparagus need?
Asparagus thrives best in full sun areas. As it’s a multi-year process, there isn’t really a magic number as to how many hours it should get daily, but do your best to make sure the plants are getting plenty of light throughout the day. If you’re struggling for space, fear not. Asparagus will still tolerate partial shade.
How do I look after my asparagus?
Sow the crown 15 to 20cm deep into rich, well-draining soil, and space each crown about 40cm apart from each other. Water regularly to keep the soil moist, but not wet.
It’s best to mulch asparagus plants with organic matter such as grass clippings, compost or shredded bark. As it is a long process to grow asparagus, it’s important to stay on top of weeding and pests.
What to plant with asparagus
Spinach is a versatile leafy green and a certified superfood! This Australian winter vegetable has an average harvest time of 6 to 8 weeks.
Where does spinach grow best?
Spinach grows best in cooler and drier climates like in Victoria, Tasmania, inland Australia, and also subtropical regions like Northern New South Wales and Queensland.
How much sun does it need?
Full sun is ideal for growing sweet-tasting spinach, but it will still tolerate partial shade. As a rule of thumb, give your spinach 6+ hours a day of sunlight if you can, but it will still grow well with 4 to 6 hours a day.
How do I look after my spinach?
Firstly, space your seeds about 20cm apart to make sure they have plenty of space. Use well-drained soil, feed with a liquid plant feed and lightly mulch with organic matter, such as compost or composted manure. Keep the soil moist and water frequently. In warmer climates, you may even want to water twice a day to keep the soil cool.
What to plant with spinach
You can find all your winter vegetable gardening in Australia supplies at your local nursery. Find your nearest garden supply store near you on localsearch.com.au.