For many, winter is a season when it is not possible to cultivate in our gardens. But the truth is that this is not the case. Like each season, it has its own peculiarities that require more care in the garden, such as lower temperatures or storms. But, it is still a time to continue with our autumn garden or start with our crops. This is why we put together the best tips for your winter garden, asking three garden entrepreneurs their opinions about this season.
What can we sow? What care is needed? How to order the cultivation beds? Here we discuss it. With the arrival of winter, we have received the visit of long days of rain in some parts of Chile, and we have also witnessed the days with increasingly lower temperatures. Along with this, in the pandemic we are experiencing, much more has been said about orchards and how they are increasingly necessary for food security. This manifested both in community gardens as in our own homes, being also an activity that we can develop during the quarantine.
The autumn-winter season began a couple of months ago, and on that occasion, we shared with you some useful tips to start building your own gardens. Among these, how to assemble our cultivation beds, seedlings, what to plant and precautions to take. Now we are looking to make a continuation of this or a start for those who want to start growing in winter. This is a season in which you have to take some special care due to the temperatures and humidity, but it still has its own characteristics that make it special to follow or make our garden. And to have the best tips to do it, we spoke with different entrepreneurial gardeners who gave us different tips for the winter.
Is it a good time to sow?
The winter climate helps us to continue with our garden and it is a myth that in winter there is little food.
Complementing it, Winifrede Walbaum, who is dedicated to doing online garden workshops, explains that although there are things that can be grown in winter, the winter garden is usually a continuation of the autumn garden and that it is a time when there is a certain “rest”. It is time to fertilize the land, to work it for the seasons to come. It can be grown, but the variety and quantity are less. Everything grows slower.
What can be sown?
Vegetables that are best to sow and cultivate in winter are the leaves. And to these add some more. Between these: Chard, spinach, celery, kale, arugula, mizuna, mustard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, broad beans, carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, lettuce, onions and coriander, among others. It is very good to grow all legumes as well as beans, peas, because they all fix nitrogen in the land and make it more fertile. So planting that now is ideal, the leaves behave better this season because they do not seed as fast as in summer.
What is the main care to be taken in winter?
At this time, the main threat is low temperature, but the good thing is that as we know, we can anticipate it. Mulch can help us isolate the temperature. This is, a vegetal layer of dry leaves, loose branches or cut grass, among other things. For those who don’t have a greenhouse, you can make tunnels and put anti-frost nets with some recycled plastic -for example, a transparent shower curtain: “The idea is that it enables the sun’s rays to pass through, but give them a temperature that does not burn and the leaves are protected from large storms or low temperatures.
In addition, there is a kind of greenhouse effect and, by having a higher temperature inside; we are going to make them grow a little faster”. Along with these options, Pinto adds that the crops can be covered with a plastic blanket that allows the passage of light or thermal blankets. Now, if we are in a place where it rains a lot, having tall grow beds for better drainage. On the other hand, the less rain, the lower the cultivation beds so that the humidity is maintained.
How do I take care of my garden of animals?
Already in the tutorial of autumn gardens from Chile, Huerta shared with us how to build barriers to prevent the passage of our pets that want to eat our vegetables. These barriers were a solution for his dogs because they like to go eat carrots.
Now, he also explains that there are some dogs that can be trained from a young age not to eat vegetables. For some pets, like cats, she says mulch can be a good solution and that it has helped some of her students.
Is it necessary to start with the seedlings?
A seedbed is when we sow the seeds outside the garden, in a box or container of manageable size, until the plant is of adequate size and can be transplanted to the garden. You can make seedlings in most crops, but that she prefers to directly plant carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, peas and broad beans: “I recommend putting a maximum of 3 seeds and between them a space of approximately 10 cm and a maximum depth of three times the size of the seed.
As a tip, with the carrot or everything that grows underground it helps to mix compost with sand so that everything under the ground develops well”. It is recommended starting with seedlings whenever possible. But there are numerous cases where it is advisable to start on land. For example, in the case of carrots, this is ideal because otherwise, the roots could not become entangled, and they tend to become entangled in a new environment. To this radishes and cilantro are better without seedlings because they grow fast; instead he recommends starting with olive groves with those that are grown in large numbers.
As things tend to grow slower in winter, I recommend to those who want to start building their gardens to buy larger seedlings that do not start from seed and, in parallel, start with seeds for the summer garden. If you are going to start now, let it be little by little and start with the tomato, the paprika and the eggplant from seed, taking care of them like buses inside the house until it is hot. Everything can be grown at this time, but a little slower, they grow the same and from seedlings we do not feel that the thing is eternal.
To this he adds that seedlings help the succession of crops: “For example, if I have a lettuce, when it is harvested or blooms, it is ideal to have a seedbed instead of starting from scratch with a seed. So, I can have seedlings in parallel to my garden and that way I don’t run out of food.
How should I structure my grow bed?
This is a key point since to have a healthy garden, it is advisable to follow certain tips, which apply throughout the year. Work on four legs, just like the crop rotation. The first rows are the main crops that have been all you can plant. I sacredly combine that with scents that grow from above: coriander, parsley, chives. Also with another row of smells that grow from below those are garlic, onions, chives, leeks and shallots, which I put in the spaces between the lettuces, for example. The flowers that I like on the sides. But always
combining these four legs. Then each square meter can be assembled by putting the flowers at the end, in the center they divide the 2 × 1 bed by smells at the top and we put the main crops that we combine with smells at the bottom. In this sense, explains Walbaum, the most important thing about a grow bed is not the space, but the diversity. “Not having only onions or cabbage, but having everything.
This includes flowers and herbs, which repel pests or distract pests. Flowers are biological corridors so they attract pollinators and help to house more life within the garden”. Regarding the latter, he recommends calendula and pansies for this time; and for aromatic herbs it can be lavender, rosemary which are also flowers-, parsley, oregano and coriander. This refers to the cultivation association. One should always think about this diversity, how to keep the garden as diverse as possible.
So much so as not to deplete the soil in its nutrients and to be able to deal with pests or disorders. Having this association of cultivation is too important especially to make a natural balance appear, explains Pinto, who adds like the other two vegetable gardens that this is essential to carry out natural pest control:” When a vegetable garden has been fed time is balancing itself.
Then one can enhance it and can “artificially” put a basil next to a tomato so that it is balanced and protect the tomato from its pests, but in the end this balances itself. For this, making the crop association is key, in the end everyone helps each other. The crop association helps above all to the good nutrition of the land and, complementing Pinto, to reduce the number of pestssince the plants are more resistant and are more protected and fed.
However, it clarifies that the existence of pests is natural and normal when working without chemicals and that this indicates that there is life. To this he adds that organic solutions to repel them can be in Neem oil and hortiga Purin to fertilize and control pests. How do you prepare? Filling a drum with 1/3 of hortiga leaves, filling with water and beating every day for two weeks. When that time passes, it is strained and if you want to fertilize, the garden is watered. On the other hand, if it is needed for pest control, it is applied on the back of the leaves, which is where the eggs are usually installed.