Seeding winter veggies

Credit: Carolyn Herriot


When spaces open up from the spring/ summer garden after early crops of spinach, peas, garlic and lettuce, you can transplant healthy little seedlings from over a selection of 50 winter-hardy vegetables. “What’s for dinner?” in our house over winter means “What shall we harvest from the garden for tonight?”

Growing food in winter has to be one of the easiest things to do. For 15 years I have been offering winter-hardy veggies for sale in an annual winter vegetable sale at my business, The Garden Path.

I have since figured out how to grow winter veggie transplants in a few simple steps, which don’t even require pricking out fiddly seedlings!

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Simply lay flats out on a table, and line them with punnets, referred to as 12/01’s in the trade. You probably have stacks of used punnets in your garden shed. Fill the punnets with a commercial organic seeding mix, or make one up yourself.

Organic Seeding Mix
In a wheelbarrow mix:
1 part peat moss or alternatively use coir (coconut fibre is a waste product)
1 part perlite
1 part vermiculite
A good dusting of dolomite lime if you are using peat
A good dusting of balanced granular organic fertilizer (6:8:6 equivalent 5:2:4)

Premoisten to make sure seeding mix is thoroughly moistened. I usually make three slow passes over the table using a fan sprayer on the end of a hose to insure this.

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To seed simply envision each punnet with a few seedlings growing in it as you drop seeds sparingly and evenly over the surface of each punnet.

Overseeding results in unhappy stressed seedlings. It’s best to seed figuring on 70% germination rate. (Your own fresh seeds will be higher). So if I want 8 seedlings per punnet I sow approximately 12 seeds.

Tamp seeds down using an empty punnet. This way the seedlings will grow spaced apart. Top the punnet up with a handful of dry growing medium, and water once more using the hose and fan sprayer.

Label each flat with the varietal name, the source of the seeds and the date sown. This way you have a trace if no seeds germinate!

The only problem I encounter growing winter veggies is bugs – slugs, earwigs and sowbugs (all of which hang around near damp wood). They love eating tasty young vegetable seedlings, so I had to find a way to stop this.

By placing the flat on an upturned flat these pests don’t gain access to the seedlings from underneath, and because the space underneath is no longer moist they don’t hang out there! Simple – but effective!

Here’s my seeding list:
Kale ‘White Russian’
Kale ‘Red Russian’
Kale ‘Green Curley’
Collards ‘Champion’
Broccoli ‘Nine Star perennial’
Broccoli ‘Purple sprouting’
Broccoli ‘Green Goliath’
Silverbeet Five colour
Swiss Chard ‘Fordhook Giant’
Perpetual Spinach
Welsh bunching onions
Superior bunching onions
Rucola Italian arugula
Raddichio ‘Pallo Rossa’
Chicory ‘Rossa di Treviso’
Cabbage ‘Late Holland’
Cauliflower ‘Erfurdska’
Corn salad ‘Vit’
Feldsalat (Mache)
Carrots ‘Autumn King’
Chinese coriander, (Cilantro ‘Slo-bolt’)

To be seeded July 21st 2008
Winter Mesclun Mix
Mixed Winter Lettuces
Endive ‘Howe Sound’
Cress ‘Wrinkled Crinkled Crumpled’
Cress ‘Dutch Broadleaf’
Mustard ‘5-Mix mustard greens’
Pac Choi ‘Ching Chiang’
Mustard ‘Giant Red’
Mustard ‘Mizuna’
Mustard ‘Tendergreen’
Tatsoi oriental greens

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