How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Despite a downturn in interest when it comes to the winter garden, there is still an abundance on offer for those that show a little grit. The cool season in Australia and New Zealand, by relative terms, is actually pretty balmy for the most part and either way, vegetables don't mind a little crispness in the air.

If anything, cooler conditions lessen the level of maintenance necessary now, and the winter garden is perhaps the most easy-going of all. In fact, we like to think of winter as unique; it is the only season in the year that vegetables slip into cruise control.

That's right, looking after the patch now is much like driving through the desert - without a car in sight. We're riding steady at 110km/h, right arm collecting air on the windowsill. It's beautiful. Perhaps you're reading this now and wondering why you've never tried growing at home before, but it's never too late to get the garden started or add some thing you'd never thought you would.

Get Planting

Our climate means that at any moment - right now for example - you can pick up a container, fill it up with good quality potting mix, and plonk in a few salad greens. A few weeks later and you're picking salads fresh, rather than from a plastic bucket at the supermarket. If salads don't take your fancy, try something a little harder. Silverbeet, spinach or kale, are all profoundly happy entering the garden during winter.

Harvest Time

On the other side of the fence are the true gardeners. The ones who were organised and diligent and had everything set at the right moment in autumn. If this is you, you should be approaching a mini-harvesting glut right now. Anything from peas, broad beans and beetroots, to broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage will be building a level of anticipation in the veggie patch. This is all hardy produce, which goes towards hardy food, and winter is the best time to embellish our bellies in the good stuff.

Now is also the time that you may stumble across a surplus of citrus. I did just the other day. Perhaps the largest orange tree I can remember, standing at nearly 10m tall, had enough fruit on the ground alone to satisfy half-time refreshments for a season of footy games. And that's the thing about the seasons, even the one that seems less prolific. While we may stop or slow down a little, and baulk at the idea of trudging out into the garden, the food chain does not, and there's always something incredible on offer.

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