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Vegetables to grow in winter

Zimbabwe does not have severe winters like those experienced in other countries, even though we still get a fair share of our cold days. The good news is despite the amount of frost we may receive, most green leafy vegetables will thrive.

farm & garden with Doreen Badze

Onions are a fantastic winter vegetable

Onions are a fantastic winter vegetable

Every gardener should make an effort to plant all required vegetables considering that gardening is easy and does not need hours of many back-breaking hours to be able to have successful harvests. One gardener just enquired about cucumber seedlings to plant on open field. I asked if he was aware that we are now entering winter and a cucumber will not flourish due to cold weather unless grown in a protected environment such as the greenhouse. My conversation with this inexperienced gardener is what prompted me to come up with this topic.
Knowledge deficit exhibited by this gardener makes it clear that not everyone has knowledge of what to plant when seasons change.

The rainy season is almost gone. Most farmers and home gardeners are harvesting their summer crops and quickly preparing land for winter crops. For new gardeners, there is a lot to learn, even though the most important part is to start as it gets better with experience. Among the list of preparation stages, the gardener should be able to choose a vegetable site carefully and most importantly, prepare the soil properly and plant the right varieties of vegetables, as well as the right quantities this time of the year.

Once the size of the garden has been determined, planning has to be done considering the vegetables that need to be planted according to the family size. Most vegetables need adequate sunlight to thrive, so it is imperative to choose a sight that receives sunlight and that is well-drained. Space can be divided into two areas, one for leafy vegetables and one for root vegetables. Soil preparation is key to healthy plants. Having soil tested is the way to go, to be able to improve it according to recommendations. Acidity of soil is determined by obtaining soil pH and lime and fertiliser requirements can follow. However, addition of aged compost will yield good results. Fresh manure is not recommended as it may cause forking of roots in root vegetables.

Winter vegetables

Common green leafy vegetables include cabbages, rape, tsunga, broccoli, cauliflower, covo rugare, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, bok choy and a lot more. With use of aged manure, these perform really well and can easily be maintained organically in a backyard family garden. Root vegetables that include carrots, beets, radishes turnips and onions and garlic are mostly winter crops that need to be planted now. If seeds have not already been sawn by now, it is best to obtain seedlings from nurseries. However, root vegetables can be sawn directly on the ground, especially carrots that can later be thinned and eaten as baby carrots. If a sunny area is limited, lettuce can take a bit of shade. Give a try to different varieties of vegetables and not be stuck with one variety year after year. A good example is rugare. I have watched gardeners obtaining shoots and cuttings from their old rugare plants to replant again and again. Maybe considering planting hybrid rugare for a change is not a bad idea. The seeds are available at most seed houses and seedlings at most nurseries. There seems to be the fear of trying new varieties with some gardeners. I must confess I have been one of them, slowly embracing hybrid varieties. However, regardless of new varieties — sweet cabbage — one of the oldies always has a place in my garden around this time of the year for its sweetness is enhanced by the cold weather.

The backyard garden should have a little bit of most vegetables of your choice. In this tight economy, striving to have a self-suffient garden is the way to go, for fresh nutrient dense food.

This week in our nursery we have the following seedlings: rape, tsunga, hybrid covo rugare, spinach, lettuce commander, and green pepper, king onion and beets.

Happy farming and gardening week!

Doreen Mutobaya Badze is a retired nurse and passion-driven gardener. She can be reached on Cell: 0779 730 880 or 16 Metcalf Road, Greendale, Harare. Email: dbadze4@gmail.com or Facebook page: Badze Garden Nursery

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