We haven't had the need to buy vegtables in the last 4 years and this is only made possible with careful planning and regular sowing of annual vegetables.
When we talk about this with people, most say that it must be hard over winter, but winter is actually an easy season to be self-sufficient. The garden is full with winter vegetables (broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, leek) that don't bolt to seed and mature slowly, the shelves are full with preserves (fermented vegetables, cooked tomatoes and zucchini) and the freezer packed with frozen summer vegetables (mainly beans, corn and capsicum). Stored vegetables like pumpkins, yams and potatoes make for fast and easy side dishes.
It's the end of spring and early summer period that troubles me every year. We are flat out sowing and planting vegetables, but they are just not fast enough to provide food for a hungry family of four.
Here are our top tips to get you through this lean period:
1. Get a heat pad and start sowing 6-8 weeks earlier
2. Grow fast growing vegetables that can withstand a late frost with ease like pok choi, chinese cabbage, kale, spinach, silverbeet, daikon, radishes, lettuce, argula, turnip and gai lan
3. Once seedlings are up and start to get their true leaves transplant them into wee pots that can be shifted to sunny areas and hardened off before transplanting into the garden
4. Protect your seedlings with bird netting. You are not the only one hungry, birds will spot those fresh, juicy seedlings or simply scratch around the area that you disturbed, looking for a tasty worm.
We have made a wee video demonstrating how to gently plant spring vegetables into your garden to avoid transplanting shock and get a head start to feed you through the "hungry gap".
The seedlings in this video were sown in the 14th July and came up beautifully on a heat pad in our nursery. They were then transplanted into those wee pots 3 weeks later and hardened off outside a week before transplanting.
Happy spring gardening everyone!
About Cornelia Holten
Cornelia is an herbalist and slow food educator with a passion for simple living, DIY, herbs and self-sufficiency. A certificate in Organic Horticulture, the Soil Food Web, an Apprenticeship in Herbal Medicine and living on a farm in Pigeon Bay equip her with a lot of knowledge and experience with growing food and living a healthy life.
She is teaching workshops on sustainable food systems, whole foods, fermentation, primal diets and organic gardening. A thirst for knowledge and a passion for new scientific studies keep her well informed on those topics.