Whether you cook for one or two or have little room for a big veggie patch, here are some ideal winter mini or dwarf vegetable varieties to grow happily in small spaces with minimal waste.
The new Pohlmans ‘Patio & Pots Range’ is a collection of exciting new compact plants bred for pots on your patio or small garden spaces. Small in plant size but large in flavour with loads of fruit! This new collection in their Gourmet Vegie range makes choosing vegetables for gardening in small spaces easy and rewarding. Look out for ‘Tomato Patio’ or ‘Cucumber Patio’, which can be planted in pots or hanging baskets.
Winter salad greens grow fast, require minimal space, and can be harvested as often as they sprout. Grow popular lettuce varieties of romaine (cos lettuce) and red and green coral. ‘Salanova’ lettuce variety is a multi-cut lettuce, meaning they have a small core that enables all the leaves to be eaten, perfect for regular harvesting.
Many micro-greens are ready to harvest at the micro-size stage a month after planting. Popular in the micro-green range is rocket, baby beetroot leaves, tatsoi, mizuna, endive, watercress, mustard greens, red Russian kale, chervil, etc. Silver beet can be grown in warmer areas of Australia such as tropical and sub-tropical zones during winter. Silver beet grows ideally in soil with a temperature of 10˚C to 30˚C. Although from the same family, Baby Spinach is more tolerant of the cold and can be planted throughout winter. Bok choy is a great super-grower because it can produce a mature harvest in around 30 days. Plant now in all climatic zones.
‘Kandy Krush’ Edible Kale – the world’s first edible ornamental kale. Great garden plant; its leaves are edible and retain their colour when cooking.
Start your winter herb kitchen with perennial thyme, rosemary, sage, chives, parsley and bay.
Leek, spring onions and shallots all are space savers and quick growing. They are all suitable to be planted in all climate zones.
For warmer climates and patios or balconies protected from frost in cooler climates, small varieties of tomatoes such as cherry, will successfully grow and have ruby red globes for you in several weeks. Dwarf beans can be grown at this time under similar conditions.
Peas and snow peas are best grown in cooler seasons. As climbers, support their growth by installing a trellis before planting – a great vegetable for vertical gardens. Liquid feed with potash to boost flower and pod production. Harvest in 9-11 weeks. Pick the pods every day to increase production.
Sometimes it is hard to find single-pot vegetable seedlings, so team up with a keen gardener friend or neighbour to share multi-pack seedling trays. If you grow more than expected seedlings from seed, they will be more than willing to take them off your hands.
Vegetables in pots need to be positioned where it receives 6 hours of full sun per day for better plant growth and flowering.
Explore the flavours of Asian Greens
When the weather cools, the growth of many vegetable crops slows down, making it the perfect time to grow multi-leaved crops like cabbage and those that would otherwise become too leggy or bolt straight to seed. While lettuce and many other garden staples are stalwarts of the winter garden, if you haven’t already, explore the colours and flavours of Asian greens. Fast-growing, highly nutritious and easy to grow, most are part of the Brassica family and all bring something special to the kitchen and your culinary creations.
Mizuna is a great addition to salads, a wonderful garnish on stir fry and its mild flavour, with a hint of pepper and vibrant bright-green colour adds visual appeal to all dishes. Ready to pick in just 6 weeks, Mizuna yields roughly 500g per plant.
Pak choy’s thick, succulent leaves taste best when grown quickly in rich, moist soil, and harvesting in about 8 weeks yields 110g per plant. Try planting or sowing every 3-4 weeks for a continual harvest.
Tatsoi’s both beautiful and delicious. Growing in a stunning rosette pattern with deep-green spoon-shaped leaves that can be harvested individually and eaten young in salads or steamed when older, you can also try Yukina, a larger version of Tatsoi, which is often harvested from the outside, to extend cropping.
Highly versatile, growing Asian greens at home are healthy and cost-effective, and it’s a fun and satisfying way to fill your kitchen with highly nutritious produce from the garden.
If you are short on space, try Cabbage ‘Mini’ or the upright Asian style Cabbage ‘Mini Wombok’ popular in kimchi and noodle salads. Both are fast, easy to grow, and highly versatile additions to the garden and kitchen.