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As I mentioned earlier, I have never had much of a chance to grow a winter garden before so, this winter, I am going all out to see just what we can achieve on our little LSB in the coming cold months.
I already have two different varieties of Silverbeet in different stages. If I can't grow Silverbeet in a winter garden, there won't be much hope for me! But never fear, they are the hardiest of plants that anyone can grow all year round. I also have some baby mesclun leaves but am considering growing a different variety. I have my beans protected with frost cloth but as they are very frost tender I don't hold out much hope of them lasting the winter. I barely managed to save my Brassicas from being demolished by those nasty green caterpillars. We had a week of heavy rain which prevented me from checking them earlier but they are recovering well. I'm also glad to say my Potatoes are actually growing! I planned to leave them alone over the winter but I will give them a top up of compost soon to help them along.

On my kitchen windowsill, I have a variety of Brassicas, Asian Greens, Sunflower sprouts, Stevia (sugar herb) and Spinach. In my hot water cupboard I have seed trays sprouting Onions, Leeks, Cress & more Silverbeet. We definitely won't be lacking in dark leafy greens this season!

The Sunflower sprouts and Asian Greens are being grown in recycled plastic cartons. If you ever end up with extra plastic containers, don't throw them in the rubbish, recycle them as seedling planters. I have a few plastic milk bottles saved for this reason. You can also save the top half of the bottles, poke a few holes in the lid and use it as a sprinkler for your little seedlings. I am also thinking of trying to make a little hanging garden for the children using plastic bottles. 

If you are worried about reusing plastic bottles, read this article first which explains the difference between the different grades of plastic and which are safe to reuse and which can be very harmful. The plastic milk bottle containers I use are grade #2 which is safe to use. 

Another idea for growing seedlings that need transplanting, is to start them off in toilet paper cardboard inners. The little cardboard rolls are the perfect size for seedlings and you don't need to remove the plants for transplanting, just pop them into the garden, cardboard roll and all. The cardboard will break down as the plant grows. If you are wondering how to store the cardboard rolls with the plants in them, stand them up in an ice cream container or similar. This will prevent them from falling over. Just be careful not to water too much and allow the cardboard to dry before watering again so that it doesn't fall apart on you.

The Asian Greens were saved from our raised garden where they were being eaten alive by bugs and along with the receding sunlight, were not doing too well. Once they have had a chance to recover I will be moving them to our main garden which gets all of the sunlight.

And, while I have grown Sunflowers before, this is the first time I am going to try using them while still little sprouts. They are very vigorous little things, sometimes you can actually see them pushing up out of the dirt and the result is piles of dirt landing all over my kitchen bench. At first I couldn't figure out where all the dirt was coming from but it's a sure sign that they are growing well! Apparently it is best to eat them while they still only have the first set of leaves. I planted quite a few seeds in the container so the idea is to use the sprouts as they grow. It's not like wheat grass unfortunately, where you can keep cutting and it keeps growing. And yes, I am going to be adding some wheat grass to my windowsill collection soon - if there's any space left!

I have also come across a natural solution to warding off harmful garden pests, Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade. I have just purchased a bag as a natural wormer/delouser for my chickens and have been uncovering more helpful info regarding its multiple uses. I will be using it in my garden to ward off pests but one thing to remember is that it kills beneficial insects as well as harmful ones so it is best not to use it while plants are flowering and fruiting as you may end up killing Bees, Ladybugs, Praying Mantis etc., in the process.

My Stevia Plants (in the blue pots) are a new addition that I have been wanting to grow for a long time. They are used as a natural sweetener and one tablespoon of dried powdered leaves is equivalent to one cup of sugar! Brilliant! I can't wait to experiment using the leaves in different recipes :-)

 


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