Local Leaders | In the Patch: Vege man says sow now for a patch full of goodness

I prefer to grow most of my veggies from seed. It does require a little more time and planning, but provides better variety and quality, at a fraction of the cost of seedlings. It's also the best way to learn what different seedlings look like as thy emerge. Now is a good time to direct sow carrots, coriander, beetroot, buk choy, radish, parsnips, peas, turnips, spring onion and lettuce varieties. Cucumbers, dwarf and climbing bean can also be sown, but may need to be replaced if we get a late heavy frost.

These tomato seedlings will grow to over two metres tall in coming months given the opportunity.

These tomato seedlings will grow to over two metres tall in coming months given the opportunity.

In pots, either indoors or undercover, I've been sowing basil, capsicums, eggplants, tomatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins, squash, rockmelon and watermelon. It's not too late to start any or all of these, which can be planted out in November, when the risk of big frosts has generally passed.

If you're planting out seedlings you've grown or purchased, be aware that transplant shock can really set back a plant. You can take a few simple steps to minimise this risk. "Harden off" seedlings by gradually introducing them to outdoor conditions over several days. Start with a few hours of morning sun and increase by an hour or two each day, keeping well watered. Before planting out, let your seedling trays stand in some shallow water for 10 mins. Immediately after planting, be sure to thoroughly, but gently, water in, and daily for the first week. Adding a little worm juice or seasol to your watering can is also a good idea.

Patience with winter crops is paying dividends at the moment, with lots of greens, herbs, brassicas and root crops on offer. From the patch we're harvesting beetroot, broccoli, buk choy, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, celtuce, celery, chives, coriander, kale, mixed lettuce, parsley, parsnips, radish, rocket, spinach, spring onions, swiss chard.

Happy sowing and growing!

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