Horticulture certificate 2 students planting vegetables

Time to get those winter beds in shape!

Get your veggie beds ready for spring in Tasmania.

In Autumn 2014 our Horticulture Certificate 2 students had the chance to spend a day preparing the Royal Botanical Gardens Potager (or kitchen garden) for winter.   The students are based at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart Tasmania, so they are exposed to all aspects of horticulture, including getting the inside tips on growing the best vegies at home!

Instructor Rainer Oberle digging over the first of the beds in the Poteger Garden.

Instructor Rainer Oberle digging over the first of the beds in the Poteger Garden.

The Potegar Garden is made up of many small beds set out in a geometric pattern in the traditional style of European kitchen gardens. Each small bed grows a variety of seasonal vegetables in spring and summer but autumn and winter are slower growing periods and a perfect time for some maintenance and renovation.

The methodology used in the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is easily transferrable to the home vegetable patch and following these easy steps will ensure your beds are ready and waiting for your spring plantings!

The students were assigned beds to weed, dig over, mulch and plant out with alternating rows of nitrogen fixing green manure crops. Broad Beans, Peas and Mizuna were chosen. The Mizuna (Japanese Mustard) was planted as a natural control for nematodes, which can build up to detrimental levels in the soil. Each bed was tilled and the weeds and invasive tree roots removed. Then 2 or 3 alternate layers of compost and decaying straw were added with a handful of Dolomite per square meter. This adds some magnesium to the soil and acts as a pH buffer.

Horticulture Certificate 2 students add compost to the bed before planting out.

Horticulture Certificate 2 students add compost to the bed before planting out.

The students then overlayed the beds with water-soaked hay. This acts as a mulch and protects the germinating seedlings from wind and frost. They marked out and planted alternate rows of the three crops and placed rolled hay “sausages” around the bed edges and between rows.

The beds are marked out for planting with the three types of seed.

The beds are marked out for planting with the three types of seed.

Once the green manure crops are fully grown, they will be cut off and laid back over the beds to break down naturally. The soil wont be dug over, instead, new seed and seedlings sown and planted directly into the “stubble”.   This will ensure a rich fertile bed for spring and lots of nice healthy vegetables for the students to enjoy! Send us some pictures of your winter beds. Like us on Facebook and follow our feed on Instagram by tagging your pics with #globalhort

Six weeks on and the beds are looking good!

Six weeks on and the beds are looking good!