Get into the garden this weekend to plant some rhubarb or carrots - once you've finished the weeding.
In the garden: rhubarb, carrots and weeding
Jewels in the crowns
The best and quickest way to get rhubarb growing in your garden is to plant out what is commonly referred to as crowns. They are in your nurseries from late autumn through winter and upon closer examination, one will see small “eyes”. These are new shoots awaiting spring, so be careful to only buy firm, undamaged crowns with eyes intact. It’s always a good idea to have a separate bed for rhubarb, well-drained facing east or north-east avoiding the intense summer sun. Dig over the ground adding manure or organic matter. These crowns will grow, produce and spread in the plot for many years – more than 20 for some gardeners. Feed and water regularly for smashing crops.
Plant some carrots
This mainstay root vegetable is one of the easiest to grow in your garden, do not be afraid. It’s nutritious cooked or raw, and so versatile, it’s a perfect winter plant. Ideal family crop for children to get involved with and chooks will love the green tops. There are several varieties to suit particular seasons, and heirloom varieties such as Purple Dragon and Belgian White.
How to grow:
Carrots need fully tilled soil, with no rocks present and no fertiliser. Best grown from seed, by letting the seed germinate to about five centimetres high, then cull the weak seedlings and plant out the strong. They will grow quickly once in well-drained soil, but keep watch for weeds that love to hang around. As the seedlings settle in ground or pot, give a light feed with fertiliser.
When to harvest:
Baby carrots can be picked after six weeks, or wait longer until 10 weeks or more for a larger one. Just like beetroot, you can scratch around the tops to check the size.
Get the weeding in hand
Winter equals weeds in my garden, but I have come to enjoy winter and early spring weeding. The ground is damp and soft, and most weeds are easily removed by a gloved hand – a kneeling pad also helps! If hand weeding is not for you then mowing or slashing is good for large areas, and there are also natural methods. Two easy ways are using hot water or steam directly into the weed centre, also vinegar is sometimes used. There are organic herbicides available though they will not stop the reoccurrence of some difficult weeds. Solarisation is also an option with black plastic spread over the weeds and sealed edges with loam, leave for a month or two and you will have good results. Then there’s the ancient garden hoe; they’re still available and offer great exercise.