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Winter Garden, it’s Challenges and Overcoming Them!

Winter Garden, it’s Challenges and Overcoming Them!

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” – Janet Kilburn Phillips     

“The perfect garden!”- Maintaining a green spot in the garden is like a jigsaw puzzle, one needs to have a good understanding that every weather is friendly to some crops and hostile to few others. With a sowing and harvesting calendar in place, you will be able to solve this puzzle easily. This planning exercise is what makes growing our own food quite adventurous. Though adventuresome, a gardener is tempted by the freshness, taste, texture of vegetables and fruits. Above all, the joy and satisfaction of savoring his self-grown food. Every season offers the plants and its gardener with new challenges. As we are in winter season, let’s understand the challenges and ways of handling them.

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Though most plants are seasonal, many of them can be grown on terrace garden in a protected/controlled environment. So the first step is to choose the right crop for the prevailing season. Cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, radish, beetroot, broccoli, potatoes, onion, tomato, brinjal, okra, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, capsicum, cucumber, lettuce, and spinach flourish well during winter.

A gardener can notice delayed seed germination and slow plant growth due to the falling temperatures and reduced day length that winter brings; as drop in temperature slows down a plant’s metabolism largely because the enzymes that drive these biochemical reactions don’t work so well in the cold, leading to lower rates of photosynthesis and respiration and hence slow growth.

One should go for sowing organic seeds that are, free from pests and diseases. Seedlings can be raised in a seedling tray filled with a potting mix that is a mixture of cocopeat and compost (1:1). Sowing should be done preferably in the morning hours at around 8:00 to 9:00 am so that after sowing, sunlight for about 5-6 hours can be received. After sowing, it is always better to cover the seedling tray with a polythene sheet to retain warmer temperature compared to the outside environment to ensure uniform seed germination.

Once we get the seedlings, it should be made sure that the winter garden is started with proper-sized and healthy seedlings. A proper potting mix should be well-draining, nutrient rich and with good water holding capacity. This is needed to produce healthy plants that have carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients ratio in balance.

The choice of proper pots/containers is important considering their durability, weight, good drainage (to avoid water logging) and plants to be grown (shallow or deep rooted, the number of plants per pot).

The gardener should make sure to position the pots or the containers in a way that they get sufficient sunlight during winters (minimum 5-6 hours a day continuously) to ensure that plants remain green and healthy.

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Watering is another important aspect as the water requirement by the plants reduces during winter and hence should be done carefully. All pots/containers should have a proper drainage that removes excess water. Smaller plants are more susceptible to over or under watering than the older ones. In winters it may account for watering every alternate day in our weather condition. Also, watering should be done at the plant base not on the leaves as low temperature and humidity increase the chances of disease occurrence and their severity. Plants fed with properly balanced nutrients tend to grow healthy and disease/ pest free, hence adding of compost/vermicompost at regular intervals is very much essential.

Prevention is always better than cure! Hence prevent diseases and pests as the lower temperature favors them by proper pruning of the dried plant parts and taking up organic pest control sprays available from authenticated firms or with the ones prepared at home.

Lastly, there’s no single method of terrace cultivation which is the best. It comes with lots of trial and error experimentations of the enthusiast gardeners. So let’s get started with growing our own organic veggies this winter season.


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