At the end of both Summer and Autumn I analysed which crops made the best use of space in my garden during that season. Details on the method I use can be found on the Summer Top 5 post. This is my list for winter. There are a couple of things to note here. A large amount of my winter garden is taken up with plants that wont be ready until later in Spring or early summer – namely broad beans, garlic, shallots and onions. As a result there were actually only about 10 plants that I grew, harvested from and recorded the weights etc of those harvests. Of those this is the Top 5:
1. Cavolo Nero – Won with similar scores to the Summer & Autumn winners. For me it is worth growing because it takes up comparatively little space, is difficult to find and I love the look and texture of the leaves so it adds to the appeal of the garden generally. That and that its packed full of nutrients.
2. Parsley – Parsley probably would have won had it not been for the fact that I have so many plants (far more than I need) and so it takes up quite a bit of room. I could have planted about half as many plants and I still would have more than anyone could possibly use.
3. Tamarillo – Like parsley tamarillo made the top 5 in Autumn as well and this is basically because it is really productive, doesn’t take up too much room, and the fruits are generally hard to find unless you grow them yourself (having said that I have seen them in the supermarket quite a bit lately). The kids and I ate our way through about 300 tamarillos this year, they went into lunch boxes, they went into salads but mostly they were just eaten whenever someone whinged “I’m hungry”.
4. Silver beet/Chard – Chard also was in the Autumn Top 5, its highly productive, convenient to have always available and most enjoyable when its fresh. It is also comparatively expensive to buy at the supermarket. At about $4.50 a bunch its easy save a fair bit of money by growing your own in a comparatively small space.
5. Broccoli – Given the large proportion of my garden given over to brassicas at this time of the year I’m glad that it wasn’t just Kale that made the list. The big advantage broccoli and kale have over crops like cauliflower and cabbage is that you get more than one harvest from them. A cauliflower sits in the ground using up about half a square metre, for about 4 months plus to produce one $3.00 head. Broccoli uses about the same space but over the course of the 4 months it will produce upwards of $10 worth of shoots in that time.
So what didn’t make the Top 5: – Cabbages because the crops failed, Cauliflower because they take up so much room for just one harvest, Potatoes because the size of the crops was ridiculously meagre, and Salad Leaves and Radishes purely because their growth wasn’t quick enough to produce enough volume (I do think both are worth growing though). It will be interesting to see the VSR figures for the crops I have in the ground at them moment but have yet to harvest – the broad beans, the garlic, the shallots and the onions, hopefully their figures will justify the space they have taken up all winter.
So which crops do you find perform best for you in winter?
For more Top 5 fun head over to see what appeals to The New Good Life this week.