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5 Joburg Frost Loving Vegetables

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

A Johannesburg gardener’s worst enemy is here – FROST! But some strange and wonderful vegetables are frost loving – they NEED frost in order to activate part of their life cycle! Here are 5 of which you can plant in your vegetable garden in winter:

1. Peas Sugar Snap (climber)

Peas are a protein-rich (25%) legume which requires cold and dry climates. In fact, a longer cold spell helps in increasing yield. It prefers to be planted in well-drained soils, rich in organic matter which supplies nutrients at a gentle rate. Pea have a low water requirement, but don’t let the soil dry out because there’s no coming back (you can achieve this tricky balance by ensuring that the soil is not exposed to the sun).

GARDEN HINT: Provide strong support for 2m vines.

  • Temperature: Requires cold and dry climate. The longer cold spell helps in increasing yield.

  • Position: Full sun

  • Water: low requirement, 2-3 times per week

  • Soil: Peas can be grown on all types of soils but it prefers well-drained sandy loam soils, high organic content

  • Spacing: 5cm x 60 cm

  • Days to harvest: 60-120 days

2. Parsnip - White Gem

Parsnips were originally used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for medicinal and food purposes, but now have become part of normal diet. The optimum temperature for growing Parsnips is 16°C to 20°C, which is a typical Joburg winter day. Don’t worry about the dips in temperature in the evening and mornings because Parsnips are frost tolerant. Unlike people, Parsnip’s sweetness improves by cold weather and frost.

  • Temperature: cold loving (16 - 20°C) , frost tolerant

  • Position: Full sun

  • Water: Roots should not be allowed to dry out. 25 mm to 40 mm should be provided at 7 to 10-day intervals in the early to mid morning

  • Soil: Deep and sandy soils. 35 - 50 cm

  • Spacing: 5cm x 30 cm

  • Days to harvest: 150 - 180 days

3. Cabbage - Baby Red Primero

Cabbage was cultivated by the Greeks as early as 600 BC and was believed to be a gift from the gods (it was used to treat hangovers so it's easy to see why). It grows in relatively cool and humid climates, and can survive -3°C without damage, but not for too long, so it is best to plant it near a pond on the eastern side of the house. The best thing about Cabbage it is that it will be ready for harvest in only 2 months.

Ideal for small spaces and containers

  • Temperature: cold loving (18 - 20°C) , frost tolerant

  • Position: Full sun

  • Water: Intervals of 10 to 12 days in heavy soils or eight days in light soils

  • Soil: Can be grown on a wide range of soils but it thrives on well can be grown on a wide range of soils but it thrives on well drained, moisture-retentive loamy soils well supplied with organic matter

  • Spacing: 25cm x 25 cm

  • Days to harvest: 55 - 65 days

4. Turnip - Early Purple Top Globe

Turnip - has been cultivated in Eastern Europe and Siberia for over 4000 years, and if it can survive Siberia, it can survive Joburg! Turnip loves cold weather so much that its most vigorous root growth occurs between 4.4 °C to 15 °C. A well-drained, loose soil is needed to get the perfect Turnip.

  • Temperature: The most vigorous root growth takes place during the periods of low temperature (4,4 to 15 °C) in the fall. Frost tolerant

  • Position: Full sun

  • Water: They need ample water during dry weather

  • Soil: Can grow on all types of soils but does well on deep rich loamy soils.

  • Spacing: 10cm x 10 cm

  • Days to harvest: 100 - 120

5. Carrot - Chantenay Karoo

Carrot is believed to have originated in Afghanistan, which also has the most diversity of carrot varieties. It is a cool weather crop with its optimum temperature growth range between 15 to 20 °C. It will also grow at temperatures below 10 °C, but you should expect longer, more slender and paler roots. Carrots are biennial, meaning that they produce the fat root in the first year, and seeds from flowers in the second year.

  • Temperature: The carrot is a cool weather crop and it also does well in warm climates. The optimum temperature for growth is between 15 to 20 °C. Temperatures below 10 °C cause longer, more slender and paler roots.

  • Position: Full sun

  • Water: Carrots require a steady supply of moisture and it must be maintained at above 50 % of available moisture throughout growth. Generally, carrots require approximately 25 mm of water per week but under warm, dry conditions 50 mm will be required.

  • Soil: Deep, loose, well-drained sandy to loamy soils, not subject to capping. with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 are ideal for carrot production

  • Spacing: 5cm x 30 cm

  • Days to harvest: 90- 130

There are many more vegetables which you could grow in Johannesburg during winter, but these are the top 5 best-bets.

Don’t forget that although these vegetables love cold, they require slightly warmer temperatures in order to germinate, so be sure to seed them indoors. Most of these don’t like to be transplanted so it is best to find a way to avoid transplant shock. Additionally, remember that late-sown crops are more vulnerable to Aphids so be sure to keep the soil rich in organic matter and attract as much biology as possible.

Happy growing!

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