Jack Frost helps tend vegie garden
WHILE most of us warm-blooded creatures would rather spend these chilly mornings rugged up in bed or in front of a nice fireplace, there are members of the plant kingdom that thrive on frost.
The early arrival of the winter cold has provided the perfect opportunity for green thumbs across the region to get a head start on their winter vegetable crops and, with the right preparation, they could be enjoying delicious, natural produce within a matter of weeks.
Trevallan Lifestyle Centre owner and QT gardening columnist Chelsea van Rijn said there was no shortage of tasty vegies that were perfectly suited to growing during Ipswich's notoriously cold winters.
In fact, vegetables such as kale - a cross between lettuce and spinach - will actually come up tastier if grown in frost-prone areas.
"It's a case of the colder the better for most winter vegetables," Ms van Rijn said.
"Strawberries thrive on it and, in fact, mine have already started to flower because of this cold run we've had in the last few weeks."
Cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, spinach and silverbeet are all well adapted to winter temperatures.
The key, she said, was to start off with good soil.
Ms van Rijn recommended using lots of organic matter in the soil before planting.
"I prefer organic fertiliser which contains micro and macro nutrients and sulphate of potash," she said.
"It is slower acting than chemical fertiliser but works better on the plants."
Liquid fertiliser can also be used every fortnight to keep the plants healthy.
For this time of year, Ms van Rijn recommended starting out with seedlings rather than seeds.