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Gardening with James Hilyard: It’s time to plant winter vegetables

James Hilyard is Ipswich City Council’s Infrastructure and Environment Department, City Maintenance manager.

James is a horticulturalist, arborist and holds a master’s degree in sustainability.

In this month’s column, James shares his tips on which vegetables to plant this month.

Winter is a great time to grow a lot of vegetables in Ipswich.

We don’t get the intense heat and dry windy conditions that we battle with in summer.

Frosts are generally not too severe and what we call a cold day here is going to make a southerner envious.

We can still grow most summer vegetables with a bit of care and cover to protect from the worst of the frosts.

So, here’s a list of winter jobs to keep you busy this month…


Time to renovate and replant your vege patch.

  • Dig in some compost and turn your beds over.
  • Rake back any mulch or straw and let the winter sun warm the soil.
  • Add some eggshells to the soil and dig them in if you have been collecting them, as this will add calcium and other trace elements.


Turn over your compost.

  • Turn it over and get all the material on the outside of the heap to the bottom of the pile.
  • Turning it over activates and aerates the compost. This makes it break down faster and stops it from getting smelly.
  • Keep it moist not too wet for best results.
  • Use a plant tonic like seaweed extract for your trees and shrubs. Seaweed extracts help strengthen the plants and help the ward off pests, diseases and fortifies the plants against winter cold. It’s like taking vitamins or a flu shot for trees.
  • Dead head your roses or other flowering plants but don’t prune back too hard at this stage.
  • Back off on your fertiliser program. Now is not the time to fertilise your trees or shrubs. We don’t want to encourage new growth as this will be susceptible to burn if a frost comes along.
  • Lift the height on your mower, summer grass species will slow right down now as the soil temperature drops so lift your mower so you can maintain good grass cover. One last light fertilise will keep couch grass growing for another month or two. As the grass growth thankfully slows down, it’s time to plan your winter maintenance regime. 
  • Back off on watering. No need to water established plants at this time of year. If a plant is wilting it could be ‘wet feet’ rather than drying out. If in doubt scratch around the plant to check the moisture levels in the soil.
  • Plant summer and winter vegetables. Just make sure you use some sturdy bamboo or timber stakes if you are planting tomatoes as you may need to cover them with hessian to protect them from the frosts later in the year.

Mulching and planting is a good excuse to get down to your local nursery to see what is new.

James’ favourite winter vegetables to plant this month include:


Silver beet


Radishes (from seed)


Onion family






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