Forward thinking gardeners will be thoroughly enjoying their visual and culinary rewards this month. Gorgeous red cabbage, creamy cauliflower, rosy radish, purple sprouting broccoli, Swiss chard with its crunchy ruby-red, candy pink, sunshine yellow, orange or creamy stalks, along with leafy greens, are at their best right now.
And the good news is that in case you have not been so quick on the draw in planting your winter and spring veggies, you can still catch up.
Sown this month, the following can be nurtured for spring: Cabbages galore, cauliflower, giant red mustard, mustard mizuna, bok choy, winter lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, green onions, radishes, peas, beans, potatoes, turnips and hardy herbs.
These can be grown using a mixture of sweet earth and compost (manure) in the garden or in colorful pots and containers that can be placed indoors where they get adequate winter sunlight. To grow fruit trees and vines a 50/50 mix of good soil and compost is needed and which must be regularly watered.
Fruit lovers can make the most of the season too, as nurseries across Pakistan are full of saplings until February. ldeally, large, open garden spaces are perfect for a selection of the following, provided that only climatically suitable species are chosen: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, pomegranates, mangoes, loquat, sapodilla, guava, coconut, banana, olives, apricots, cherries, kumquat, custard apple, walnut, pecan nut, almond, star fruit and plums.
If garden space is a constraint, dwarf varieties of fruit trees can be planted in large pots and containers. If there is a suitable wall or sturdy arches to train climbers to go up, fruiting vines such as grape, kiwi and passion fruit are additional edible-and colorful- options. Strawberry runners (baby strawberry plants) should also be in nurseries now; strawberries demand rich, well-fed soil, good drainage and plenty of sun.
By Zain Khan