With summer not even on the horizon, it’s time to turn our attention to what foods we’d like to be sitting down and eating for our Christmas Day dinner and throughout the Winter months. It’s time to start growing vegetables for winter.
Due to the lack of daylight and warmth crops will naturally grow slower than in the high of Summer. We take advantage of the warmer summer months to get plants established before the turning point of the Autumn Equinox. Here we have put together a top 15 list of what you can sow now so you won’t go hungry this winter.
Growing Vegetables For Winter: Top 15
1. Brussels Sprouts
Love them or hate them, Christmas wouldn’t be the same within the little fellas on the plate.
2. Flower Sprouts
Flower Sprouts, also known as Petit Posy, is a cross between brussels sprouts and kale. Grow it in the same way as brussels sprouts but you don’t get the sulphur-y taste as sprouts. People who we’ve cooked them for end up loving them and including them in the kitchen garden the following season. Flower Sprouts can be purchased in supermarkets so maybe try some first but remember, growing your own will give a far superior taste.
Sow in June for a decent size harvest and in July if you are after smaller globes. These can be sown directly in the open ground but it’s also possible to sow indoors using module trays.
4. Leaf Beet / Swiss Chard
A favourite of the victorian gardeners and very popular during the second world war in Britain. It comes in various colours and is not out of place in the flower garden with its bright yellow and red stems, it will certainly brighten up any garden during winter. The leaves can be cooked and used in a similar way to spinach.
5. Savoy Cabbage
Seeing the winter frost resting across a savoy cabbage is a wonderful sight and for us, there is no better cabbage. Although they can withstand the winter frosts, we cover them for added protection.
Yes, it’s possible to harvest carrots during winter. We’ve often seen gardeners on allotments harvesting their carrots through the snow and on one occasion, using a pick-axe, to get them out of the heavy frozen soil. The most successful carrot is the variety Eskimo which is hailed as ‘The most frost-tolerant variety bred so far‘.
Sow the seed in early March indoors on a heated propagator is best. Don’t cover the seed. Later in the year it’s best to buy plants especially if you can’t provide early heat. Transplant seedlings in May to the open ground. Harvest from October to March.
8. Winter Squash
During April sow squash indoors and transplant once the threat of frost has past. Give them plenty of space to grow and you will be rewarded with a crop that will store throughout the winter.
9. Jerusalem Artichokes
If you don’t harvest every single inch of the Jerusalem Artichoke, it will return year-after-year. Find a spot in the garden where it can live for many years. Plant in late winter (February) and harvest during the following winter from November to February. They grow very tall, around 2m, so can be used to shelter other crops from high winds. Can be boiled, baked, fried or as soups and has a nutty flavour.
10. Kale / Borecole
Sow May until July and harvest the leaves from November to April. The variety Redbor looks stunning in the garden during winter with its vivid red leaves.
Sow during April either indoors or outside. Once they grow to the size of a pencil, plant them outside. Once the cropping season begins in November, they can be left to stand in the open ground until the end of March.
Most people would think of lettuce as a summer salad crop, but it’s possible to harvest lettuce in the depths of winter, if you grow the right variety. Sow during late August/early September using the variety Winter Density. Harvesting is slightly different compared to the summer crops. Picks a few of the outer leaves from each plant, this helps the lettuce to continue growing.
Sow during February/March using fresh seed. The life expectancy of parsnip is only one year so always obtain new seed. Sow directly into the soil as the don’t take kindly to being transplanted. Harvest November to March.
14. Swedes / Rutabagas
Sow indoors during June. Like leeks, swedes/rutabagas can be left in the ground and harvest as-and-when needed from November to February.
15. Winter Radish / Turnip
August is best for sowing a winter harvest. A good variety is Atlantic F1. Sow directly into the soil and harvest in spring.