Winter Veg

Sam_Coppard
Published on October 20th 2019
38
A harvest of winter squashes
By September, it's clear that summer's on the way out and autumn is rapidly approaching. Gardens and veg patches are winding down for the colder months.
By October, the leaves are turning orange and it feels like the first frosts must be on their way. Garden season is over.
But with the right planning, a vegetable patch can still be productive in October, November and beyond. There are so many winter vegetables you can harvest in the cold to make delicious warming meals.
You just have to plant the right things at the right times.
Winter vegetables including carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, leeks, kale, chard, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and cabbage

Carrots

Most people might sow their carrot seeds in spring, but you can jump way ahead with autumn-sowing carrot varieties like 'Nantes Frubund'. You can sow these in the middle of autumn (or even later in mild years) and, like most carrots, they'll be ready to harvest in 12-16 weeks.
If you do this now, you could be eating homegrown carrots as early as January or February. Perfect for roasting!

Brussels sprouts

Whether you like them or not, there's a reason Brussels sprouts are a Christmas classic.
If you've ever thought that supermarket sprouts are a bit disappointing, you need to try growing your own before you dismiss them entirely. Homegrown Brussels sprouts taste much better, and they only improve after the first frost.
Sow Brussels sprouts in March or April, and you'll be rewarded with a crop that can last through winter.

Cauliflower

Want something a little bit more exciting than your standard cream-coloured cauliflower? Maybe green, yellow or even purple? You won't find these in the shops, so you'll have to grow it yourself!
Cauliflowers are a bit more demanding than lots of other winter vegetables, whichever variety you grow. They need space (winter varieties should be planted at least 75cm apart), a lot of water and deep, fertile soil to thrive.
Romanesco is an excellent choice if you want to harvest in November or December, just in time to put a real statement vegetable on the Christmas table.

Spinach

Winter spinach cultivars need a little more sun than their summery cousins, and you'll want to give them a little protection from October onwards.
There aren't too many delicate salad leaves you can harvest in winter, and spinach is a convenient crop if you're tight on space. You can plant winter spinach in August or September when some of your other crops are done for the year, so you don't have to sacrifice any extra valuable growing room.

Leeks

Leeks might just be the perfect winter vegetable. They're hardy enough to cope with more snow than most Brits will ever see in their gardens, they never need much looking after, and they'll provide an excellent crop from autumn to spring.
And they're delicious. Obviously.
Reduce the risk of rust, a minor fungal disease, by planting your leeks far enough apart to allow good air circulation. Or grow a rust-resistant variety if you're tight on space.

Kale

This is the leafy green of choice for every stereotypical millennial food and health blogger, and undisputedly the coolest vegetable of all time.
Not only is kale a superfood, but it will also happily grow in a lightly shaded spot.
You can harvest kale from October onwards. After you've harvested the main crown, the plant will form side shoots, providing fresh leaves for picking from February through to spring.

Chard

If spinach is too dull or too much of a pain to grow, Swiss chard might be just what you're looking for. Chard is more attractive, it can be continually harvested for months, and it's less likely to go to seed in a dry spell.
Young, tender leaves are great in salads, and larger leaves are perfect for a stir fry. Even the colourful stalks are delicious when cooked.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Nobody's ever looked at a Jerusalem artichoke and thought it was pretty. But, these are actually the tubers of an attractive type of sunflower native to North America.
Jerusalem artichokes have had an odd history, dotted with huge fluctuations in popularity. During lean years, they've been used as animal feed and as emergency rations, but at other times they've been regarded as a rare delicacy for the queen.
It's probably safe to say that Jerusalem artichokes aren't for everyone. But the plants work well as a screen or a windbreak, and they can be used to make various tasty winter dishes.

Parsnips

The ultimate root vegetable. Parsnips are easy to grow, don't need any special care or attention, and can be left in the ground until it's feasting time.
While they might taste great in soups and stews, we all know that parsnips are at their best when roasted. Preferably with honey. They make even the most miserable winter days bearable.
Man, I love parsnips.

Cabbage

With some careful planning, you could harvest cabbage almost 365 days per year. You'd have to really love cabbage, but it is possible.
For harvesting in winter, you'll need to sow the seeds in April or May and transplant them to their final growing positions a couple of months later. But you shouldn't grow them in the same place two years in a row.
And who knows, you might grow the god of all cabbages and topple the current cabbage world record of 62kg!
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