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There can’t be many things more satisfying in the world of gardening than eating your own produce. Our useful guide to growing winter vegetables explains how you can develop delicious food in your own back yard.
Growing winter vegetables
Growing vegetables for the winter can be a great way of making use of space in the garden, and it gives you a regular supply of fresh food to keep you healthy through the cold months. Whether you grow vegetables in your garden or in a greenhouse, there are some general rules that you should follow to get the most from your crop.
Growing vegetables in winter
Finding a suitable space
The first thing you need to work out is what vegetables you have room for and how you are going to use this room. You need an open, cultivated site that has free-draining soil. If you don’t have access to enough space then you can often start growing some crops in the greenhouse or containers. Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts will take up lots of space for a long period of the winter, and you may find that other options are more efficient.
Vegetables to grow in winter
What to grow and when to sow
Some of the most popular options include broccoli, cabbages, parsnips and leeks, all of which are pretty hardy vegetables that will stand through winter. Carrots, onions and turnips can also be easy to grow if you store them correctly.
Those winter vegetables mentioned above need to be planted in late spring or early summer, and they will be ready for harvesting whenever you need them through the winter. Sow leafy crops such as chard, chicory and parsley in early summer, ready to be harvested in autumn.
What vegetables to grow in winter
All in the planning
As with so much of gardening, the key to ensuring that your vegetables arrive in winter is to plan ahead. Here’s one strategy that could be worth trying:
- Sow leeks into a seedbed outside or into seed trays or pots indoors
- Sow parsnips into the ground
- Sow salad plants into the ground in summer in watered, shallow drills
- Throughout the summer, transplant seedlings into ground that has been cleared by early crops – such as potatoes or broad beans
- Water the whole area regularly
- Keep rows clear of weeds by hoeing regularly
- Protect salads and other leafy plants from the frost with covers
This set-up will deliver leeks, parsnips and salad across the winter, giving you plenty of tasty treats for roast dinners, soups and stews.
Problems to look out for
As with any type of growing, problems can occur. As you tend to your vegetables, be on the lookout for the following issues:
- Caterpillars attacking your cabbages
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbages clubrooting
- Flea beetles on salad leaves
- Slugs and snails on seedlings and leafy crops
- Splitting after heavy rain
- Cabbage whiteflies