Introduction to winter vegetables
There are so many winter vegetables you can grow to continue the harvests. I find it amazing how many people shut down their gardens after summer. We all spend huge amounts of times planning for harvests through Spring, Summer and Fall but totally forget about winter.
There are many benefits for growing through winter too, which I will go into later in the blog. But the sheer fact you can continue to bring home fresh nutrient-dense produce right from your garden is amazing. Imagine picking your Christmas or Holiday dinner from the garden that very morning.
Growing winter vegetables also means that you are still visiting the garden in the coldest months. It allows you to see if any maintenance is required in the garden and take action before the damage is compounded.
What are winter vegetables?
Winter vegetables are those plants that are frost hardy. They grow slowly when cold and require fewer light levels than plants typically grown through Spring and Summer. Therefore, as gardeners, we are able to continue to bring home produce no matter the time of year.
These plants do not mind cold weather. In fact, some of them even do better when a frost has hit them, but timing is of the utmost importance when planning your winter garden. I aim to provide you with enough information here to get you started in growing winter vegetables at home.
Winter vegetable garden
Typically, the winter vegetable garden can be quite bleak empty places with no real interest. Too many gardeners will garden through spring, summer and wind down during fall after the harvests. But with a little planning, you can not only keep this space productive, but you can also keep interested and life in the garden.
This does take some planning and forward-thinking as you need to allow time for things to establish before the coldest months set in. As discussed earlier, Light levels drop considerably. Although we can continue to get enough heat to keep plants alive light levels play an important part in the growth.
Planning your winter vegetable garden
It is amazing to think that you need to be considering your winter vegetable garden as far back as June or July. This allows us to plan out what vegetables we wish to grow. What their growing timescales will be. Where in the garden they will be planted?
Therefore, early consideration must be given. It all starts with the fall harvests. Knowing when vegetables from the summer will be harvested will mean we will know exactly what space can be utilized for winter vegetables.
It might shock you to think that you may even have to consider winter as far back as March if you want to grow the staple foods of winter. These crops will require a long growing season in order to get to the size for winter. They can then be harvested and stored in a cold store. Or can in order to feed you throughout the colder months of winter.
What winter vegetables can I grow?
Winter vegetable list to sow in spring.
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- Brussels sprouts
Although you may have already planned for these crops, they do makeup part of the winter food cupboard staples. It is important to give them consideration early on. By ensuring you consider winter vegetables to plant. You make they are sown in time so you can guarantee you have the space available later. Making it possible for additional winter vegetables.
Winter vegetable list to sow in early summer
The next list will cover vegetables to be sown in early summer May until the end of July.
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli
- Winter cabbage (Ball head)
- Winter cabbage (Savoy)
- Winter squash
- Chinese cabbage
These will be crops that mostly will be harvested and stored also. They are relatively quick to grow. Some of which will be required to stay in the ground right through winter. Such as chard and cabbages.
Winter vegetable list for last sowings
This next list is for winter vegetables that will be the last sowings of the year. They need to be sown in August and September in order to have enough growth before the light and heat levels drop to levels too low for growth. If you do not give them the time needed they may not be mature enough to survive the colder months of winter.
These plants will be grown right through winter and into early Spring. They will provide small harvests. Especially if you harvest by just removing the outer leaves, leaving the plant to regrow.
- Spring cabbage
- Leaf beet
- Corn salad
- Salad onion
- Oriental leaves
- Pak Choi
- Broad beans
- Winter onions
All of the above are winter vegetables for planting and it is the very last chance you will have in the year for crops in late winter and early spring. There is nothing like being able to harvest winter vegetables that are in season. Check out my video here on YouTube where I harvested everything for our Christmas dinner.
Herbs to grow in winter
Along with the vegetables we can grow through winter. There are numerous herbs that be added to the list. These will help brighten up winter salads and other dishes. They can be used in stews, soups or even for roasting.
- Land cress
When to plant winter Vegetables?
Over the last few paragraphs, I have covered various planting times. This will vary on a number of factors. Where you are in the world. What zone you garden in just to name a few. It is important to consider these when considering when to plant.
Following the planting guidelines will get you roughly where you want to be. But above I gave a very basic quarterly breakdown. Obviously, if you live on the other side of the world. For example, Australia then this is all turned on its head and is reversed.
How to grow winter vegetables?
Knowing what winter vegetables, we can grow, and knowing when to grow is the first thing we had to figure out. Next, we need to consider how to grow winter vegetables. Growing vegetables for winter, especially when space is already occupied means we will have to sow them indoors.
Growing winter vegetables indoors.
A polytunnel or greenhouse will make this job much easier. As our outdoor space is already taken, we will need to sow into trays, modules and pots in order to grow them on for when space is available to plant out.
Sowing seed is the exact same way as in Spring, only that it germinates much quicker at the back end of summer. Plants will grow quickly and will need to be moved on into sequentially sized pots until outside space becomes available.
Preparing the ground for winter vegetables
When it is time to plant out the ground should be cleared of any weeds and a layer of homemade compost added. This will help add all the feed that is required for the plants to thrive for winter. Do not dig this ground or you will destroy all the beneficial soil life.
If you would like to know more about soil check out the live stream below on YouTube. Where I explain about all the different soil types. How to test for nutrients and PH and even how to adjust the PH of the soil to best suit your vegetables.
Build Soil Quality
Building the soil quality in your garden is probably one of the most important things you can do for your plants and your health. It will make your life as a gardener much easier, The plants are stronger and able to defend against predators and pests.
Storing Winter Vegetables
As we have spoken about throughout the blog. We will be growing vegetables all year to store for winter. Charles Dowding says. “Vegetables keep much better when they are kept in a cool environment and slightly damp”. This prevents them from dehydrating and turning bad.
Vegetables will start to regrow if the temps climb above 10℃ or 50℉ consistently for a few weeks. To preserve your vegetables, it is important to prevent this rise in temperature
There are exemptions to this rule though. Onions Garlic and Squash produce dry skin, this protects the vegetable. Keeping these damps would cause them to rot. Being cold is fine. In order to store these, you will want to leave them out in a cool dry place for a week or two to start the curing process. Check out this YouTube video here on how to cure and store onions.
Where to store the vegetables?
For the vegetables that need cool and damp. An outside shed or garage is ideal. The humidity is high enough, and it gets cool but usually frost-free. You can store root veg in paper sacks, potatoes in hessian sacks or in trays. For a more detailed explanation then check out this video. Greens such as cabbage and kale can be hung up or even kept in plastic bags. Onions and garlic can be plaited or braided and hung up. To learn how to do this, Check out this YouTube video.
I have hopefully given you a way forward with planning, planting, harvesting and storing winter vegetables. If you found this blog interesting and helpful, please share it and consider subscribing to the blog. You can do this in the blog subscription in the right hand column in this blog.
I hope you are able to grow and store winter vegetables for you and your family. If you are new to gardening. May I suggest you read this blog post next. 60 Top Gardening Tips For New Gardeners. Thanks for viewing and remember folks You Reap What You Sow.