Newbie gardeners might think winter isn’t the time to plant. I’ll admit I fell into that camp too until I discovered that gardening is something you can do all year round. I’m still learning.
Apart from aesthetics, there are so many benefits of planting during winter. Earlier this year at Roots and Toots I wrote about why eating seasonal veg during winter is beneficial. Even better, growing your own means you can have your own supply of nutritious vegetables all year round, on your doorstep.
All the experts agree that seasonal and local produce is much better for your body because the fruit and vegetables have naturally ripened and have been harvested at the right time. Imported veg also costs heaps more at the supermarket.
Before you start with your own winter vegetable patch, make sure you prep your garden first. Garden Design Magazine details the best ways to prepare your garden for winter, from pruning to clearing out dead leaves and making all the necessary repairs. Here are some of the vegetables and plants you can grow in your garden this winter:
Go for hardy vegetables
The Guardian suggests growing a range of robust crops so that even when the weather is bleak, you can expect to have something tasty to harvest. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, kale, leeks, and parsnips are good hardy vegetables that will stand the test of winter. These crops take several months to reach maturity so although it’s too late to plant them now, next year remember to plant them in late spring or early summer. They can survive the frost and can be harvested throughout winter.
Pick of the ‘leafy crops’
You can plant chard, chicory, land cress, and parsley in the early summer for an autumn harvest that will last into winter as long as you cover them. Spinach is also a great option as it’s a hardy winter plant that you can sow during autumn and leave to grow. Make sure you protect it over the winter so you end up with an abundant spring harvest.
Garden.org recommends you plant carrots, beets and radishes during autumn as it’s important to get them in the ground and growing a month before the cold weather begins. One of the best things about growing beets and carrots during the winter and harvesting them in spring is their sweetness – just be sure to harvest the crop before flowers start to grow, otherwise, you might end up with a bitter harvest.
Hardy vines & flowers
Vegetables aren’t the only type of plants you can grow during winter. You can also add some colour to your winter garden through vines and flowers. One vine that’s recommend for the winter is Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), which starts to bloom in the late winter. The best way to take care of, and more importantly showcase, your vines is to have them grow around a garden structure. Plant vines in the late spring so they can quickly cover fences, pergolas, walls, or a sturdy trellis. Pergolas come in many varieties at Screwfix, the height and size will depend on the scale of your garden, the look and feel you want to achieve, the plants you want to grow around it, and all the other garden fixtures you have. Roses are also wonderful pergola plants, as well as honeysuckles, jasmines, and grape vines. Whichever you choose, it will definitely give your garden a splash of personality.
Legumes: Beans and peas
I didn’t realise this but autumn-sown broad beans and peas can be harvested in spring or even earlier. Varieties like the Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia, pea Kelvedon Wonder, or pea meteor. To keep your crops healthy, make sure your soil doesn’t get too wet and waterlogged. You can also increase your harvest length by planting both early and late varieties of peas and beans.
As you can see, winter is not the time to put your tools away. A garden is yearly project, and it can be as beautiful in the colder months as it would during the spring.
I’m very much a fledgling gardener but I’m looking forward to more gardening over the next few weeks. What’s your favourite thing to grow in the autumn?
This week: Last of the globe artichokes. Though we cheated and brought these back fro Italy recently. This recipe is Maltese Stuffed Artichokes. Recipe on the blog!
NB: Money was exchanged for publishing this post.