Are you feeling the autumn blues? Start a winter vegetable garden and you’ll be able to enjoy an abundance of greens even in the darkest times of the year. Here are a few of the tasty greens that you can harvest from a winter vegetable garden.
- Brussel sprouts
If you give them plenty of room and a long period of growth, brussel sprouts offer tasty harvests in winter, when cold weather helps to sweeten their flavour.
Kale is probably the easiest green leaf to grow for winter harvest and is one of the hardiest. There is a good choice of varieties with a range of colours and leaf shapes, and there are also flat-leaved kales, which taste sweet in salad.
3.Purple sprouting broccoli
Purple sprouting broccoli is a vigorous plant which, as with many brassicas, can make new leaves and shoots at relatively low temperatures. As long as plants have had enough time to grow to a good size, and have survived any extreme frosts and grazing by pigeons, they can use their established roots and leaves to make delicious new shoots of broccoli in any mild winter weather. Timing of broccoli growth depends on variety.
Cabbage can cover a long season according to the variety you grow – do make sure you buy seed or plants of varieties that heart up (more or less) at the time you hope to be eating them – for instance, ‘January King’ (although this one may mature any time between November and February). Savoy cabbages are the hardiest of all, and late varieties of savoy will heart up from February to early April at a time when greens are extremely precious.
Swede grows little in winter but is extremely frost hardy and can safely be left in the soil for harvesting when needed. Sometimes my swedes have all their leaves eaten by pigeons yet still sit proudly and in good condition until early April. Swede has a more solid and sweet flesh than its cousin the turnip, which is less frost hardy and best stored indoors.
Parsnip is the king of winter roots, much denser, sweeter, hardier and stronger tasting than potatoes. Parsnips sit happily in the soil all winter, ready for harvesting when needed at any point until about late April, when new growth takes goodness out of their roots.
Leeks are not all capable of surviving hard frost, so be sure to choose a variety such as ‘Bandit’ or ‘Atlanta’ if you want harvests in a cold winter. Leeks can put on a lot of new growth in March and up to the end of April, so are a most welcome addition to the small group of hungry gap vegetables.
To learn more about starting you own winter vegetable garden, have a look at Charles Dowding’s How to Grow Winter Vegetables
Image credits: Pixabay- apart from image 5 which was created by Charles Dowding.