It may seem a bit of an odd time to be thinking of winter veg when you’re in the middle of your summer harvest – battling with a glut of courgettes and with a freezer full of broad beans – but now really is the time to start thinking about what you want in your vegetable patch in the winter. All year round use is the best way to make the most of your vegetable plot and is often said to be the test of a true gardener.
The following vegetables will either produce crops over the winter or can be planted in the autumn for early spring crops. You are still able to make sowings this year, but some varieties such a Brussels Sprouts and Leeks need to be sown much earlier in the year so we have put them in to help you plan for next year!
Start all your seeds off in a cold frame or greenhouse to plant out a few weeks later or alternatively sow direct onto prepared soil and protect with horticultural fleece. With all of the vegetables below you will need to choose the correct variety suitable for autumn sowing.
Still time to Sow
Broad Beans – Sow winter varieties in late October/November to produce pods in the early spring. That way you will get them at least a month before the spring sown varieties.
Cauliflowers – Choose an autumn or winter variety. Sow in Sept-Oct and overwinter in a coldframe.
Cabbage – Sow July to August to crop in Spring. They are all very hardy and hold up well to the frost.
Onions, Shallots – Plant out as sets in the autumn for harvesting the following July. Extremely easy to grow, just choose well drained spot where the soil is reasonable good. Alternatively sow Spring Onion seed in August/September for pulling in March-May.
Leaf Salad – Grow outdoors until October.
Peas – Sow October/November under cloches for cropping in late May. Garlic – Very easy to grow. Just plant the individual cloves just under the surface from early November to late December. Lift and dry the fully mature plants in July.
Just missed the best sowing time – still time to put in young plants
Kales – One of the most reliable and nutritious winter vegetables, it can withstand adverse weather conditions to yield a good crop throughout the winter. Normally grown from a July sowing to pick from late autumn through to spring.
Sprouting Broccoli – Not to be mistaken for the large headed Calabrese, sprouting broccoli produces many shoots with delicious small heads. They are very good at withstanding cold weather and take full advantage of any warmer air the winter brings. Sow April to May for harvesting in March and April.
Brussels sprouts – Can withstand harsh winters, in fact they are supposed to taste better if they have had the frost on them! Sow March/April for cropping from October onwards.
Leeks – Sow March/April outdoors for use from October to April.
Top Tips for over-wintering veg
- Help them to resist wind rock by staking or piling up earth around the base to stop them blowing over.
- Protect against frosts with cloches wherever possible
- Protect against pests. Slugs and snails will be less of a problem as they hibernate in cold weather but watch out while the weather is milder as they still love a tender seedling.