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Start planning your winter veg

Kale 'Black' Plants from Suttons

If you’re in the middle of dealing with a glut of courgettes or busy processing a bumper harvest of broad beans, now might seem a strange time to start thinking about your winter planting. However, summer is exactly when you need to decide what you want your winter veg patch to look like. 

Effective home growing means making the most of the colder months too. Here’s our monthly guide to sowing vegetable seeds including a quick list of the veg seeds you still have time to sow this summer for a crop this winter or early next spring. 

Winter veg seeds to sow through summer

Cabbage Seeds ‘F1 Winterjewel’ from Suttons
Sow cabbages through summer to harvest next spring
Image: Cabbage Seeds ‘F1 Winterjewel’ from Suttons
  • Leaf Salad – Keep sowing your salad leaf seeds all through summer and continue to grow outdoors until October.
  • Kale – keep sowing seeds until the end of July for planting out before the end of August
  • Cabbage – Sow July to August to crop next spring. All varieties tend to be very hardy and hold up well to the frost.
  • Cauliflowers – Choose an autumn or winter variety. Sow in Sept-Oct and overwinter in a coldframe.
  • Broad beans – Sow winter varieties in late October/November to produce pods in the early spring. That way you’ll get them at least a month before the spring sown varieties.
  • Onions & Shallots – Plant out as sets in the autumn for harvesting the following July. Extremely easy to grow, choose a well-drained spot with reasonably fertile soil. Alternatively, sow spring onion seed in August/September for harvesting in March – May.
  • Peas – Sow October/November under cloches for cropping in late May. 
  • Garlic – Very easy to grow. Plant the individual cloves just under the surface from October to January. Lift and dry the fully mature plants in July.

Just missed the best sowing time – still time to put in young plants

Brussels Sprout ‘Crispus’ from Suttons
Get your Brussels sprouts plug plants in the ground in mid-summer for a tasty winter crop
Image: Brussels Sprout ‘Crispus’ from Suttons
  • Kale – One of the most reliable and nutritious winter vegetables, kale withstands adverse weather conditions to yield a good crop throughout the winter. Normally grown from a July sowing, and picked from late autumn through to spring, you can buy plug plants if you miss the boat.
  • Sprouting Broccoli – Not to be mistaken for the large headed Calabrese, sprouting broccoli produces many shoots with delicious small heads. They’re very good at withstanding cold weather and take full advantage of any warmer air the winter brings. 
  • Brussels sprouts – Can withstand harsh winters, in fact they taste better if they’ve had the frost on them! If you can get them in the ground by early July they should crop in time for Christmas. 
  • Leeks – Plant your leek plugs in early summer for use from October to April. They will happily remain in the ground through the winter until needed. 

Top tips for overwintering veg

Cauliflower Seeds ‘F1 Clapton’ from Suttons
There’s still time to sow cauliflower in June, or sow seeds in autumn to overwinter in a coldframe
Image: Cauliflower Seeds ‘F1 Clapton’ from Suttons

Whether you sow your own seeds or buy vegetable plug plants, if you’re planning to overwinter your crop, here are some quick tips: 

  • Help your seedlings to resist wind-rock by staking them or piling up earth around the bases of the plants 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.

If you’d like a full plateful of winter veg, summer is the best time to start planning it. For more gardening guides, hints, and tips, head over to our Monthly Garden Tasks section where you’ll find a detailed breakdown of everything you need to do in the garden each month.

Lead image: Kale Black Plants ‘Black’ from Suttons/Copyright: Floramedia

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