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Best expert advice on sowing hardy winter veg seeds

Single green cabbage closeup

Summer’s here and there’s plenty to do in the garden, from popping in bedding plants to picking beans and strawberries. But if you want nutritious, homegrown veggies in the depths of winter, now’s the time to start sowing succession crops. We checked in with our favourite gardening bloggers to see which hardy vegetable seeds they’re sowing this summer. Here’s what they said…

In the meantime, browse our full range of vegetable seeds to find traditional favourites as well as exciting new varieties.


Which seeds to sow in summer for winter and early spring crops

Cauliflowers mature over several weeks, so you needn’t worry about a glut
Image: Cauliflower Seeds ‘F1 Clapton’ from Suttons

It seems strange to think about winter crops in the middle of summer, but careful planning now will keep your harvest going through the colder months and well into next spring. The Suttons team suggests sowing seeds like cabbages and cauliflowers this summer. But don’t worry if you’ve missed the sowing window. It’s easy to buy veg plants and there’s still time to put them in. Think sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts and leeks. Read the full article for tips on planning your winter veg and learn how to make your garden productive all year round. 

“When it comes to winter vegetables, we really do need to think ahead.” That’s the advice of Richard Suggett of The Veg Grower Podcast, whose episode on what to sow now for winter veg is full of practical advice. Cauliflower and kale are among his top choices, and he also intends to sow cabbage for Christmas dinner! Listen to the full episode to find out what else he’s sowing this summer, and pick up expert tips on growing brassicas.

No-dig expert Charles Dowding sowed his spring onions in late August and, as you can see from his video, they’re coming along nicely. Timing is crucial, as you need the plants to be “small enough to not be too battered by the wind or suffer from hard frost in the winter, but also large enough that they can survive”. Watch his helpful video for six vegetables to grow through the winter.

Sowing spring cabbage seeds

Sow ‘Red Drumhead’ cabbage seeds in August for an early crop the following year
Image: Cabbage ‘Red Drumhead’ from Suttons/©Floramedia

In June and July, Ivan sows Savoy cabbage seeds that will be ready to harvest from late December onwards, but he says they’ll happily sit outside right through the winter. To encourage his seeds to break the surface as quickly as possible, he uses a colander to sieve a very light covering of compost over them. Watch the full video over at Ivan’s Gardening Allotment UK for a helpful demonstration. And to keep his greenhouse productive through the winter, he also sows Pak Choi (Chinese cabbage) in September as a cut-and-come-again crop. What a great idea!

Before you pot on your spring cabbages, watch this interesting video over at Steve’s Seaside Kitchen Garden & Allotment. With an impressive selection of cabbages and other brassicas overwintering in his polytunnel, Steve explains that he’d struggle through the ‘hungry gap’ if he didn’t have them ready to go in the ground early next year. 

Left it a bit late to sow your brassica seeds? Over at That’s What We Call The Good Life,  YouTube gardener Susanne recommends ordering some “part-grown plants to get you started”. She plants out her Savoy cabbages in September, and expects them to be ready by spring. Her top tip? Firm them in well to help them form strong hearts. Susanne also covers her cabbages to keep pests at bay.

For Instagram allotmenteer Lindsay, spring cabbages really brighten up her plot in January, when it often looks “a bit barren”. She planted them the previous autumn and, as you can see from her photo, they look incredibly healthy! Lindsay grows a wide variety of fruit, veg and flowers in Stirling. Follow her journey over at @scottish_allotment as she takes on an even bigger plot!

Sowing swede and turnip seeds

Bowl of purple and white turnips
Sow turnips little and often for a steady supply of tender roots
Image: Turnip ‘Purple Top Milan’ from Suttons

“July is a fantastic time to sow some swede,” says Gary of The Allotment Garden and Kitchen, along with turnips, carrots, beetroot and many other nutritious veggies. If you direct sow your seeds, just remember to thin out the seedlings so they’ll have plenty of room to grow. Want to know the best veg seeds to sow in July? Watch Gary’s video for expert advice.

If you’ve never grown them before, watch Peter’s week-by-week video diary on how to grow swedes over at A Thorny Pot to see the entire process from sowing to harvesting. He starts his swedes off in trays, sowing 2-3 seeds per cell to ensure a good germination rate. When thinning out, Peter explains that “the strongest seedling is not always the largest.” He advises choosing the seedlings with the greatest number of leaves and the thickest stems. 

Turnips are fast growers and can be ready to harvest in as little as five weeks when they’re at their tastiest and most tender. For this reason, John Harrison of Allotment & Gardens recommends successional sowing turnip seeds every few weeks for “a continuing supply of flavoursome young roots”. You can even eat the leafy turnip tops as “a delicious green vegetable”

Other vegetable seeds to sow in summer

Purple sprouting broccoli on table
Purple sprouting broccoli is hardy, delicious, and perfect for brightening up the veg patch!
Image: Broccoli ‘Purple Sprouting Continuity Mix’ from Suttons

Did you know that sprouting broccoli is far hardier than the more traditional calabrese? It’s well suited to sowing in early summer, explains Benedict Vanheems of GrowVeg, and produces “a crop in the cooler months, from late winter and on through spring”. If you get the timing right, your broccoli seedlings will be ready to plant out just as your summer veg is being harvested, making it a great succession crop. 

Over at Rafs Kitchen Garden, Raf’s beetroot seedlings are ready to go in the ground as soon as gaps appear in July. He rejuvenates the soil with poultry manure before planting them out, and will enjoy harvesting the leafy green tops, baby beets and larger beetroots over the following months. Watch his winter vegetable planting video for more inspiration! 

Hailed as a superfood, you can grow kale all year round with a little expert help from Huw Richards. He grows seven varieties of kale, starting them off in a seed bed before transplanting them into gaps. In his helpful video, Huw explains that kale is one of his favourite ‘cut and come again’ crops through the winter months. Did you know that the flower stems are also edible? “Treat them a bit like purple sprouting broccoli and they’re absolutely delicious,” he says! 

Don’t let your veg patch sit idle through the winter when there are so many varieties that will grow happily in the cold. If you’re not sure which vegetable seeds to sow each month, check out our helpful guide for advice.

Lead image: Cabbage (Savoy) ‘F1 Serpentine’ from Suttons

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