The vegetable garden is the pride and joy of every ardent gardener. Just because the weather outside has turned cold and winter is coming, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow veggies in your garden. If you think that winter and gardening don’t mix well, you should think again. There are a number of hardy veggies that can withstand the harsh winter weather and still yield fresh produce. So don’t leave your vegetable patch empty this winter, and try sowing and planting some of these veggies instead.
Even in winter’s coldest months you can harvest fresh, delicious produce. Drawing on insights gained from years of growing vegetables in Nova Scotia, Niki Jabbour shares her simple techniques for gardening throughout the year.
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Onions, Shallots, and Spring Onions
If you plant onions or shallots in the autumn, they will grow well over the winter with little or no garden maintenance required. There are also cold-resistant varieties of spring onions such as the White Lisbon Winter Hardy, which can fare quite well in this weather. You can try some of the winter-hardy onion varieties such as Radar, First Early, Shakespeare, and Electric. But Jermor and Echalote Grise are the most preferred shallot varieties as they can resist the cold well. If you plant onions in late autumn or even after Christmas, you can enjoy fresh produce early on in the spring.
If you want to enjoy peas in spring, you should start planting them now. Sowing one of the winter-hardy varieties such as Meteor or Kelvedon Wonder in autumn will allow you to harvest an early crop in late spring – 3-4 weeks earlier than most gardeners! Pea shoots are quite tasty too, and you can eat these even earlier in salads and stir-fries. If you want your pea seeds to germinate faster, just put them on a wet towel and wait for roots to develop. Then plant them in clusters around 12 inches apart and wait for spring to harvest your first crop.
Spinach (especially the perpetual varieties) is a great cut-and-come-again vegetable that you can easily grow and enjoy in winter. It can be used in salads and stews. If you choose to eat it cooked, make sure you don’t overcook it – just wilt the leaves so that they retain their vitamins. Spinach is a great source of iron too and the best bit is that it requires very little garden care. The most popular winter varieties are Merlo Nero and Riccio D’Asti. If you sow your spinach in early autumn, you will be able to enjoy a good supply of its fresh green leaves throughout the winter months. If you harvest it regularly and remove blooms so that it doesn’t run to seed, you can continue harvesting it well into summer.
Garlic is one of the easiest crops you could grow in your garden and you can choose from many varieties like Wight Cristo, the creamy-textured Chesnok Red, Province, or the ever-popular Solent Wight. Garlic, much like onions, has a longer growing cycle. If you want to harvest yours in late spring and early summer, you should start planting now. Plant your cloves 2.5 inches deep for light soils or shallower, around 1 inch deep, for thick soils, a foot apart.
Despite the cold and harsh weather, you can eat freshly picked green salads in winter. You can enjoy a steady supply of the many varieties of winter hardy lettuce as well as other leafy vegetable varieties. Many of those are of the cut-and-come-again variety, so you can sow them once and harvest them throughout winter. Popular winter hardy lettuce varieties include Niche Mixed, Winter Gem, and Meraviglia d’Inverno San Martino. Land Cress, Mustard, and Lambs Lettuce are also widely grown in winter.
As you can see, there is no reason not to make the most of your vegetable patch in the winter months. With a bit of care, some preparation, and dedication, you too can grow these five types of veggies this winter.
Heather Roberts is a content writer from London, United Kingdom. Currently, she writes on behalf of Chiswick Expert Gardeners.