Gardening blog… working in the winter kitchen garden

Don’t let your kitchen garden go into lock-down over the winter months. There is a surprising number of vegetables you can be harvesting right now. Here’s how to plan your gardening year to include them in future.

If you are anything like me, sometimes the change of seasons can catch you a little on the back foot. And working in a kitchen garden – or just growing vegetables around the space you have, like I do – is one area of gardening where it’s pretty much impossible to play catch up.

With that in mind, I’ve been taking a look at the veg which can be harvested right now, and what you need to do if you’d like to be harvesting them in your own garden this time next year.

For example, you’d get no prizes for guessing that over the next three months you can harvest your Brussels sprouts. So if you haven’t been growing any but are now wishing you were, why not make a note in your new 2017 diaries that you can sow Brussels indoors in February ready to plant out in April.

The one vegetable I make a pledge to grow every year – and 2017 will be the year I plan better – is winter cabbage. Harvest through November and into December but get sowing indoors March and April and plant out seedlings around May time.

Also, did you know that lettuce can be harvested 12 months of the year if you keep to a regular rotation of sowing? Your next opportunity to jump on the bandwagon is in January, when you can sow indoors. Start sowing outdoors from March, then go back to sowing indoors in August and October.

When it comes to over-achieving vegetables, another growing power-house and under-rated (in my opinion) is cauliflower. Cauliflowers can be harvested February to December. They are also the main ingredient of one of my favourite winter dishes … cauliflower cheese. If you plan to grow this in future, start sowing indoors in January.

But if your head, and your plans, are still very securely anchored into 2016, here are two suggestions for sowing this side of Christmas.

Firstly, sow an early round of broad beans outdoors in November. Be ready to use some protection, such as fleece. If you aren’t able to sow them in a sheltered position or if we have a harsh winter, it may be necessary to hold off until February. Make sure the site you choose is well drained and dig in some new compost.

You can also start off onions in November and December. Sow indoors, or outside under cover. Onions like sun and shelter, and well-drained soil. Make sure you pick onion sets which are suited to being planted at this time of year. A few ideas include Onion ‘Shakespeare’, Onion ‘Senshyu Yellow’ and ‘Red Cross’. Don’t forget, when you plant onion sets the tips should just be showing above ground. Firm the soil around them.

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