Now that the mower is about to be stored away for the winter months, I like to spend a couple of weekends getting my vegetable beds packed so that I have lots of fresh fodder to pick at over the chilly months ahead. Keeping your garden going through the winter gets you outside in the fresh air, allow you to exercise and can give you brilliant home-grown produce.
Up until the end of October there is a good range that can be sown to supplement the leeks, parsnips and sprouts that should already be settled in.
Except for garlic, onion sets, asparagus and cabbages, I sow in modules in my cold frame or greenhouse and plant out as mini-plants a few weeks later.
Alternatively, sow outside and cover with fleece or perforated polythene. And don't forget pests: slugs and snails are less of a threat now as they start to hibernate, but they can still ruin tender young seedlings.
OUR TOP WINTER VEGETABLES:
- 1. Broad Beans
I always autumn-sow broad beans. As well as having more time than I do in spring, it stops nutrients leaching through otherwise fallow soil, which allows its structure to deteriorate.They are ready a good month earlier than those sown in April, and they don’t get black fly. If the beans are in an exposed position and grow too tall (above a foot ) over winter, they can wave around and split just above ground level, so put in canes or sticks and string if necessary.
- 2. Asparagus
Asparagus varieties are now available for autumn planting, which helps them establish that bit quicker.
- 3. Peas & Shoots
For a late spring crop, it’s worth trying sowing seeds now, especially in mild areas. If you sow direct into the ground, plant them one inch deep and relatively closely at about one inch apart, to make up for a higher loss rate.
Plant in groups of three lines all 12in apart to form thick rows, and make each thick row 18in apart.
- 4. Garlic
This is the easiest crop to grow. Plant the cloves individually to a depth of 2.5in deep on light soils and a lot less deep on heavy soils, but always a minimum of one inch below the surface.
The distance should be about one foot apart each way. If you suffered from rust this year, in addition to rotation try hoeing in sulphate of potash in February/March.
- 5. Onions, Spring Onions and Shallots
There are quite a few varieties of onions from sets that can go in now. This is the easiest way to grow onions, and they can be harvested earlier on in the year.
Electric is a good red set, Radar a good yellow and Shakespeare is a highly reliable white.
Sow some spring onions now: White Lisbon Winter Hardy (from T&M) is a good one