If you live in a cooler temperate climate, you might be tempted to think that the winter is a time to give up on the garden and wait until the spring. But with some cover and a little TLC at the start, growing winter vegetables is something anyone can do. Most will do best if planted in late summer and given the chance to become established, but if you sow them indoors, even now, you can still get great greens all winter long. For those blessed with a milder winter and hotter summer, the winter provides the opportunity to grow these green, leafy crops that may not do quite so well during the warmest months. With all the below vegetables, sow seeds just below surface and plant seedlings so lowest leaves are just above the soil, firming in well.
Kale is a staple in cold climates as it is one of the few vegetables to grow in winter that is hardy enough to survive in the sub-zero temperatures. Kale is a delicious leafy vegetable which is very good for you nutritionally and offers a range of vitamins and minerals. Perennial varieties of kale exist and choosing one of these would mean not having to replant kale every year. These perennials can be planted year round in most climates.
Collard greens are similar to kale and yet these will tend to be better than kale to plant in winter in a warmer climate. Collard greens, like kale, come in a range of different varieties – if you are lucky enough to be offered a cutting of a tree collard, jump at the chance! This perennial vegetable will last and last.
3- Good King Henry
Another perennial vegetable, Good King Henry was once widely eaten in Europe but is now all to often looked at as a common weed. On the contrary, this ‘common’ weed is one of the delicious, leafy greens that you can grow through the winter. It may die down a little in the winter but it will pop right back up in the spring and with protection can last through the coldest weather. Sow in spring or plant mature plants all year round.
Most gardeners will grow broccoli as a regular annual crop. Certain types of broccoli will be productive in the winter months, especially under cover or in warmer climates. There is also, however, a perennial ‘broccoli’ (sort of a cross between broccoli and cauliflower) called Nine Star Perennial which can be perfect in a mild winter or with a little frost protection.
Chard is not only delicious, it can be beautiful too. The long, colorful stems of rainbow chard can really brighten up a winter garden, so if you are still not sure what to grow in winter, choose something that is beautiful as well as delicious. Give a little frost protection for chard, and it can feed you colorful meals all winter long. Best sown and plant out in spring after all risk of frost and then successionally throughout the summer for cut and come again crops.
6- Broad Beans
While broad beans (also known as fava beans) will not feed you over the winter, they will crop earlier if left to stand in a winter garden. Be sure to choose the right variety and you could be seeing flowering and cropping about a month sooner than plants sown in early spring. Sow different varieties in early autumn or in spring.
7- Winter Peas
Certain types of pea are also perfect to stand in a winter garden with a little protection from the harshest of weather and from winter garden pests. These peas will also crop earlier than peas planted in the spring. One tip – sow peas close together in autumn/ winter and you can eat the young shoots over winter for salads and stir fries. (You could even do this on a windowsill.)
8- Pak Choi
Pak Choi is one of a number of Chinese cabbage-like vegetables that are hardy enough to withstand cold winter temperatures. Pak choi can be eaten young for salad or left to grow for a little crunch for stir fries and other Chinese recipes. Sow spring, summer and/or early autumn for year round cropping.
One of the spicy leaves, these sure can pep up a winter salad and they are hardy enough to stand outside unless it gets really, really cold where you live. Mizuna and our next pick, mibuna, go hand in hand and are great sown together in a winter vegetable patch. Again, this vegetable can be sown and harvested throughout the year.
Mibuna is another flavorsome leaf that will be great in a mixed winter salad. All of these leaves can also be turned into a pesto or wilted like spinach for use in a great number of different recipes. A warming curry, for example, or a peppery winter stew. Sow in spring and early autumn for year round cropping and eating.
Rocket is good in both cooler and warmer temperate climates and is another fiery yet versatile leaf that is good for you and can be used in the kitchen in a number of different ways. Rocket and ricotta tart is a particularly delicious winter recipe.
12- Lamb’s Lettuce
One of the hardiest of all the winter vegetables, lamb’s lettuce makes great ground cover beneath other plants and will feed you all winter. Sometimes called corn salad, this leafy plant has a mild taste and if you leave it alone and let it flower in summer, it will self seed and feed you next winter too.