The winter garden needn’t be devoid of life. On the contrary, it can be home to an array of winter crops that provide fresh ingredients for seasonal meals.
Robust vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts, beetroot and turnips shrug off the worst of the weather, with no adverse effect on flavour. On top of these familiar favourites, you could also try your hand at lesser grown plants like skirret and chicory.
It’s a good idea to have a roll of fleece and some cloches to hand, too. Hardy crops are unlikely to be killed even on the coldest nights, but they can help maintain the quality of the roots and leaves for eating.
Discover some of our favourite winter veg to grow, below.
These bulbous vegetables are perfect for adding to soups and for bulking out stews. Watch this video for advice on how to grow turnips from seed.
Celeriac can be used as a purée or to serve with roast meat. It’s an easy crop to grow that’ll perform well, even in poor summers. Protect from the worst weather with fleece or cloches. Find out how to grow celeriac.
Love them or hate them, a Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without some buttery Brussels sprouts. Once planted, make sure they’re firmed in well to avoid windrock.
Purple sprouting broccoli
Sprouting broccoli are robust plants, so they make ideal winter crops. Harvest your spears when the flowers have developed but are not yet open. Go for the central spear first to encourage side shoots to develop. Find out more in our sprouting broccoli fact file.
Cooked with a generous handful of mushrooms, chard makes a tasty pasta sauce. The colourful stems look great in an ornamental border, too. Check out these ways to combine edible and ornamental plants for more ideas.
Chicory can be roasted, wilted or added to salads. Go for the lettuce-like, ‘non-forcing’ varieties, which can be overwintered with the help of fleece and cloches.
Cabbage is a winter staple and can be eaten raw, cooked or preserved.
Watch Monty Don plant out winter cabbages in this video clip from Gardeners’ World: