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.
Many winter and spring veg crops are sown in the warmth of August – check out these winter veg crops to sow in August.
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.
A turnip ready to harvest
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.
Harvested celariac corms
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.
Brussels sprouts ready to harvest
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.
Purple-sprouting broccoli ready to harvest
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.
Freshly-cropped red, orange and yellow-stemmed Swiss chard
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.
A chicory plant
Cabbage is a winter staple and can be eaten raw, cooked or preserved. Check out this video for advice on planting winter cabbages.
A winter cabbage ready to harvest
Mizuna has a peppery flavour well suited to salads and as a garnish, as you would with rocket. Find out how to sow mizuna for a winter harvest.
Narrow, deeply-serrated mizuna leaves
A delicious side dish or stirred through a creamy pasta sauce with plenty of garlic. Kale responds to having its leaves removed by growing more, providing plenty of repeat harvests.
Kale ‘Black Tuscany’
Carrots are perfect with roasts, in salads, as a soup and in cake. Follow the advice in our carrot grow guide to get your winter crop on the go.
A freshly harvested bunch of carrots