Winter veg gardening, you probably think we’re mad…
The temperature has been gradually dropping over the last month, in fact this past couple of days, I’ve even popped a wooly hat on to take the dog out.
Plus the Met Office are promising us lucky Brits Arctic winds and snow by the end of the week. Not something I’m particularly looking forward to if I’m honest.
But hey ho, no matter how cold and miserable the weather gets, its a mistake to neglect our gardens over the coming weeks. Especially the veggie garden!
So if you’re thinking about a spot of winter veg gardening, then I’ve just done a quick survey in the Lazy Susan office and our green-fingered team have helped me to compile the following tips:
Do successive plantings
Doing successive plantings is a fab way to extend your growing season. It is basically as the name implies, simply growing more than one vegetable, in the same spot, during the year.
Quick growing items like lettuce, beetroots, spinach and radishes are perfect for this. You can also use a cloche cover to provide extra protection from any frost etc.
And the British weather is so unpredictable these days, don’t be afraid to try planting some things a little later than recommended.
Yes it can be a little risky, but the rewards are definitely worth a little risk and by successive planting you’re upping productivity anyway.
Protect the roots from the worst of the frost
Protection is the key to extending your growing season.
Try using cheesecloth or the specialist agricultural cloth you can buy to place around your crops. This will provide a little bit of additional heat.
Or, alternatively, you could add a layer of bark, compost or mulch a few inches deep around all your veggies.
Just make sure you use small stone grit around the plants themselves. This will help stop moisture building up and rotting the stems, while the layer of mulch will keep the roots warm.
Keep your vegetables growing
The temptation for many of us, not matter how experienced we are, is to dig the veg up as soon as we can. The consensus at Lazy Susan is don’t be to hasty, veg will almost always keep better in the ground than anywhere we can store it.
It won’t work with all types of veg and if they get caught in a bad frost, then forget it. However, when you know a little frost is on the way, throw a cloche over your veg to protect them, and just leave.
Potatoes and leeks are best left in the ground, and they’ll stay there until Christmas if given a little extra protection from frost.
Parsnips can also be kept in the ground, but carrots are a big no no as they attract pests, so get ’em up!
Store fresh vegetables
When you do dig your veg up, start by hanging it in a cool place, as this will help to keep them fresh that little bit longer.
Onions and tomatoes left on the vine for example will keep for many weeks just hung up in a cool shed at this time of year. Much longer than anything from the supermarket will in the fridge too.
Good veg can only grow in soil that is well aerated and fertile. And if you’re not growing, then autumn is the perfect time get outside and prepare it…
Dig and turn the soil to at least 5 inches deep and this way you’ll kill any weeds, help with drainage through the winter and make the soil easy to turn come springtime.
When it comes to fertilizer, do your research. Test your soil type and see what it needs!
Get a Greenhouse
Of course, if you’ve got a greenhouse, then it’s much easier to grow veg over the winter. And if you have a heated greenhouse then you’re really on a roll.
Most plants and veg grown in a greenhouse is best planted in containers or raised beds, and this way they’re easy to transfer to the garden come spring.
Grow in containers
Most veg will grow well in a container part (as described above) or full time, as long as they are provided with enough (and not too much) water. Good drainage is also vital.
And our final tip, if you want to grow veg though the winter in a container, your best bet is to go for large terracotta pots.
They generally hold heat in better than other materials, are supplied with good drainage holes, and Terracotta is a highly porous material, so it helps the roots breathe.