What happens in your vegetable plot in the winter?
1) The things you planted in the spring have all been harvested, so it's bare and a bit weedy during the winter months
2) The leeks and cabbages were planted in April, so they are ready for harvesting in the winter
3) The plot has lots of different varieties, and you usually manage to harvest a meal each week unless it's snowing
Ok, It may currently be July, & it may be showing off to say that I fall in to category no 3, but It is possible to be harvesting all through the winter, even with a small vegetable plot. It doesn't need you to take up space all the way through the summer that could be used for fresh produce while the sun is shining. There are plenty of vegetables, and loads of salads and herbs that can be sown and planted from now until late September that you can crop from when the heat of summer has vanished.
Here are 3 of my favourites
Perpetual spinach is so called, because it is just that - perpetual, i'm still harvesting from the plants grown from seeds I sowed last September. The plants germinated quickly and I had salad leaves in the autumn, but I then covered them with fleece and during the winter they survived the snow. Then as soon as the first new light and heat of spring started in February, they grew again on strong overwintered roots, and i've had 6 complete harvests of the entire row - about 25 meals worth now. Not bad for the price of a few seeds. The next lot are currently germinating in guttering, so that when I harvest for the final time next week, - I can plant another row elsewhere to take over. Chard and Rainbow chard (as below, grown from free seeds from Flourish) are very similar, - if you havn't got much space, only grow one, - but a
bigger plot, - plant all three.
now there are several choices with carrots. - Until a few years ago I was hopeless at growing them, - I never got the timings right, and the roots I grew were forked, gnarly and not worth eating. Then I tried growing them in a pot, and I tried varieties Parmex, Mignon and Autumn King. Now I can have carrots to harvest from April through to January.
Parmex are round roots, - so can be grown in the ground. Mignon make great small roots and will germinate really early in the year, so I sow a barrel full in January/ February to get baby roots through the spring and summer. Autumn King are bigger roots, so need a ground free of stones, but will last in the ground all through the winter, - I picked the last of mine in early March and they had survived the snow.
Musselburgh is the variety I use. - I sow it in late may in seed trays, - i plant them up into loo roll middles in July (like the old boys do to enhance their show pize winners) and I pop them in the ground when my courgettes and beans have finished in September. They are also available for sale now at garden centres as seedlings. - Ok, they may not win me prizes at the Autumn Horticultural show, and they don't grow to the mamouth proportions of those you find in a supermarket, but they will feed me in February.
So when you're about to harvest your beans, courgette or lettuce this summer, think about how great it would be to harvest more all year round, and get planning for sowing and planting this Autumn.
If you'd like to know more about Successional Vegetable planting, - find out all the varieties I recommend and the tricks to be able to crop in the winter, plus get to taste my homemade refreshments and enjoy the company of others in a great location, - my next workshop is happening this weekend Saturday 10th July at the Grace and Flavour Garden in West Horsley. There are just 2 spaces left, so if you are interested, Book Now, or Contact me for more details