Archive for the ‘Winter Sowing’ Category

This is just a quick one to remind everyone that Summer is not the only time of year to grow vegetables for yourself and family, many leafy crops can be sown now or soon for over-wintering or supplying fresh greens during the cold months!

beets

Leafy Crops for Winter Vegetable supply

Some plants are intended to over-winter so that in spring after they have been spending the last few months establishing an extensive root network, they take to the new warm weather and pump out loads of delicious crop for us well before the Spring sown annuals are even out of their nursing trays! However, there are plants that will also supply food during the course of Autumn and Winter …

  • Garlic:

There are quite a few things you can plan for now, the best time to sow Garlic is in November as this ensures larger bulbs. There are specialist companies that provide Garlic via online mailorder but you could also just try a small patch of store bought cloves to see how they do! All 50-60 of the Garlic I grew this year were from Fruit and Veg shop bought bulbs, they did okay in my opinion. Plants which can follow Garlic include Tomatoes and even Pumpkins in the place of the harvested bulbs, I do however advise my readers and followers to research more options if possible …

  • Broad Beans:

Broad Beans ‘Flava flava’ can be sown September / October to over-winter for an early harvest in Spring, this mostly means that they should not be heavily affected by Black Aphid as Spring sown plants usually are. You can plan another Summer crop to grow in the place of the Broad Bean plants which you will remove after harvesting the bean pods, this is known in Vegetable Gardening as ‘Catch Cropping’ – effectively using a space for more than one crop over one year / season period.

  • True Spinach:

True Spinach, as opposed to other similar plants such as Perpetual Spinach (Another one to sow before Autumn for possible winter harvest) or Leaf Beet can be sown early to mid August for possible Autumn harvests (depending on your climate), anything sown later will mostly provide good yield in early Spring.
Similarly, Swiss Chard or Rainbow Chards should supply leaf and stalks in Autumn and perhaps Winter as well.

  • Round Seeded Pea varieties:

Round Seeded Peas (there are two types of dry seed, Round and Wrinkle Seeded) Round seeded varieties are hardier and the dry seed does not have any signs of a wrinkled skin. These can be sown September / October for an early harvest in Spring or in January onwards if you missed the Sept / Oct sowing period.

  • Winter Lettuces:

There are a decent number of Lettuce varieties which are quite hardy not only in unheated polytunnels and greenhouses but also outdoors, the best place to look for seed of this sort would be a heritage / heirloom seed supplier as they are likely to stock a few varieties, buying a cloche or mini polythene tunnel won’t be a bad idea as it keeps the cold winter winds from harming your plants. Check Salad Endive out for a year round easy to grow crop, another favourite with some gardeners is Lamb’s Lettuce AKA Corn Salad, this is a great plant to grow in a self-seed bed (A bed where you allow the plants to self seed as to reduce your own workload and allow nature to decide the ”sowing date”.

  • Oriental Greens:

Many oriental leafy vegetables are good for growing and supplying a decent yield in winter, varieties such as: Mizuna, Pakchoi,Tatsoi, Mispoona, Chinese Cabbage and Mibuna are all good.

  • The Hot / Peppery Greens:

Mustard Greens are very hardy, Rocket salad (Arugula) are a great plant to grow late Summer onwards as  the cooler weather will decrease the chances of the plants bolting.
Another good All Year, easy to grow green is Land Cress, placed in this category as it is a little spicy.

  • Windowsill Plants in Pots:

I always say people MUST experiment!! A few years back I grew a couple Tomato ‘Minibel’ (Small Cherry like, Pot Bush Tomatoes) in Terracotta pots indoors on my sunniest windowsill. I got perhaps 20-40 small mini-cherry tomatoes off of each plant during the season in your typical English Winter!

This year I will be growing a Cucamelon (As well as two Minibels again) in a slightly larger Terracotta pot on the same windowsill although with a mini bamboo trellis frame to support this Cucumber relative (Climber) keep an eye or follow this blog to see the results.

I know this list can still be expanded … however, I got lazy 🙂

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There a are a number of plants due for sowing in February, as well as some which show up in the Janurary list, these too can still be sown now …

baby-carrots

Young Carrots Growing In A Container

Indoors:

  • Round Seeded Peas (See explanation / description in January Sowing Calendar – Click Here),
  • Aubergines, Tomatoes and Peppers (Especially Aubergines, these plants really do need a good early start in order to have a chance of baring fruit in our climate), Peppers take long to germinate (Sometimes almost a month so going by what a general seed pack says will almost always spell disater) and Tomatoes can always do with an earlier start – just be sure to have a nice indoor spot for them to grow on in whilst waiting for the last frost date,

Outside (Polytunnel or Green house):

  • Oriental Greens and Winter Lettuce Varieties again for planting in March, (See varieties list in the January Sowing Calendar),
  • If you are in a warmer part of the country, Carrots can be sown inside Greenhouses and Polytunnels to produce an earleir Crop – you can consider these ‘Early First Earlies!’
    NOTE: I would still reccommend experimenting though, I have some carrots which were sown late outdoors with no cover at all and I am in what is considered a ”warmer part of the ountry” these Carrots have survived well on a windy site without top cover, albeit looking worse for wear, they are alive and will definitely improve when the weather gets better

Believe it or not, there are crops as well as other plants that can be started indoors in January in preparation for the upcoming growing season, some plants just need a very early start such as some cabbages as well as if you are growing Onions from seed.

onion-seed

Organic Onions Grown From Seed

Indoors:

  • If you haven’t got a problem with mice, you can start Round Seeded Peas now directly outdoors, if not, just grow indoors until large enough to go outside (Regarding Round Seeded, some peas are Round when dry, others are wrinkled when dry, the Wrinkled varieties are for later sowings),
  • Onion varieties from seed (most people grow Onion from sets, personally I like to know the level of ”Organic-ness” and don’t like growing from sets due to this,
  • Cabbage varieties such as Red Cabbages need an earlier start, refer to your seed packs,
  • Oriental Greens and Winter Salads can be grown again now (You can sow these in Autumn for growing in Polytunnels / Greenhouses) these plants will explode in Spring when the temperatures improve, still for growing under cover though … the varieties are as follows:
    mustard greens, winter lettuces, land cress, mizuna, mibuna, pak choi, mispooona & komatsuna.

Outside (Polytunnel or Green house):

  • The above mentioned Oriental Greens and Winter Salads can be direct sown in Polytunnels and Greenhouses / Cold Frames also

    Click Here for a previous post about starting Companion / Sacrificial Plants in January

”Far more valuable than growing vegetables, … is my sanity, I can be here, and I have no awareness that I’m in the middle of inner city East Bristol, I’m on planet Zog here … and that’s incredibly valuable”
– Mike Feingold, UK Permaculturalist and Allotment Manager

For our overseas friends, Allotments are small areas of land which each council sets aside for interested members of the public who would like to grow their own vegetables, for rent. History of UK Allotment culture can be found by Clicking HERE.

Certain senior allotment holders can become committee members and there will always be at least one Allotment Manager. from the limited video’s or info I have seen about Mike and this allotment site, it seems to be that the whole site is set in a very close knit community / permaculture setting.

Things discussed are: Bed profiles, fruit trees, leguminous deep rooting plants, water retaining plants (Good for wildlife), early flowering plants (good for the pollinators), Winter crops, uses of cardboard etc.

enjoy:

Whilst all beans will have the useful trait of being Biological Nitrogen Fixers (Leguminous) for our soils (Bringing Nitrogen back into the soil naturally) which may have leached out trough heavy rainfall, for example.

The Broad Bean (Fava Bean) is particularly useful to anyone who prefers to ”model nature” (John Kohler’s words) and not rely on chemical non-natural based off the shelf products which, in the end, bring a negative balance to local ecosystems.

Broad Bean Plants

Broad Bean Plants

Positive Traits that make them so useful:

  • Tolerant of heavy soils (Clay),
  • Cold Hardy (not specifically needing be grown in a greenhouse or poly tunnel during winter),
  • Nitrogen Fixing,
  • Green Manure (Chop and Drop before going to seed / flower),
  • Some varieties are used as animal feed and forage,
  • Extremely easy to save seeds,
  • Vigorous growth and,
  • Fast germination too

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