Which vegetables grow in winter on the balcony, in a high bed and so on? When should winter vegetables be planted? We reveal everything important about growing winter flowers and vegetables in the garden.
In winter, many vegetable beds, which were lovingly cared for in the summer, are abandoned. The reason: Many gardeners believe that you can’t grow vegetables in winter. In reality, many vegetables can be cultivated without any problems even in winter. Those who grow winter vegetables can also look forward to fresh ingredients in the kitchen all year round and make optimal use of their garden even in the cold season. Especially the right choice of varieties, but also a few simple tips and tricks ensure in winter delicious replenishment of healthy vegetables. Here you can find out what you need to consider when growing in winter.
Growing winter vegetables: Which vegetables grow in winter?
Of course, not every vegetable is suitable for cultivation in winter – especially sun-loving species such as tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) or zucchini (Cucurbita pepo var. giromontiina) are hardly to be used in winter without heated greenhouses and elaborate lighting systems. Luckily, there are also a whole range of plants that are frost hardy and thus survive the winter in the garden. Growing winter vegetables is not as difficult as thought: if you know which vegetables are growing in winter, planting turns out to be easier than thought. Overall, the different winter vegetables are roughly distinguished into three categories: fast, medium and slow-growing varieties.
Fast vegetables usually take about 40 days to be ready for harvest. Among the fast-growing vegetables that can be grown in winter are many salads such as arugula (Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa), field salad (Valerianella locusta), endives (Cichorium endivia) or Chicoree (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum), but also spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and Cho Paki (Brassica). chinensis) can then already be harvested. Due to their short growing period, they are perfect for planting with plants that are only harvested in late summer or autumn. Medium-growing varieties include radishes (Raphanus sativus var. sativus), various beets and kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica), kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes), mangold (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris) and leeks (Allium porrum). After planting, this winter vegetable takes an average of 55 to 70 days to mature. The slowest, however, are beetroot (Beta vulgaris), Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera), carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus), onions (Allium cepa) and pastinaken (Pastinaca sativa), because they assume 100 days between sowing and harvest. For this reason, you should plan early enough if you want to grow vegetables in winter.
When do you plant winter vegetables?
The right date for planting winter vegetables depends mainly on the date of the first frost. This can vary greatly depending on the region – the first frost in the North of England is expected in the middle to the end of September, while in the South West many frosts often do not occur until the beginning of November. Hobby gardeners can read the probability of frost in their region well with the MET Office in order to prepare for the winter. Fast-growing vegetables should be sown for at least one and a half months, medium-growing two and a half months and slow-growing even three and a half months before the first frost. If you start planting the winter vegetables too late, it does not reach its desired size, as the plants stop growing at low temperatures. In the worst case, the planted winter vegetables can even enter, because the young plants do not yet have the necessary winter hardness. When growing, therefore, care must always be taken to ensure that the sowing of the plants is started at an early stage. It is worth putting up a planting calendar in your shed or garden room.
Crop rotation in winter vegetable cultivation
Many winter vegetables are not planted until the summer vegetables are already in the pot. That is why it is particularly important to pay more attention to crop rotation in one’s own beds. For example, no botanical relatives should move into the same bed in a row – in the worst case, diseases can pass from the previous plants to their still healthy successors and spread. But you should also take into account the nutrient requirements of the plant: If a heavy-eater is sown again after a heavy-eater, the second plant usually not only has too few nutrients and grows weakly, but also the soil suffers. Therefore, crop rotation in winter vegetable cultivation is well planned.
Growing winter vegetables: how to extend the season
As soon as temperatures drop, many plants start to grow much slower or even end their growth altogether. To make the winter vegetables as big as possible, you can extend the garden season a little with a few tricks. If the bed is mulched with straw, leaves or pine needles, the roots of the plants stay warm longer and the growth can thus be extended. Even better is a high bed in winter. Due to the rotting processes inside, the bed releases heat and thus functions like a natural heating system. For example, winter vegetables grown in high beds can often grow longer than vegetables that grow in the classic bed. In addition, you can install an early bed attachment on the high bed – so the heat stays in the bed and the plants can grow much longer. Only regular ventilation on sunny days should not be forgotten.
Even the greenhouse does not have to go unused in winter – many salads, but also spinach grow better in the protection of the greenhouse, after all, the greenhouse effect occurs here on sunny days and the air becomes significantly warmer than outside.
If you want to grow vegetables on the balcony in winter, the right insulation is the be-all and end-all. If the soil in the pots is completely frozen, many hardy plants cannot bear this. Good insulation (e.g. through styrofoam plates around the container, a jute sack filled with leaves or a coconut mat) protects the root work of the plants and nothing stands in the way of cultivation.
Harvesting winter vegetables
Many winter vegetables can be harvested almost all winter long. Green cabbage, spinach and the like tolerate the cold surprisingly well. Many winter salads can survive the frost and can even freeze and defrost completely without causing much damage. In fact, many even claim that cabbages in particular taste milder and better after the first frost – so it’s worth waiting.
However, one thing should be taken into account when growing winter vegetables: none of the vegetables should be harvested in case of frost. Otherwise, the vegetables can be damaged and become squishy and unsightly after thawing. Instead, wait for sunny, frost-free days to enjoy the fresh vegetables.