What to plant in your vegie patch in winter

frostycabbageA journalist once asked me “Whats the best time of year to start a garden?, and I said “Anytime!” There is not one food growing season, there are four! Let’s take a look at what to plant in your veggie patch in winter. I encourage you to take this leap into year round gardening (or you could call it successional planting); your reward is great – a year round harvest.

There are of course exceptions to every rule. If you are on wet, heavy and therefore cold soil your winter garden will be best in pots. Over time the addition of loads of organic matter, gypsum and mulch will transform the glug into the free draining humus heaven you need for year round planting. For now though the best thing you can do is mulch soggy soils and leave them well alone. The other exception is (quite obviously) if your garden is under snow.

Understanding your unique growing environment is essential. There is a lot of advice out there and not all of it is going to apply to your patch. The only way you learn your gardens limits is by mucking in and doing it! This here is what I can plant in winter, in my Horowhenua garden, lower half of the north island, NZ. Tweak it to suit your place.

Another important understanding for the food gardener is the truth of how long from seedling to harvest. Good things take time. In the matter of a broccoli you’re looking at 3 months, a lettuce 6 weeks, garlic 6 months. Add some frosty cold weather and it’ll all take longer. So when I say planting the winter garden – it’s just that – planting. The food you’re harvesting now was thoughtfully planted in autumn.

Vegetables to plant or sow outside:

  • Plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy for spring harvest.
  • Direct sow rocket, radish, raddichio, sno-peas, peas and broadbeans for spring/ summer harvest
  • Direct sow mustard and legume greencrops. (Now you’re really thinking like a food gardener – preparing your ground for future crops.)
  • Plant garlic, shallots, spring onions and onions for spring/ summer harvest.
  • Plant globe artichokes for spring harvest and asparagus crowns for future springs (about 3 years before you can harvest but oh so worth it)

Vegetables to plant or sow under cover:

By under cover I mean in the greenhouse, in a cloche, under bubble wrap or under bottles. Old windows and car windscreens are fab! Adding another layer warms the air and soil and speeds tender seedlings along. Another way to warm your seedlings is to grow them in pots close to your house.

  • Direct sow coriander, spinach, miners lettuce, corn salad, mesclun and kale.
  • Plant out saladings.