Monday, 4 October 2010

Winter Vegetables

This year I'm making a bit more of an effort than usual in growing vegetables for the winter. I've got my usual leeks and parsnips in and have even got some purple sprouting, kale and celeriac (see photo below) in the garden. But I've also been trying out some other slightly more unusual winter vegetables.

First up I'm trying out lots of different types of winter lettuce and salad greens. Outside I've got two types of chicory growing (radicchio and sugar loaf - see photo below), which I'll give a little protection to before the first frosts come, but which hopefully will give me some interesting salad additions. I'm also about to sow out some lamb's lettuce (corn salad) and winter butterhead lettuce ('winter marvel'). This will also need protecting, so I'll be getting the fleece out.

In the greenhouse, I'm growing more winter salad greens, plus coriander. I've got three varieties of oriental greens - komatsuna, mizuna and santoh (pak choi). All of these came from the wonderful Real Seed Catalogue, who also give lots of advice on other things you can grow over winter. I grew mizuna and a couple of other lettuce varieties in the greenhouse last year and they provided me with leaves right through until march/april, so I'm hoping for similar from these.

I'm also growing a winter cooking radish ('weiner runder kohlschwarzer' - see photo below), which is said to grow tennis ball sized roots which can be cooked much like other root vegetables in soups, stews and stirfrys. The roots will keep in the ground throughout winter and when cooked, they have a lovely mild flavour.

Lastly, I'm going to be trying a mustard green called 'Osaka Purple'. I never seem to have any luck getting spring cabbage to germinate, so this is my last minute stand in! It grows a large head of leaves, which will eventually heart up and can be harvested throughout winter. From pictures, it looks quite dramatic - big purple leaves. And you cook it and eat it just like you would cabbage, although it has a more interesting sounding flavour (being a mustard green) - a bit spicy. Sounds nice!

So those are my plans for keeping us in veg this winter. There must be loads more out there too. I'd be really interested to find out about other types of vegetables that can be grown through the winter, so do post up a comment if you have any thoughts on the matter!

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