I love growing summer veg. Compared to winter fare, they’re so glamorous. Tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, and all the other heat-loving plants are just tremendous.
However, every February when the plot is almost bare and there’s hardly anything to pick, I realise all over again just how important the hardy winter veg are. Any veg that is harvestable now is worth its weight in gold.
At the moment, I’m mainly harvesting leeks, spring greens, kale, cavolo nero, and chard, with some unexpected bonus beetroots thrown in. All of these veg are easy to grow and will last all through the Winter.
I always make sure I sow as many leeks as I can as they will sit in the ground without complaint. Some people like to dig them up and store them in a trench, but I’ve always found this unnecessary. They’re such wonderfully versatile veg, and one of my favourite crops to grow.
I make sure I put a late leek sowing in too. These leeks remain smaller than your main crop through the Winter, but the warmer weather and longer days give the plants a growth spurt. I found this trick out by accident, but harvesting leeks into June sure does help out with the hungry gap.
Spring greens (aka winter cabbage) rock my world during this period too. They’re almost indestructible, and I’ve even experienced plants lasting into the following winter. Sowings between April and August will provide delicious, sweet leaves all through the colder months.
And where would I be without curly kale? Non-Winter has ever killed this brilliant leafy green in all my years of growing. So long as I can keep the whitefly off my kale in the summer, I get a solid supply of kale from 4 plants.
Being a cut and come again crop, the plant will even shoot replacement leaves with your harvest. You can’t ask for more than that.
Recently, I’ve discovered curly kale’s delicious cousin, cavolo nero. Again, keep the whitefly away and you’ll be rewarded with tasty leaves however bad the weather. I love cavolo nero, as I find the taste sweeter than that of curly kale.
Perpetual spinach is another veg happy to endure sub-zero temperatures, wind, and snow. A type of chard, the verdant green leaves will also keep coming the more you pick them. Chard is a real winter staple for me, and one I’ll fold into curries, spread on pizzas, or just serve as a healthy side dish.
The familiar phrase says that when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and none more so than these brave, plucky winter veg. They see off the inclement weather and come up smiling, and on my plot, there’s nothing I appreciate more than that.