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How to create a vegetable garden and grow vegetables over the winter.

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How to grow vegetables – Winter

With the onset of autumn gales, colder
weather and shorter days, it can be tempting to just let the garden
‘overwinter’ until the spring. Once you’ve done your autumn tidy up,
surely it’s then all about staying in the warm and going through seed
catalogues, picking out next year’s crops, right?

Well actually,
there’s still plenty you can be doing to make the most of your winter
vegetable plot.

By utilising your space effectively and planning your
yearly growing cycle, you can produce seasonal crops right through the
winter and into early spring.

gardener using fork in garden

For areas that are
sheltered from the worst of the winter frosts, the variety of
winter/spring crops that can be grown is surprisingly wide. But for
gardens in ‘frost hollows’ or that are exposed to the worst of the
winter weather, there are other crops that you can choose that will be
hardy enough to withstand all but the lowest of temperatures.

Outdoor crops

If you’ve done your preparation
properly, your vegetable beds should need relatively little tidying up
before planting the first of your winter outdoor crops. If you’re
working on heavy clay soil, ensure that you’ve dug down at least six
inches and introduced some organic matter such as well-rotted manure
into the soil to make sure that there are plenty of nutrients to nourish
the young seedlings. This will also help to keep the soil well drained
and prevent it becoming waterlogged. Once your beds are prepared, you
can sow hardy crops such as broad beans, Brussel sprouts, winter
cabbages and purple sprouting broccoli.

fresh vegetables in trugLearning
how to grow vegetables
is a continuous process, and as you
become more confident in your skills you will discover exactly what you
can do with the plot that you have.

If you’re just starting out, make
sure that you know your soil pH, that your beds are free of weeds and
grass and that your soil texture is crumbly.

Once you have made
sure that the blank canvas is prepared, growing any kind of vegetable
should be relatively easy with a little planning and forethought.

Cloches and Polytunnels

One of the easiest ways to grow winter
vegetables is to use cloches and polytunnels to protect them from the
worst of the weather.

If you’re only just starting to learn
to grow vegetables and don’t want to spend too much money on equipment,
an effective and cheap alternative to cold frames and cloches is to cut
clear, two litre drinks bottles in half and use them as individual
cloches for delicate seedlings.

This is also a very ‘environmentally
friendly’ way of using up unwanted bottles, as the ‘mini-cloches’ can be
reused all year round.

garden in a bottle

Most root crops
such as carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips and leeks can be sown for
winter cropping, and are reasonably hardy even through quite sharp
frosts.  By protecting them with polytunnels or cloches, you can leave
the crops in the ground and harvest them as and when needed. This will
also help if you are limited on storage space for crops, and for some
types of vegetables will also actually improve the flavour.

Ensure that you nip
out the central stems of the plants to stop any vertical growth and
encourage the plant into putting more effort into producing larger

Learning how to
grow vegetables is fun all year round, and if you plan your garden
carefully you can ensure fresh vegetables with minimum ‘food miles’ and
maximum freshness, even in the darkest days of winter.





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