If you live in the UK, then you know that Winters can be tough. Admittedly they are getting milder, but it’s still difficult to grow anything once we get into Autumn and then Winter. We’re here to tell you that there are plenty of vegetables to grow in the UK winter!
Regardless of whether you have a greenhouse or not – there are useful vegetables that you can grow all year round and specifically throughout Winter.
Obviously, if you do own a greenhouse, or the ability to grow under cover even if it’s a small polytunnel on a raised bed – then you stand a better chance. You’ll be glad to know that if you don’t, some of the vegetables in this blog can be grown in the open and flourish for a good Winter crop!
So let’s dive into some of the hardiest vegetables to grow in the UK winter and keep your plot busy throughout the cold months.
Let’s start off with the king of winter crops, garlic. Useful for most recipes and easy to store, it’s one of the most useful crops we grow and will continue going strong throughout winter.
It’s worth noting that Garlic, needs the chill in order to grow – so if you’re a fan of the pungent stuff then the later months are perfect.
It might be tempting to pop to the supermarket and break up a bulb to plant in your garden, but we strongly advise purchasing commercial growing bulbs rather than supermarket varieties. This way, you can ensure disease-free bulbs and won’t end up battling winter with a lack of Garlic.
Plant the bulbs in rows dug in with well-rotted manure, around 2.5cm deep and and 15cm apart.
You can harvest the plants once the leaves turn brown and wilt, just gently lift the bulbs with a fork. Alternatively, you can use the fresh green shoots as a garnish or in recipes that garlic works well with.
It is worth noting that you can also grow Garlic in Spring and we’ve covered some top tips for when to plant Garlic in the UK in more depth if you’re interested in potentially having year-round harvests.
Finally, legend has it if you plant your garlic on the shortest day of the year, December 21st then your garlic will be ready to harvest on the longest day in Summer, June 21st.
Some of the vegetables we detail in this list tend to overwinter, rather than growing and harvesting throughout the winter months. Spring onions are a fairly hardy allium than can be the perfect vegetable to grow in Winter for an early Spring harvest.
You will need to get your Spring Onions sown in September or October in order to overwinter them. Doing so will give you a decent crop in Spring ready for a nice crisp salad.
Sow seeds thinly in drills 1.5cm deep and ensure that they’re well spaced. You will need to thin out the seedlings so planting with a decent amount of space makes sure you don’t accidentally pull too many out.
Spring onions are one of the many alliums that should be a staple of your vegetable plot, from garlic to leeks. Often the basis of many recipes and providing a bountiful crop!
We’ve only just touched on this delightful veg here, but if you want to learn all the details, then head to our blog on how to grow spring onions.
Fresh peas are one of a gardener’s great delights. Luckily there are many varieties of this vegetable that can be grown over winter in the UK.
Your best bet is to pick a dwarf variety such as Douce Provence, these are easier to protect in the colder months. Either in pots or a raised bed, as long as you have well-drained soil you’re good to go.
Sow the seeds in 5cm drills and around 10cm apart, giving you a decent amount of space to thin out – best in September or late August.
Once the seedlings are up, watch out for pesky pigeons, pheasants and other birds looking for a quick snack. Cover everything with a decent fine mesh while they’re growing and you should ward them off.
When at a decent size, remember to get some poles to train them upwards and get ready for the first crop in early Spring. Another pest to watch out for is mice, who love nibbling on fresh peas, and try to cover the base of the plants with something prickly to keep them away.
It might not go well with your Christmas Dinner, but if you’re looking for a vegetable to grow in Winter then why not try Winter Salad? Although they may not seem like the natural choice over Winter, a few hardy varieties can withstand the harsh weather of the later months.
Much like many of the other vegetables to grow in winter, you will need to ensure your salad varieties are planted early on to see the benefits through Winter. You’re best to make sure they get in the ground in September in a relatively sunny spot to ensure the plants are well-established before the cold sets in.
Lambs Leaf, Watercress and Land Cress are all varieties that will give you a steady picking of leaves throughout the Winter. Even better, when the weather starts to warm up, the plants will go into overdrive and produce a plentiful crop for Spring salads.
It’s best to start all varieties off under cover in seed trays to give the plants the best chance to get through Winter. Once the seedlings have established a healthy level of roots, it’s time to get them in the ground. Ease the seedlings out and plant them in soil that has been prepared with some compost and space them around 7cm from each side in blocks.
With milder winters in the UK now, you’re sure to get a constant snipping of leaves through November to February and then a good burst of Salad towards the end of February. Be on the lookout for slugs and birds who like the young leaves, starting off in seed trays should avoid the plants being picked off entirely though.
Finally, if you’re looking for vegetables to grow in the UK winter, then why not try something that never stops growing? Technically chard is not a spinach at all, but this veg is super hardy and will constantly produce crops whenever it is picked.
The great thing about perpetual spinach is that it will grow in beds or pots. This means that if you’re looking for a healthy green to take you through the cold months either as a vegetable or salad, perpetual spinach has your back.
One of the best varieties to look for is the aptly names ‘Popeye’ and you will need to get them sown by September at the latest if you would like it to crop throughout the winter months. Pop them 15cm apart and drop 2 seeds, 2.5cm deep – giving you double the chance of a good crop, but make sure you pick out the weaker seedling.