Dreaming about a winter garden
So, I’m dreaming about a winter garden – again. It has been four years in a row now that I basically don’t have a – mention worthy – winter garden. There was no winter garden in the first year that I started gardening (2013), as it was the first year of gardening and I was under-prepared. Then, the second year (2014), I only had some kale and a few bushes or red chicory. I hadn’t planned to grow anything as we were considering a – cross border – move that winter. Last year (2015) we were actually moving houses and I had to dig up all the plants and either pot them up for moving, give them away to friends or get rid of them. The garden – that produced amazingly that year – was left in a desolate state.
And now this year (2016), I won’t even show you a picture of the winter garden, as it’s basically empty and frozen. Sure, the garden looks very prepared for the new season. I’m very proud of that obviously. And there are perennials growing above or under ground, but most of them only will give me a harvest in the spring, summer or autumn. The only things that I could harvest from the garden now are the Jerusalem artichokes, the horseradish and a few tiny cabbages and leeks. Although I might already be too late with those last two.
Upcoming winter everything will be different (I tell myself). I’m working on my planting plan for next year now and although I’m easily distracted by lovely tomatoes and other warmth loving plants, when it comes to planning this year, I’ve forced myself to focus on some serious winter garden planning.
It’s the perfect time to do this actually, as I can just copy other people’s efforts, or better: I can be inspired by other people’s gardening endeavours. How? By scrolling through blogs and image diaries of vegetable gardeners, and taking note. I do that now, as this is the time to see what people harvest right now, how their gardens look like and how well things do in a cold winter. As it is cold this winter, isn’t it? Let me take you along with me on my virtual tour around a world of allotments. Hopefully it will inspire you to (better) plan your winter garden as well.
TOURING AROUND WINTER GARDENS
Winter gardens can be so beautiful. By walking by other people’s gardens, I’m realising that people create beautiful winter gardens by doing these three things:
- sowing plants in a timely manner so that they can stay green during winter
- leaving structures up in the garden (plant-based or man-made structures)
- putting up cold frames
I’m going to do all these things this year. I removed most of the structures from summer this autumn. I will definitely leave whatever I can in the garden from now on. I also have one cold frame that I will try to work with from spring on. And most importantly I will try to grow things that stay green during winter. I will touch that subject in the next part of this post.
Time to move on to the sowing lists. Below you’ll find bits of my winter garden inspiration and lists of things that I will grow this year to create a beautiful and bountiful winter garden. The list will be divided per vegetable type. I will also add some marks on my list. Some things that I’m already growing as perennials will get a √ , the annuals that I have grown before without trouble will get a ♥, things that I have never tried before will get a ∴ and other stuff that I have tried but have trouble growing will be marked with a ¿ . Just to make a mental note for myself to try harder at those crops that apparently need more attention from me.
So, what will I grow as winter root veggies next year:
- swedes & turnips ♥
- parsnips ¿
- winter carrots ¿
- black radish ∴
- late beetroot ♥
- Jerusalem artichokes √
- horseradish √
- salsify √
Brassica’s, cabbages and chicory
Amazing what people are growing right? This is next years list for this winter vegetable group:
- kale ♥
- green cabbage ¿
- red cabbage ¿
- black radish ∴
- purple sprouting broccoli ♥
- perennial cabbage √
- brussel sprouts ♥
- kohlrabi ♥
- red chicory ♥
- white chicory ∴
Now this is a section of things that I mostly have grown before, but not in early winter actually. Leafy greens look so tender and fragile. But apparently looks can be deceiving, so I’ll put these leafy things on my list:
- claytonia ♥
- mache ♥
- variety of lettuce ♥
Just a few things that I wanted to give a separate small group:
- fennel ♥
- leeks ♥
- tiny spring onions (winter onions) ♥
- cardoon ♥
The winter harvest
Now if I follow these lists, I’m pretty sure I will be rewarded with these baskets full of winter harvests. What a good perspective! I hope this post inspired you too. If you have other things that you think I should be growing to harvest in winter, let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear!
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