Hardy winter vegetables

There are some really robust vegetables that can put up British winters, ensuring that you have a supply of vegetables throughout the winter months. Try Brussels sprouts, kale, leeks, parsnips and cabbage.

Kale

Quick facts

Group Vegetables
Planting time Spring-Summer (April to August)
Height and spread Up to 1m (5ft) high and 60cm (2ft) wide
Aspect Sun
Hardiness Fully hardy
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Cultivation notes

Try growing the following vegetables to ensure that you have a supply of vegetables throughout the winter months:

  • Brussels sprouts are a classic for Christmas and can withstand harsh winter weather in situ
  • Kales will produce greens all winter and a later a flush of tasty shoots that are very welcome stir-fried in late winter or spring; they make brilliant bubble and squeak. They are also very ornamental
  • Leeks look a bit sick after sharp frosts but rebound, growing slowly all winter
  • Modern hybrid Savoy and other winter cabbages such as ‘January King’-types are also remarkably hardy, shrugging off frost, and very tasty. To save space they can be sown after over-wintered crops of broad beans or early peas and potatoes
  • Parsnips are resistant to frost
  • Purple ‘Cape’ cauliflowers produce small heads in February
  • Sprouting broccoli shrugs off hard weather and, whenever the air warms in late winter, develops delicious shoots that go on for weeks
  • Other very hardy roots include scorzonera, salsify and hamburg parsley

Propagation

For full details on sowing the seeds of the vegetables mentioned, please click on the links at the end of the Growing Notes above.

Cultivar Selection

Vegetable seed companies are often introducing new varieties to try but here are a few recommendations;

  • Brussels sprouts: try infamous-sounding, but actually very reliable, ‘Revenge’ AGM
  • Cabbages: (January king-types) ‘Deadon’ and ‘Holly’ AGM
  • Kale: curled green kales such as ‘Reflex’ AGM and fresh and red cultivars include ‘Redbor’ AGM
  • Leeks: choose winter-hardy cultivars ‘Toledo’ AGM or ‘Oarsman’ AGM
  • Parsnips: all are very hardy
  • Savoy cabbage: ‘Wirosa’, ‘Wintessa’ AGM, ‘Endeavour’ AGM and ‘Medee’
  • Sprouting broccoli: ‘Bordeaux’ AGM ‘Red Arrow’ AGM and ‘Red Spear’ AGM are particularly hardy and early

Links

AGM veg

    Brussels sproutsLeeksSprouting broccoliCurly kale

    Problems

    For parsnips, it is a good idea to prevent the ground from freezing so you can dig them up even after a week of heavy frost. Use an insulating duvet of bin liners filled with cardboard or a 15-20cm (6-8in) layer of straw.

    Pests to watch for include slugs, snails, aphids and pigeons.

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