Winter

I’m often asked if we still eat vegetables from the garden over winter; certainly my neighbours shut their gardens down after the last autumn harvests and generally only get back to them once the Saints de Glace days (11 & 12th May this year, when it is considered safe to assume that we will have no more frost) have passed. For me, the challenge is to keep eating from the garden all year; I have stored potatoes, onions and butternut as well as the canned tomatoes etc, but it is still wonderful to pick from the garden, regardless of the season.

New Year’s day harvest: Romanesco, broccoli, kale and celery

As the weather gets colder – and it has been much colder this year than the past few years – so growth slows considerably and the less robust plants (like celery and pak choi) succumb to the frost, but it is wonderful how other plants survive.

Coriander and leaf celery freeze, then defrost without a problem. the large leaves of the cauliflower in the background protect the head, and Brussel sprouts become even tastier.
Purple sprouting broccoli is now very tall, and is just starting to form the flowering heads, just visible here in the junction of the main stem and the leaves.
Tuscan kale (Calvolo Nero) is one of my favourite winter vegetables- roasted in the oven as crisp chips, sautéed in chilli oil or creamed, in soups and stews – it’s a very versatile and completely cold resistant plant.
Broad beans and peas still under fleece. Broad beans will cope with the cold, peas are a little more fragile, so I hope I can keep them growing.

All the beds now have a thick layer of compost on them – regardless of whether they have plants in or not. The pumpkin patch has the additional layer of black plastic on top to stop weed growth, but also to keep the soil warmer for early spring planting.

The “lasagne” – layers of soil and vegetable matter as fill – has reached a height now where I have to move the wine vat planters (good opportunity to replace the soil in them) and raise the steps. Not always easy when the soil is frozen!

My order of seeds arrived last week – I get such a thrill opening it up and planning my planting for the next season.

First sowings today – shallots “cuisse de poulet”, basil “nufair” and onions “spirit” Trays inside to keep the temperature around 18-20 C

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