All about winter vegetables

All about winter vegetables

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Who says winter does not necessarily mean end of crops. By choosing varieties adapted to the season and by using protections - chassis, tunnel, mulching, etc. - it is possible to bring in numerous vegetables which will be tasted as early vegetables the following spring. Without counting the cultures put in place during the year and which reach maturity during the winter: chews, parsnips, leeks, endives ... See, there is life in the vegetable garden, even during the cold season! When the weather is gray and even seasoned gardeners enjoy indoors, it is enough to evoke the promise of hearty soups made of good vegetables from the garden and that of crisp early vegetables to be tasted in fine weather to regain motivation necessary to get to the vegetable patch. Not to mention that the fact of growing throughout the year allows you to consume seasonal vegetables, freshly picked and grown locally, instead of vegetables coming from the fridges of hypermarkets or from warm countries! For the gardener, the winter period can also be used to organize the crops for the following season: draw new growing squares, organize the crops according to the rules of the rotation of species (leaf, root or fruit plants), buy seeds, cleaning tools…

Protect winter crops

Hardy as they are, winter vegetables sometimes need a little help from the gardener to remain valiant despite the onslaught of the cold. There are several devices to give them the protection they need: - Greenhouses : these are hard structures, in which one can stand upright and which have the advantage of good ventilation. - Chassis : smaller and therefore less expensive than greenhouses, they require greater monitoring - ventilation when it is hot and protection when it freezes -, precisely because of the confinement that prevails there. - The tunnels : composed of hoops covered with a plastic sheet, they have the advantage of making it possible to sow seeds in the ground. Once the season has become milder, they are dismantled, protection is no longer necessary. - Forcing sails : they will be useful for individually protecting isolated plants. - A blanket made of dry leaves or ferns : it is the simplest solution to implement and the most economical. This layer of dry matter will protect the foliage from the cold and ensure a mild temperature at ground level, thus helping the seeds to rise.

Varieties grown in winter

It would be a mistake to think that no seed can germinate or no plant flourish once winter is installed. Some appreciate the cold, or even need to freeze to germinate. This is particularly true for the emergence of fruit trees: apple, pear, almond, cherry, chestnut, hazelnut, walnut, peach, etc. During the winter months, their thick casing is put to the test by the action of humidity and frost. When it yields, at the beginning of the year, the warmer temperatures are back and the seeds can then come out of their dormancy and give birth to a new plant which will have a whole season to grow and harden before the return of the big cold. This need in cold for certain plants to germinate is called vernalization. Vegetables are rarer to be in this case. However, some can be grown during the winter period, provided that some precautions are taken to protect them from negative temperatures and excess humidity. This is the case of garlic which can be planted from October to March for a harvest the following summer. If the soil is heavy, just plant the cloves on small mounds to promote water drainage (see our fact sheet: Planting autumn garlic). These growing tips also apply to onions and shallots. Other cultures which are introduced to this period: that of beans, carrots and gourmet peas. These crops put in place during these winter months allow you to take advantage of so-called "early vegetables" the following spring.

Varieties harvested in winter

They are sown for some from the beginning of the year for a harvest from the fall until the following spring. Leaf and root vegetables were more common during this period. Lamb's lettuce Adorable with its small leaves that grow in rosettes, lamb's lettuce is one of the star salads of winter. Sowing is done in August. You will have the choice between varieties with large or small seeds. If the latter require more harvesting and cleaning work, they have a greater resistance to cold.

Parsnip It is the most rustic of the root vegetables, and one of the least known! This vegetable generally has the shape of a carrot, from which it is distinguished by its whitish color. It is enhanced in many ways: raw, in soup, mashed ... Sown between April and June, it matures from September. So either you tear it out or you leave it in the ground to keep it fresh for months. Jerusalem artichoke Here again we are dealing with a root vegetable still little known to consumers. However, its flavor that evokes that of the artichoke, its high productivity and its rusticity are all qualities that recommend it! Planting is done from January to March for a harvest from November to March of the following year. As the Jerusalem artichoke does not fear the cold and it wilts quickly, it is recommended to collect the tubers as needed throughout the winter season. The leek Leek is a vegetable that is no longer presented. Its long white and green silhouette is present on the stalls almost all year round. For winter harvest, choose varieties 3 and 4 that are cold hardy. Depending on the variety, sowing will take place from February to May. endive Endive is a salad that deserves! After sowing and once the vegetation is well developed, it is still necessary to wait for the time of forcing, that is to say the regrowth of the vegetation in the dark. This is how the leaves acquire their whiteness and crispness. Sowing is done in May for consumption from October until spring. The cabbage Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green cabbage ... Here is a family whose main representatives enjoy the winter frost, the interest of cultivating different varieties in the palette of flavors and culinary uses: cauliflower raw or gratin, green cabbage in a pot and soups ... Sowing is done around April-May for a harvest from September to spring.


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