Autumn is in the air! And what better thing to do this cool month than prepare your garden for the cold month ahead.
During this time, the soil has enough moisture to allow roots to bury deeper and strengthen the plant for the coming rains and floods. Even new plants can be grown because the ground retains some of the warmth from the late summer sun.
And to make full use of this season, start preparing your small greenhouse and garden beds for winter salads. Just think of the possibilities of warm winter vegetable soup with crusty bread, chunky beef stews with garden vegetables and creamy root vegetable mash. The earlier you sow, the more edibles you’re sure to harvest and enjoy throughout the colder months.
So get your trusty garden tools and structures now if you want to bring home-grown food to your kitchen table this winter. Start growing one or all of these 7 tasty vegetables this month.
And oh, we’ve prepared some tasty recipe ideas for some of the winter harvest listed here. Download the PDF below this post and get access to our special winter recipe you can prepare for your family.
And that’s not all. We’ll share loads of vegetable planting tips, too, to help you achieve a great vegetable harvest. Learn it from the gardening expert and food waste reduction advocate Love Food Hate Waste.
Kale is a plant that will not only provide you with a perfect addition to winter soups, salads, pasta dishes and smoothies but will also keep on producing healthy leaves well into the summer months. The Premier variety of kale is recommended for this time of the year because of the rate at which it grows and the plant’s ability to deal with harsh winds. Other kale varieties will also do well in the British climate. Keep birds away with netting and pick the leaves when they are young and tender.
Love Food Hate Waste tip: To perk up limp droopy kale leaves, chop off the end of the stalk and place in cool water. Dry them out and either use straight away or store in a loosely tied bag in the fridge.
Carrots often get some bad press, but they have more uses than you might think if you think outside the box! From cakes to pies and even jams, the humble carrot can spice up any meal if it’s used the right way. Try them roasted or steamed in foil with garlic olive oil for a great complement to any dish. Carrots are so easy to grow, can be grown all year round, in containers or in a greenhouse, if you’re short on space. So there’s no excuse!
Love Food Hate Waste tip: Droopy carrots can be revived in the same way as Kale. When making bolognese sauce or shepherd’s pie, add a finely grated carrot and courgette to the mix. It’s also a pain-free method of increasing your children’s vegetable intake!
When we say beans, we don’t mean the variety you put on toast for a quick fast-food fix (although they’re good too)! We’re actually talking about the many varieties of beans that can be grown in your garden. Runner beans are one of the easiest varieties to grow, but you can also try some great winter alternatives such as the black valentine and early bountiful. Make sure your beans have great moisture and drainage. And once they’re ready, try them in enchiladas, slow-cooked soups, stews and seasonal salads.
Love Food Hate Waste tip: Limp mangetout or French beans? Trim them, wrap in kitchen paper, then wet thoroughly. Put them back inside their bag (or another plastic bag) and into the fridge. After a day, they will be lovely and crisp again and stay as sweet for a couple of days.
Cucumbers taste great when sautéed and put in a soup with avocados. They are also the perfect vegetable to pickle and add beautiful tang to burgers and hot dogs. Much like carrots, they’re delicious when cut into sticks and dipped in yoghurt or hummus. Grow your cucumbers indoors or out in the ground or in a separate potting bag. Cut them free when they are about 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) long. Cucumbers help replenish the body’s essential nutrients, thanks to their high content of B vitamins. and electrolytes.
Love Food Hate Waste tip: Put the stalk end of a cucumber in a small container of water and let stand in the fridge door. They last much longer like this. Alternatively turn them into a healthy juice such as our Cool as a well-kept cucumber.
More peas, please? These little green spheres pack a mighty punch when mixed into a pesto with mint and provide tasty crunch to curries and pasta dishes. Let your home-grown peas steal the show by adding them to salad and using them to spice up your couscous and mash potatoes. Sugar snap, mange tout and green arrow are the simplest varieties to grow. Pods need to be picked regularly so they continue to flower and will be ready once they are well filled. Make sure you use them straight away to get that freshly picked peas taste. Delicious!
Love Food Hate Waste tip: If you can’t get through them all, think about freezing them. Simply blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes and then cook rapidly in cold water. Dry and freeze. Cook straight in the microwave or drop into boiling water for a few minutes. Alternatively, blitz with some leftover cream for a tasty purée. And don’t let the pods go to waste either – try this pea pod soup – believe me it’s great!
Another vegetable that can be grown all year round. Spinach grows in popularity year after year as a real vegetable superfood! To get the best taste out of your spinach, make sure the soil you use is rich. Harvest your leaves regularly using the first young leaves for salads. Popeye’s vegetable of choice is high in iron, meaning, it’s a great energy-giving vegetable and will help you feel ready for the day. Blend it with pineapple, banana and lime juice to make a tasty breakfast smoothie.
Love Food Hate Waste tip: Store spinach in a loosely tied bag in the fridge or in a plastic tub. Whatever you do, if it’s in a bag, don’t let anything sit on top of it. Otherwise, it will turn mushy quickly. Save the stalks and stir-fry them with soy sauce, sesame seeds, and a touch of sesame oil. Make sure they’re still a bit crunchy when you take them out of the pan. A delicious side dish.
Call it rabbit food, but lettuce comes in so many different varieties you can grow almost all through the year. However, did you know that iceberg lettuce, which is the first vegetable on most people’s shopping list, is also one of the worst in terms of nutritional value? Harvest your lettuce by cutting free when a firm heart has formed in the centre. A great choice with seafood and the perfect way to garnish any meal, lettuce tastes delicious however you choose to cook it. Mix it with blue cheese, pear, avocado and pecans for a flavoursome salad.
Love Food Hate Waste tip: If you can’t pick your lettuce just before you need it (such as when your allotment is quite far away), pick and store it in a plastic pot with a piece of kitchen roll and seal. Keep in the fridge. It will last a lot longer. If the leaves are a bit limp, refresh in cold water for a few minutes or make our limp lettuce soup – it tastes a lot better than it sounds!
Cabbage is an all-season leafy vegetable that comes in wide and different varieties. Commonly prepared in salad mix or coleslaw, an ingredient in soup, and prepared as braised, steamed or boiled meal, cabbage is a vegetable garden must-have.
Coming from the Brassica family, cabbages are relatively easy to grow. During fall, prepare your soil for planting with compost and well-rotted manure. Plant the cabbage 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. They would need at least 6 hours of sun daily. When exposed to cool weather, the crop becomes frost tolerant and gives a deliciously sweet taste.
Radishes are easy to grow and even take as little as one month to mature. Although radish is normally grown during the summer for a crunchy salad mix, some of its varieties like the Mooli are perfect for winter. They can survive a light frost and makes a great choice for planting this fall.
Keep the soil moist when planting and caring for radishes to ensure that they grow more rapidly and prevent the roots from splitting. Remember to harvest them young, when they are more succulent.
Called “blood turnips” for their bright red juice, beets provide colourful roots and highly nutritious vegetable meal. There are great varieties of beets from the familiar red table to white, orange, and golden beets, storage beets and mangel beets – each with a specific growing needs and planting season.
Beets are best grown from seeds. When planting them in fall, ensure that the weather has cooled off and the soil temperature is around 50°F. They can handle a light frost but should not be exposed to too much cold.
Top Tips Before Planting This Season
- Make sure your vegetable garden is free from weeds and other flowering plants.
- Using a garden fork, turn over all the soil in your planting area and cover with 5-10cm (2-4inches) of organic top soil (leaves, compost or spare grass clippings). This will help your vegetables retain water and provide great drainage for excess moisture.
- You may need new tools, compost & containers, so make sure you have enough storage space with a garden shed.
- Watch out for insects and other pests in the garden. There are many natural remedies to help control them. Experiment with a few.
- Always check your plants regularly for signs of problems. Water and fertilise them when needed.
- If you have a greenhouse or potting shed, use it for rare days of sunshine for your vegetables that are in containers or potting bags.
- Plant now and continue to see your garden expand every season, adding new varieties of both fruit and vegetables to your growing list.
And of course, once you’ve grown this amazing veg, make sure you take action to avoid it from going to waste. According to Emma Marsh, Head of Love Food Hate Waste and a keen veg grower herself, “Last year, 1 million tonnes of good food was thrown away whole or unopened of which almost half was fresh vegetables and salads! Indeed fresh veg and salad make up 20% of all the good food thrown away from our homes and that doesn’t include things such as bones or peelings either!”
What Does Doctor Fuhrman Say?
We asked America’s favourite family nutrition doctor and New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, for his expert opinion and tips on the secrets of growing your own food. Dr. Fuhrman believes vegetables are the way forward and that everyone should eat at least one pound (456g) of raw vegetables, and another pound of cooked vegetables each day. Do this and Dr. Fuhrman promises you will stay healthy until at least the age of 95!
You can catch up with Dr. Fuhrman’s smart nutrition advice here or follow him on Twitter by clicking below…
— Joel Fuhrman, MD (@DrFuhrman) February 5, 2014
“I think it is very valuable to improve our soils with natural methods, and to grow more of our own food. I am doing the same things you suggest in the article right here in New Jersey. However, I do not recommend turning over the planting bed between seasons, but just gentle mixing in the kitchen compost, leaves and weed material with a little soil on top, so the worms are not killed. In other words, raise the edges of the planting bed and pile on the organic material. I think this gives the best results. I also have added extra worms to my beds and use water diluted with human urine on top during the winter when the beds are not in use, as a natural nitrogen replacement.
“Getting a good crop of cabbage and kale to grow before it gets too cold is great, that way you can pick for months through the winter. I also grow some great tasting winter squashes, and eat skin, flesh and toast the seeds and it supplies food way after the summer vegetables are gone.”
Danielle Nierenberg, President of global community, Food Tank and expert on sustainable agriculture and food also gave us her thoughts.
“Eating more vegetables is not only good for your health and waistline, but growing more indigenous vegetables can help build soils, improve organic matter, protect biodiversity, and keep water in soils.”
Follow Danielle on Twitter by clicking below…
The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty. pic.twitter.com/A1OEGbqe2K
— Danielle Nierenberg (@DaniNierenberg) May 14, 2014
We love to hear your thoughts! Comment below and tell us what vegetables you’re thinking of growing in your garden this season, or follow us on Twitter @GardenBuildings. For more Love Food Hate Waste tips visit their website here or follow them on Twitter by clicking below.
— Love Food Hate Waste (@LFHW_UK) August 8, 2014
— Garden Buildings (@GardenBuildings) August 7, 2014