There’s no way round it, lockdown was awful. For work, education, our health and our pockets. But the festive season is upon us and we’re full of good cheer, so let’s be jolly. Team Quattro had a fascinating chat about the many wonderful habits we developed in the absence of travel or socialising during those long months. From bracing country walks to daily yoga on Zoom, those of us who could, embraced our enforced ‘home time’. And those of us lucky enough to have gardens appreciated our private green spaces like never before. The pandemic boosted gardening’s popularity amongst Brits, and those with allotments? We were privileged to be able to dodge the supermarket delivery slot fiasco by growing our own fresh produce.
The team at Quattro was no exception. We produced many of our favourite fruit, veg and salads, and showed them off proudly to colleagues over Zoom as our green fingers flourished. But is our love of homegrown veg here to stay? Or have we sprinted back to the supermarket without a backward glance? And how on earth are we supposed to grow anything in these cold, sunless winter days? Winter allotments are more popular than you’d imagine, and Team Quattro has been exploring the best veg to grow in winter, or to sow in August and reap the rewards a few months later.
Get your wellies on and get those sweet onions, fragrant garlic bulbs, and hearty broad beans into the ground as late as November and watch with joy as they grow despite the weather. There are many robust vegetables that are adept at shrugging off the worst of the ice and wind. Remember the roots are protected from frost and ice, and these are often the best bits to eat.
Here are some of our favourite veg to grow in winter:
- Brussels sprouts
- Purple sprouting broccoli
We highly recommend celeriac served as a purée with roast meat or grilled fish, or chicory roasted or added raw to salads. Or cabbage to add crunch to salads or sandwiches or cooked long and slow with sweet fruit puree, vinegar and a pinch of salt for the perfect accompaniment to the main event at Christmas lunch.
Looking for a couple of winter allotment tips? We’re no experts but we’re happy to offer some advice from our limited experience.
- Cover your parsnips with leaves or straw and when you come to dig them out the ground shouldn’t be frozen solid.
- Harvest sprouts from the bottom up, keep the leafy tops intact and use them in a warming winter soup.
- Many crops do well at low temperature – around 5 to 10 degrees C is usually best, but make sure you dig them out before the frost comes as freezing causes irreversible damage.
So, don’t relegate your winter garden to the ‘not at the moment’ list. Make the most of the precious daylight hours and find veg that thrive when it’s cold. And enjoy that piping hot pie on a cosy night in. We told you it was worth the effort.