29 Nov 2016

Vegetables despite winter frosts

Ardd Fotaneg · Botanic Garden

At the Garden we are continuing to harvest and to plant up empty plots. The growing season may have stopped for some seasonal gardeners. But in the Growing the Future Garden we are growing vegetables that can brace themselves against winter frosts.

As horticultural trainer I am hardening off Matthew our latest apprentice like a good strong winter Brassica. There is no putting feet up on a warm radiator to browse through seed catalogues. As the weather changes so does our choice of vegetables.

Hardy Brassicas

Spring cabbage, purple cauliflower, and purple sprouting brocoli are hardy Brassicas that can withstand the winter cold or rain. We have already planted them in the Growing the Future Garden. They will provide fresh vegetables come spring before many of next year’s vegetables have even been planted.

Long gone are the courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers, but Matthew and I are still harvesting greens, roots and leeks. Produce from the Growing the Future garden this week include roots such as parsnip, beetroot and oca (Oxalis tuberosa). Greens including kale, chard and parsley are also plentiful. Rich in vitamin C they help to ward of colds .

Crop Rotation

As the plots have emptied Matthew and I have replanted them. We have planted winter hardy varieties to feed us early in the following season. In the crop rotation beds the Solanaceae and Cucurbitaceae plants (potatoes and courgettes) have gone. They have been replaced by next year’s crop of Amaryllidaceae and Fabaceae plants (garlic, onions, peas and beans).

We have planted garlic ‘Picardy Wight’. Other good varieties we have grown here at the Garden include ‘Vallelado’ and ‘Early Purple Wight’. We have also planted broad beans ‘Super Aquadulce’. Many visitors argue it’s not worth bothering with autumn sown broad beans. I disagree, it is worth it if only to have something planted in the soil. It can provide winter protection to the soil. It is also a nitrogen fixing plant and useful in crop rotations and managing soil fertility.

In the green house

Don’t leave your green house empty. After removing the summer crops Matthew diligently gave our greenhouse a thorough clean. Citrox is a citrus based disinfectant perfect for the environmentally friendly gardener. Matthew replanted the greenhouse border with hardy leaf vegetables lettuce ‘Brune d’ Hiver’ and spinach ‘Matador’.

No matter what time of year you visit the Garden there is always something to see and learn. The garden is stunning on a frosty winter day. Wrap up warm and enjoy the Garden all year round.