4 Dec 2011

Walking in a winter wonderland

The veg patch in early December.  As mentioned in yesterday's post, the slow onset of wintry weather has been kind to my veg garden (if not to me - I'm suffering with the beginnings of a winter cold today).

December strawberry
As seen on 2nd December - the last strawberry of the year?
Looking back to this time last year, it seems that I'd run out of things to say (!) and had suspended blogging activity. That probably means that all was quiet on the veg front and I remember that I didn't grow any veg through the winter - even my garlic and onion sets were planted out in the spring.  I recall heavy snowfall over south east England making it challenging to get to a family christening in Kent in early December.  I managed to drive there but was amazed at the sight of snow drifts in Central London and the Kent countryside under a blanket of thick snow!  This year is different.  My chilly, sunny, "winter" walk around the veg garden on Friday showed my echinacea (and primulas) flowering; if that wasn't crazy enough, I also found this just blushing strawberry (a one off feast for the slugs, I expect).

In the herb bed, fresh herbs are still available: sage, parsley, oregano, lemon thyme, fennel.  Nice to be able to put off buying fresh herbs in the shops, although most home-grown herbs can be dried, or frozen in ice cubes, for use in soups and stews throughout the winter. I should really make time to do this.

December Herb collage
Clockwise from top left: sage, fennel, rosemary, oregano with thyme at back
A few other edible treats are keeping the garden alive:  chioggia beetroot, just a couple of sweetcorn cobs (yes, still!), horseradish root (really must dig all this up this year - it's a spreader and will regrow from the smallest root; I want to grow it in very large pots next year as it's a magnificent sight, very structural, but the roots can go very, very deep!) and, hopefully, a few Vivaldi and Charlotte spuds. The potatoes seem to have resprouted after I thought I'd emptied the tub in the summer.  Apparently I overlooked a tuber or two.  I've left them to grow because, well, you never know ... !

December Ready to eat collage
Clockwise from top left: sweetcorn, beetroot, potatoes, horseradish
And that's not all - this year I have my winter veg to look forward to!  I'm hoping for a few Tozer (purple) brussels sprouts before christmas (they're tiny at the moment) then, providing the weather isn't too severe, I'm looking forward to cauliflowers, kale and more sprouts in the springtime.  On a whim in early October, I bought some brassica seedlings then didn't have time to plant them out (this coincided with visits to my mum in hospital).  Not to waste a perfectly good plant, I've popped them into raised beds that I'd previously topped up with well-rotted horse muck or compost and we'll just have to hope for the best. All being well, this will give me some spring cabbages and PSB next year - and I also have a big box of seeds to think about over the coming months.  The winter doesn't seem so long when you still have veg growing!


  1. Hope your cold doesn't come to much. At least you'll get it over with before Christmas. It really is a contrast to this time last year when most of the country was under snow. I've just sown another batch of micro greens. Its nice at this time of year to still be able to sow something and watch the seeds sprout and it won't be long before we're all chitting our potatoes.

  2. You've done really well to still have plenty of veg left for winter - I am always surprised when other blogs say they have dug all their ground over for winter - I don't have any ground spare yet, except for the pumpkin patch.

  3. Wellywoman, thanks for the sympathy! I'm drinking lots of hot lemon, honey and ginger drinks in the hope of warding off the cold. I'm not good at being laid up when there's work to be done!

    Elaine, I'd have planted up the pumpkin patch as well except I planted mine under the cherry trees and I have to move one of them! I'm trying to plan where to put my veg next year (crop rotation and all that), it's going to need some careful planning!

  4. I hope you haven't spoken too soon, it's turned really cold here (though we still haven't had a frost), and we had a little snow flurry this morning, though thankfully, it didn't come to anything. The pavements were slippy when I took the dog for his walk though. I've got lots more veg overwintering this year than I did last year, I'm hoping to have plenty of veggies to see me through winter. Thank you for enterning my giveaways.

  5. The difference between last year and this couldn't be more pronounced! Of everything that you've got growing it's the sweetcorn that really surprises me.
    Anyway make the most of it all because it does look like winter is on the way. Flighty xx

  6. @JoI'm always amazed at the difference just a few hours drive can make to the British weather. It's cold here today but the sun is struggling to put in an appearance. Hope the snow holds off for your dog walks - and to give our winter veg a chance of survival. I look forward to reading how you get on!

  7. @flightplot
    Flighty, the sweetcorn is surprising you and me both! Hasn't it been cold today? I can believe that we'll be plunged into winter very suddenly any day now!

  8. Sweetcorn?! I'm off to the plot tomorrow to see if I can pick some beetroot, and to check on the "progress" of my own tiny red sprouts, but I said farewell to the sweetcorn weeks and weeks ago. Strange weather.

  9. @Janet/Plantaliscious
    I think the sweetcorn is a rare oddity and will probably never flourish this late in the year again!! We've had a frost overnight on the rooftops so it seems winter isn't far off. Hope your beetroot and sprouts are faring well. Caro x


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