How to Grow Winter Vegetables shows that it is possible to enjoy an abundance of vegetables at the darkest time of year, whether stored or ready for harvesting when needed. It also covers growing for the ‘hungry gap’ from April to early June.
Not much grows in winter, but a well-organised plot may nonetheless be quite full. You need to plan carefully, and well ahead (as early as spring) for sowing and planting at specific times through the year, so the main part of the book is an extensive month-by-month sowing, planting and growing calendar. Further sections cover harvesting, from garlic in July right through to the last of the overwintered greens in May, and storing your produce.
Many salads can be grown in winter, especially with a little protection from fleece, cloches or larger structures. The book includes a whole section on frost-hardy salad plants, explaining how to ensure harvests of fresh leaves throughout winter. The beauty of winter and its produce is captured in glorious photographs from the author’s garden.
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PART 1 Winter’s potential
Chapter 1 A forgotten season
Chapter 2 A winter’s scene
PART 2 Preparing for winter
Chapter 3 Looking after your soil
Chapter 4 Making your own compost
Chapter 5 What to grow for winter
Chapter 6 Tips for sowing & planting
PART 3 Sowing, planting & growing calendar
Chapter 7 Sowing & planting in spring
Chapter 8 Sowing & planting in early summer
Chapter 9 Sowing & planting in late summer & autumn
PART 4 Winter harvests
Chapter 10 Winter harvests calendar
Chapter 11 Winter & hungry gap vegetables A–Z
PART 5 Stored harvests
Chapter 12 Principles of storing for winter
Chapter 13 Vegetables for winter storage A–Z
PART 6 Winter vegetables under cover
Chapter 14 Under-cover growing
Chapter 15 An amazing array of vegetables
"This fabulous book is ideal for those seeking to extend their basic knowledge and experience."
"Charles Dowding is an incomparable guide to the exhilarating, frustrating and downright addictive nature of growing salads and vegetables in the garden or allotment. [...] This gloriously practical and inspiring book is full of good photographs, and is handsomely produced in full colour by Green Books."
"Whether you have years of gardening experience or are just at the novice stage there is so much to learn from this excellent book. It is a very well illustrated book with some wonderful colour photographs and will make an excellent reference book in your gardening library."
"An invaluable book, intelligent of course, and inspiring too."
“I suppose it was time that the secret was let out. Winter is really a wonderful time to garden. Sure there are dark days and wet days but there are also many brilliant, clear crisp days when being out in the garden is a wonderful prospect. With Charles’s advice at hand you can be sure that there also be plenty to eat too from winter salads to sweet parsnips, this not a period to go hungry in.
Spring may bring with it much needed light and warmer weather, but it can be a very hungry period. As Charles says, winter can cast a very long shadow, but with this book, the right preparation and a little work you can still be eating plenty.
Our British weather is fickle and not a little uncertain, but it does allow a year of growing and eating. Charles’ book is a paean to our weather, climate and soil. It celebrates all that is good about growing year round and I guarantee that you’ll actually look forward to winter after this read.”
"This book opens up a needlessly neglected and wonderful part of gardening - winter with your own vegetables is a much better place to be. Charles's book is a comprehensive, practical and inspiring guide.”
Charles Dowding is a veteran organic grower, having practised no-dig gardening for 30 years. From 1982 to 1990 he grew on nine acres for local and London markets, then ran a small farm in France, followed by a long spell of producing salad on an acre of surface-composted, undisturbed clay soil (no-dig for 15 years), which grew bountiful crops and few weeds, and included two polytunnels for winter salad and summer tomatoes and basil. In this garden he ran an experiment for six years to compare differences in growth between vegetables on dug and undug soil. He discovered different patterns of growth in most seasons, with slightly lower yields and more weeds and slugs on the dug beds. He is currently establishing a new half-acre garden to illustrate no-dig practice and form the basis for a new experiment.
Charles has written four books on vegetable growing, contributes articles to many magazines, including Gardeners’ World, Gardens Illustrated and Grow It!, gives regular talks, advises many gardeners on best practice, including the National Trust at Sissinghurst, and runs day courses at home and other venues. He has appeared on radio and television, including Radio 4’s The Long View on the Peckham Experiment and BBC TV’s Gardeners’ World with Sarah Raven in 2008.
His books for Green Books are:
Organic Gardening: the natural, no-dig way
Salad Leaves for All Seasons
How to Grow Winter Vegetables
Find out more at www.charlesdowding.co.uk.
Photo: Stephanie Hafferty