What beautiful a day to get back in the garden! The sun is shining and I’d go so far as to say it is warm outside, a different story from last week’s stormy weather. The gardens have suffered with damaged trees and glasshouses but fortunately for us the polytunnel was unscathed.

Wind breaks are crucial in any vegetable plot to protect crops and garden structures. Our polytunnel is flanked on three sides by hedges which provide the perfect wind break as they are semi permeable and filter the wind. A solid barrier can actually increase turbulence.

The unseasonably mild weather combined with the wind has meant that we are watering much more frequently than we were expecting to. The wind has helped ventilate the polytunnel and keep disease such as botrytis at bay, but some of the crops are starting to bolt with the dry conditions. The first job today was to give everything a good soaking.

The following are important considerations for growing winter vegetables;

Sow vegetables from March to September to ensure plants are big enough to cope with cold but are still in a juvenile state when winter arrives. These young plants will effectively lie dormant until spring when they will grow on again to fill the “hungry gap”. Try kale, cabbage, and winter salads; or oriental greens such as pak choi and chopsuey greens.

Winter crops may need protection, we have our polytunnel but there are lots of other ways to look after your crop;

  • Brushwood placed over crops reduces the effect of wind and has been shown to help crops survive.
  • Cloches help keep vegetables dry and out of the wind, try a 2 litre plastic bottle cut in half.
  • Covering plants with fleece in the winter insulates them and keeps them alive.