10 of the best winter crops

Lettuce 'Winter Gem' growing in a metal container

A surprising amount of salad and veg crops can be grown over the winter for fresh, tasty pickings.

The trick is to get them going before the cold weather sets in, sowing from late summer to mid-autumn. Check out these winter veg crops to sow in August.

If you have an unheated greenhouse, polytunnel or even a cold frame, you can make the most of it during the winter months to protect your crops to get more reliable results and bigger pickings. Discover seven projects for a winter greenhouse.

It’s a good idea to have a roll of fleece and some cloches to hand, too. Hardy crops are unlikely to be killed even on the coldest nights, but they can help maintain the quality of the roots and leaves for eating.

Take a look at organic veg grower and no-dig pioneer Charles Dowding’s five favourite winter vegetables and five top tips for growing winter veg.

10 of the best winter crops to grow


Spring onions

A useful addition to stir-fries and salads, spring onions have a strong flavour when grown under cover in winter. Try varieties such as ‘Tokyo Long White’ or ‘White Lisbon’, which both grow well in the cool, short days of winter.

When to sow: October

Harvesting spring onions


Winter lettuce

Winter lettuce is a real treat in the depths of winter. Varieties such as ‘Winter Gem’, ‘Winter Density’ and ‘Meraviglia d’Iverno’ are more succulent when grown with some extra protection from a cold frame or greenhouse. Find out how to grow winter salad.

When to sow: September to October

Lettuce ‘Winter Gem’ growing in a metal container


Mibuna and mizuna

Leafy Japanese crops such as mibuna and mizuna are hardy enough to grow outdoors over winter, but produce more leaves to pick with the extra protection of a cold greenhouse. Watch Monty Don’s video guide to sowing mizuna, mibuna, Chinese mustard and rocket for winter.

When to sow: August to October

A row of mizuna



Leafy and succulent, Swiss chard is surprisingly resilient to cold weather and will produce even better pickings under glass. Try ‘Charlotte’, ‘Lucullus’ or ‘Rainbow’. You can use the stalks as a separate vegetable from the spinach-like leaves. Discover how to grow Swiss chard.

When to sow: July and August

Swiss chard growing in a pot


Sprouting broccoli

Purple-sprouting broccoli is extremely hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as -12°C. Sow in March to harvest in early winter, or from April to mid-June for harvesting from January to May. Find out how to grow purple sprouting broccoli.

When to sow: March to mid-June

Purple-sprouting brocoli


Pak choi

Benefiting from cooler growing conditions, which prevent it from running to seed, pak choi is useful in stir-fries. Sow thickly and use the thinnings in salads. Any variety will do and the purple-leaved ones are enhanced by cool weather. Find out how to grow pak choi.

When to sow: August to October

Harvesting pak choi



These bulbous vegetables are perfect for adding to soups and for bulking out stews. Watch this video for advice on how to grow turnips from seed.

When to sow: April to August

A turnip ready to harvest



A delicious side dish or stirred through a creamy pasta sauce with plenty of garlic. Kale responds to having its leaves removed by growing more, providing plenty of repeat harvests.

When to sow: March to July

Kale ‘Black Tuscany’



Celeriac can be used as a purée or to serve with roast meat. It’s an easy crop to grow that’ll perform well, even in poor summers. Protect from the worst weather with fleece or cloches. Find out how to grow celeriac.

When to sow: March to April

Celeriac corms


Brussels sprouts

Love them or hate them, a Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without some buttery Brussels sprouts. Once planted, make sure they’re firmed in well to avoid windrock.

When to sow: February to April

Brussels sprouts ready to harvest


Clean your greenhouse

It’s crucial to clean your greenhouse, polytunnel or coldframe in autumn before you grow anything in it over the winter. It lessens the chance of any pests and diseases lurking in nooks and crannies, and ensures that maximum light can enter. Find out how to clean your greenhouse.

Cold frame



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