There is a certain charm to growing your own vegetables, and eating veggies grown in your garden. Read on to find out about five winter vegetables you can grow easily in your own backyard in the coming cold months.
India has amazing weather when it comes to agriculture. We have sunlight throughout the year, and that is a wonderful thing. Food production can happen throughout the year, with the exception of a few crops. For every weather condition, we have a certain set of crops that thrive well. Here is a list of five vegetables that can be grown successfully this winter.
Spinach / Swiss Chard
Spinach is not new to us. From palak paneer to Spinach sandwich, this healthy green is everywhere. Spinach is one of the most nutritious crops that we use very commonly, and is also a cold-weather crop. That doesn’t mean you cannot grow spinach in the summer months, but in the winters, the plants grow quite well.
Swiss chard is spinach’s cousin that is comparatively second in its nutrition content. But for what it lacks in nutrition, it makes up for in yield. Swiss chard is a leafy green crop that grows well in the cold weather. The best part about it is that it is very attractive visually and comes in many colors. Veggies with colors are said to have a pigment called Anthocyanin that is supposed to be healthy.
There are yellow, pink, bright red, green, and white colored Swiss chards. If you’re wondering how to cook them,you can cook them just like regular spinach.
Swiss chard grows well in containers and can grow for a long time, producing extended period of harvest. Spinach and Swiss chard seeds look very much alike, as they belong to the same family. They can be sown directly in a container or on the ground. Continuous harvest of Swiss chard is guaranteed if you know how to grow swiss chard.
Lettuce, a staple in every salad, has many varieties and comes in many shapes, textures, and colours. It needs cool weather to thrive, and this is the right time to get it started. Lettuce is started from seeds, which are smaller compared to other seeds. They should be sown just below the surface, barely covered by soil. Lettuce needs the temperature to be between 18° and 24°C. The regular lettuce we find in burgers is Iceberg lettuce; unfortunately, that has the least nutrition content when compared to other varieties. The varieties to try are Lollo rosso, Butter head lettuce, and Romaine lettuce. Lettuce leaves are best harvested when they are tender. More mature leaves tend to be bitter and will be stretchy.
Lettuce can handle moderate light or partial shade, so feel free to grow them in your balcony. Then next time you want a salad, don’t buy, just pluck!
Broccoli & Cauliflower
There is plenty of evidence for why broccoli is such a highly nutritious vegetable. Unfortunately, it is also subjected to heavy application of pesticides to keep worms and pests away, similar to cauliflower. By growing these vegetables at home, you can ensure you are growing them without the application of pesticides, and also organically.
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Broccoli is a 2.5-3 month crop. So if you start sowing now, you should get your harvest by January-February. Broccoli can be grown both on the ground or in a container. If you live in an apartment, a container is a better choice. A container of 12″ diameter and 12″ depth is an ideal choice. Use a lightweight potting soil to fill up the container. A Broccoli plant will take 3-4 sq. ft. of space, so plant only one per container.
Kale enjoys a premium position as a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients. Be it stir fry, salad or juice. Kale has become a favorite for all the health-conscious people very quickly.
Growing kale is very easy, and the kale plant does not require a lot of maintenance. Like broccoli, kale too can be successfully grown in a container. Its leaves can be harvested two months after you plant it. By just harvesting few leaves at a time, the kale plants can continue to grow and yield for a long time.
Strawberries are fun to grow, and if you grow them at home, a competition is guaranteed on who gets to eat them. Growing strawberries at home can be very rewarding. Not only they are easy to grow, they also yield very quickly.
Strawberry plants are started from runners. Runners are special stems that come out of an existing plant and produce a new plant at their tip. The tip, when placed on the ground, will start producing roots and shoots, and later can be separated into an individual plant. Strawberry plants can be grown very successfully in a container. If the container is big, one can grow many plants in the same container.
Strawberries can also be started from seeds. Strawberry seeds are those that are found on the sides of the fruit. Growing them from seeds can take a little more time than planting them using runners, hence runners are always preferred. You can also purchase a plant from your local nursery.
As an added bonus Sugar peas are the sixth veggie you can grow this winter. You might wonder what a sugar pea is. Sugar pea is just like green peas, except that you can eat the pod too. The pod along with the peas are eaten and they taste very sweet. Sugar peas are a good snack and need no cooking – they can be eaten right off the plant.
Sugar peas can be grown in a container or on the ground. It is a cool weather crop and thrives well in this time of the year. Sow the seeds directly into the final container. For a container of 1′ depth and 1′ diameter, 2-3 plants of sugar peas can be sown. Sowing seeds correctly is important for getting good results. The plants can be harvested as soon as the pods start to thicken. The pods taste very sweet and so do the peas.
So go, get your hands dirty this winter and start growing these veggies. These are just a starting point – feel free to explore further.
Interested in all vegetables that grow during winter? Check the sowing calendar for India.