Winter gardening tips from the pros

In Paris, the menu at Les Résistants will soon feature the best of what winter gardening has to offer: Azur Star Culrape ravioli with navel oranges, kakadouji cabbage, roasted buckwheat, spelette peppers, and coriander clippings—made possible thanks to a handful of passionate growers. Le Ferme des Gobettes, a farm in Normandy, produces around 100 types of vegetables for Les Résistants, without interruption due to cold weather. “In winter, nature rests,” says Thibaut Dupont, co-founder of the farm, yet there is still a lot of plant care and cultivation to be done. We spoke to Dupont, as well as two other experienced green professionals, to get his best tips for winter gardening—whether you’re after a restaurant-quality meal, castle-worthy shrubs, or just a relaxing winter hobby.

What do we plant?

When it comes to winter vegetables, DuPont said there are two categories: vegetables that are grown in the spring or summer and harvested in the winter, and those that are grown and harvested in the winter. The former category includes hardy vegetables like parsnips, turnips, radishes, celery, and everything in the cabbage family — red cabbage, white cabbage, turnips, and Brussels sprouts.

Plant cabbage in the spring and summer for a winter bounty. Frost on Brussels sprouts growing on the Lancashire Field Coast near Southport, UK
Photo: Ashley Cooper/Getty Images

After mid-September, DuPont and his team noticed they weren’t growing anything outside. “The work is more harvest and protection. For example, we put a veil on the ground to protect against the cold.”

There is a second category of growth that they continue to grow long after fall inside their greenhouse. There you’ll find lettuce, spinach, broccoli, chicory, mesclun, arugula, and “new” onions that will be ready in time for spring.

Mark Lammy, head gardener at Belvoir Castle in England, holds a diploma in horticulture from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a master’s degree in historic garden conservation and cultural landscapes from the University of Bath. Lammy, who has studied winter gardening well, explained that there is a wide range of plants suitable for cold weather, from bulbs to trees. Bulbs include winter aconite, Balkan anemone and reticulated iris. Winter gardeners interested in shrubs might consider sweet box (a dense, evergreen shrub), witch hazel (a deciduous shrub with spidery yellow to red flowers), and garnet cherry, which produces cherry-like fruit in summer and delicious yellow flowers toward the end of winter.

    (tags for translation) declare it yourself

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