The successes and failures of two wannabe homesteaders in the UK..

What are we growing at the moment and over winter?


I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't like to wait months on end to get back into the garden to grow things. I even grow plants in the winter that I'm not even that keen on - just because I want to grow, I want to learn and like my garden to look alive.

This year, to make the most of anything I do grow, I have been relying mostly on large pots this year so that I can transport crops and flowers to our new home.

So here is a list of what's growing at our home right now, why I grow it, and how its getting on.

indoor grow lights


I always overwinter a couple of these so that I can harvest seeds the following year. Plus the red in the leaves make a beautiful contrast amongst other plants.


I haven't had a lot of luck with broccoli in the past but this year I am trying purple sprouting broccoli. Fingers crossed..


Ok, so I'm not actually growing brussels this year, but I should be. Last year I grew Brussel sprouts for the first time and they did really well. I'm not sure what happened this year..

indoor grow lights


I only have a couple of cabbages growing at the moment (which should be ready for spring) because (a) I only have room to plant a handful (we are not big lovers of cabbage anyway) and (b) the caterpillars destroyed most of mine because yet again, I did not protect them with a net. Why do I always convince myself that I can keep on top of them?


I will continue to harvest carrots over winter and leave some to go to flower so that I can harvest the seeds.


Now, I'm not sure if it's just me, but whenever I plant celery in the Spring, it simply doesn't mature enough before winter to actually harvest it. It does seem to be able to survive our winters in the South East of England and does suddenly take off in the autumn. Perhaps I'm just not transplanting it into the larger pots sooner enough.


Now, I have read that you can keep chard growing outdoors in winter but mine didn't look like they were doing so well so I brought them into the garage and put them under my grow lights. They seem happier here and are doing well. I don't eat much chard but its said to contain high levels of vitamin A and K and is said to reduce blood pressure and help to combat cancer, so I figured if I have some to hand, maybe I will start using it. Hasn't worked yet though I might add..


This is another crop I find difficult to get much of a yield from before it starts to get colder. I don't have a polytunnel or a greenhouse (yet) which I'm sure would make a big difference. I tried to overwinter last years chillies and peppers outside - but they died. Of course they did. Not sure why I thought they wouldn't. This year I'm still growing them over winter, but indoors under lights. I'm still harvesting chillies from one of the plants today which I given they are only about 1 cm long, I'm not sure I should be bragging about..

indoor grow lights


Most of my herbs are doing really well at the moment, with many of them surviving last winter. My oregano, marjoram, sage, bay, peppermint, parsley, chives and rosemary are all 2 - 3 years old now and are still doing great. Some of these do die back in the winter, but they are quick to return in the spring. My new additions this year: lemon balm, borage, comfrey and chamomile are still looking really healthy although I expect they wont survive the frosts that we get in the UK. Some should hopefully grow back next year. I've also got some basil and coriander (cilantro) still growing indoors under lights - it hasn't survived our winters in the past so I thought I'd try it indoors. So far so good. I love growing herbs because they are easy, they make the garden smell good, the flowers are pretty and they make great companion plants for fruit and veg crops. They didn't however, stop the cabbage moth from laying her eggs on my cabbages.. .

indoor grow lights


We don't eat many leeks, but leek and potato soup on bonfire (Burns) night always goes down well and I love the look of them when they are in flower. They seem to much prefer the cold weather and I can harvest from them up until end of April most years.


As long as you can keep your lemon tree warm, is should keep it's leaves and fruit. Every year about this time, my lemon tree comes to live in doors. I did play around the first couple of years after I purchased it, by bringing it in and out when frosts were due, as well as covering it with fleece, but it wasn't until the first year that I kept it in the whole winter, that it was finally able to keep and grow its fruits. It's doing brilliant at the moment with about 20 lemons, almost ready to pick. The only things I have added to it this year, is potash, chicken manure, pine needles and marigolds. When we move to our new home, I may brave trying it in a green house next winter..


I seem to have more luck with lettuce late autumn than I do in spring. It doesn't seem to do much here in the spring and summer, but as soon as it starts getting colder, it's off. Last year I managed to keep several lettuces over winter outside and was harvesting them in February. Currently I have plenty of lettuce both outside in pots as well as indoors in pots - various varieties. I'm experimenting to see which do better over winter - I will update next Feb!

indoor grow lights


I'm not a lover of kale but it looks lovely in the garden, can survive up to -6 degrees Celsius and is super healthy. I just need to find a way to sneak it into our diets..


This is my third year growing parsnips which is interesting seeing as they are very rarely eaten in my household! They do grow well in cold climates though and keep my garden looking green and healthy. We have harvested and eaten most of the them now, smothered in honey and roasted, but there is still a couple growing away which we will have for Christmas (if we are still here). These were planted in a large planter, in a sunny spot against the back wall of our garden. I've been growing 'white gem' variety and they seem to be particularly pest resistant.


So this is a bit of an experiment. If chillies can be grown over a number of years - perhaps peppers can too. There seems to be mixed views on this so I have got numerous varieties growing under lights in my garage to see if I can keep them going over winter

indoor grow lights


I only have one more pot of potatoes left to harvest. I'm pretty sure they are ready now, but I'm trying to leave them a little longer. I never grow enough of these - we love potatoes but they take up a lot of room. In our new home, I am hoping we will have enough space to grow enough of them to last us several months.


I have just planted some spinach today which I am planning to initially keep indoors and plant out later in the winter when we move into our new home.

Spring onions

- I try to grow salad onions all year round. I have a few in my garden now ready to harvest, and some baby ones about 3-4 inches tall in my garage under lights. They can be grown most of the year round and they take up next top no space. They even like being bunched together. My biggest problem is currently the chickens who seem to nab them when they are young - hence the current batch being indoors.


I keep my normal strawberries going for about 4 years (apparently they are not so good after this point) and take runners off them every year to start off new plants. I have also planted wild (alpine) strawberries this year and am looking forward to having berries all summer long - even if they will be ultra small!


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