Winter vegetables to plant now

According to the RAW Living team, April is the best time for planting winter vegetables. Here are their top tips…

It’s easy to want to hibernate in winter – we know. But let’s be honest, African winters are pretty mild on a scale of one to snowed-in.

If you put in a little work now, you’ll be able to look forward to warm home-cooked meals made with fresh ingredients from the garden.

Here are a few winter vegetables you can plant now:

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1. Broccoli

Gone are the days when boiled broccoli was just a side-thought to add some green to the plate – well for most foodies anyway.

Grilled with olive oil and sea-salt, sautéed in an Asian style stir-fry or the anchor ingredient to a four-cheese gratin, the vegetable has certainly undergone a personality change.

2. Purple sprouting

This heirloom variety might look a little wild, with its colouful florets and varying stem lengths, but once sliced and diced it all goes down the same way with just a spoonful of soya sauce or butter (if you’re following a banting diet).

A staple for many Asian dishes, you can use this baby raw in salads or cooked as a side to your main attraction. Best sown in temperatures between 10 and 20°C, space the plants 20 x 30cm apart and you can expect seeds to start germinating within seven to 14 days

3. Spring rapini

Grown in the same way as its purple cousin, this variety looks a little more like a turnip green and goes by a few names. In Italy, it’s referred to as ‘broccoli rabe‘ and in Naples as ‘friarelli‘.

We are particularly fond of the Roman version – ‘broccoletti’ – which just rolls off the tongue. But again it all tastes delicious, provided that the chef can read a recipe

4. Radishes

An edible root vegetable that is most commonly eaten raw, these seeds germinate quickly, grow rapidly and thrive in cooler temperatures.

The heads tend to begin green and turn a deep red colour with white midribs and veins at the onset of cooler temperatures – which makes for some great Instagram brag pics. It’s also useful as a companion plant as its pungent odour helps deter pests and insects

While we South Africans are comfortable with raw radishes in a salad, these guys are also pretty delicious on the braai with a nice layer of butter or oil and some salt and pepper too.

Radish watermelon, which is great in salads or cooked, is the seed to plant at this time of year as it thrives in temperatures around 20°C, as the cooler temperatures sweeten the fruit.

5. Kale

Another seed that is happiest in cooler temperatures, RAW’s Kale Vates Blue Curled seeds are a delicious mouthful.

A hardy vegetable, this varietal hails from Scotland and has fine, curled blue-green leaves (hence the name). It’s also very much ‘on fleek’ at the moment (or so we hear through the hipster grapevine). Kale is a firm favourite in many a new-age diet. From kale chips (we’re sorry, Simba!) to shakes and juices, the health benefits of kale include a good dose of vitamins A, C and K as well as helping to lower cholesterol.

A single cup, raw, contains almost seven times the daily recommended intake of Vitamin K, essential in helping the body with blood clotting.

All RAW seeds are available at selected garden centres nationwide. For more information, visit www.rawliving.co.za