Top 10 Winter Vegetables in the UK

Wicker basket full of onions

There's still plenty to sow and harvest in the vegetable patch during winter
Image: Onion 'Troy' from Thompson & Morgan

Here you’ll find our top 10 favourite winter vegetables to grow outdoors or under glass during the colder months of the year. Easy to grow and highly versatile, onions, shallots and garlic lead the way, establishing themselves over winter to produce a delicious crop next summer. Find out which other crops make our fiercely contested list, or browse our winter vegetable seeds category for inspiration...

1. Onions and shallots

Shallot 'Griselle' (autumn planting) from Thompson & Morgan

Griselle shallots have a sweet flavour that's ideal for pickling
Image: Shallot 'Griselle' (autumn planting) from Thompson & Morgan

Autumn-planting onions and shallots go into the ground in September and October. They require little space and virtually look after themselves over the winter. Onion sets planted in autumn are ready to be harvested the following summer, so just remember they’ll still be in the ground when you start planting in spring. 

Onions 'Troy' and ‘Centurion’ are popular varieties that produce bulbs with uniform pale flesh, tan skins, and good flavour. An excellent, cold-tolerant, red variety, ‘Electric’ has shiny red skin and blush-tinted flesh. 

Shallot 'Jermor' holds an RHS Award of Garden Merit and is sometimes referred to as a ‘banana’ shallot because of the elongated shape of the bulb. It’s popular for its very sweet flavour and pretty pink tinge.

2. Garlic

Garlic 'Carcassonne Wight' from Thompson & Morgan

Hardneck garlic will happily overwinter in the UK
Image: Garlic 'Carcassonne Wight' from Thompson & Morgan

Garlic sets are one of the easiest things you can grow over the winter. Simply plant autumn-planting varieties in fertile soil, then mulch, keep moist and harvest in summer. 

If you live in a very cold part of the UK, there are plenty of hardneck varieties that cope well with more severe winter conditions. ‘Extra Early Wight’ is a delicious hardneck that crops very early in the season in late May. And if you live in a milder area, 'Cledor' is a softneck with excellent flavour. For something a bit different, try growing giant 'Elephant Garlic' to provide a gently flavoured accompaniment to roasts. Just pop a few whole bulbs into the tray with your meat or veg.

3. Spring onions

Group of spring onions

Home grown spring onions make a welcome addition to the winter kitchen
Image: Spring Onion 'Feast' F1 Hybrid - Seeds from Thompson & Morgan

Winter hardy varieties of spring onion make a tasty addition to salads, stir fries and buttery new potatoes. Sow your spring onion seeds in early autumn, and your outdoor crop will be ready to harvest in early spring. 

Spring Onion 'White Lisbon' is a popular, fast-maturing and reliably winter hardy variety with an RHS Award of Garden Merit. If you want long white stems that don’t ‘bunch’ at the base, try ‘Totem’. And for a bit of colour, try growing the attractive red ‘Apache’ under cloches.

4. Perpetual spinach

Spinach 'Perpetual' from Thompson & Morgan

Keep picking fresh spinach throughout the coldest months of the year
Image: Spinach 'Perpetual' from Thompson & Morgan

Sow perpetual spinach seeds successively throughout the autumn and winter for a continuous supply of tasty 'cut and come again' leaves. Regular harvesting will keep your spinach cropping well into spring! Be sure to remove the flowers to prevent your plants running to seed, and remember to keep the soil moist.

5. Broad beans

Broad bean 'Bunyards Exhibition' from Thompson & Morgan

Broad beans are a perfect crop to grow over winter
Image: Broad bean 'Bunyards Exhibition' from Thompson & Morgan

If you sow hardy varieties of broad bean seeds between November and March, the seedlings can be planted out over the winter ready to produce an extra early crop in May. ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is one of the best varieties for autumn sowings, being particularly hardy and quick to establish. Once your plants are mature in early spring, you can harvest the plant tips as an extra crop - they’re delicious wilted with a little butter. Alternatively, sow seeds in February using varieties like ‘Witkiem’ and ‘Bunyard’s Exhibition’ for summer cropping.

6. Peas

Pea 'Kelvedon Wonder' from Thompson & Morgan

Pea seedlings will overwinter happily in a sheltered area
Image: Photos Horticultural

Enjoy an extra early crop next spring by sowing your pea seeds in autumn. Sow 'Kelvedon Wonder', 'Meteor', and ‘Avola’ in October and November, and overwinter the seedlings under cloches or under cover. You’ll be the envy of the allotment when you start harvesting peas three or four weeks earlier than other growers!

7. Asparagus

Asparagus 'Mondeo' from Thompson & Morgan

Plant asparagus crowns in autumn to establish during the winter months
Image: Asparagus 'Mondeo' from Thompson & Morgan

Create a permanent asparagus bed this autumn for a delicacy that’s well worth your time and effort. Planting your asparagus crowns in warm autumn soil will give them a head start establishing over winter. Just remember to mulch well. Try the reliable all-male variety 'Gijnlim' or the colourful and stringless variety 'Pacific Purple'. Although asparagus beds take several years to establish, each asparagus crown can produce up to 25 spears per year and will continue cropping for up to 25 years!

8. Salad

Salad leaves 'The Good Life Mix' from Thompson & Morgan

Sow salad seeds continuously throughout the winter for fresh leaves
Image: Salad leaves 'The Good Life Mix' from Thompson & Morgan

Salads aren’t just for summer! Sow salad seeds for tasty and nutritious 'cut and come again' leaves throughout the entire winter. You can grow mixed leaf collections like 'Frilly Mixed' undercover all year round. Plant rows of lambs lettuce ‘Favor’, land cress, and ‘Oriental Mustards’ alongside to add a spicy, peppery flavour to your winter meals. For large, crisp whole heads of lettuce, sow hardy 'All The Year Round' under cloches in the veg patch.

9. Carrots

Carrot 'Resistafly' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Get ahead with your carrots by making winter sowings
Image: Carrot 'Resistafly' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

For an exceptionally early crop in spring, sow your carrot seeds directly outside in rows through November and December to grow on under cloches. Sowing carrots near your winter onions and garlic will mask their sweet scent and deter carrot fly from your crop! Remember to thin your seedlings to encourage a harvest with bigger roots. ‘Adelaide’ is a fast-maturing variety, producing a deliciously crunchy and sweet crop. 

10. Pak Choi

Pak Choi 'Green' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Eat your winter grown pak choi steamed, stir fried, or raw in a salad
Image: Pak Choi 'Green' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

This dual-purpose oriental vegetable can be harvested young throughout the winter as individual salad leaves, or allowed to mature for the succulent stems to be chopped into stir fries. Pak choi 'Tri Color Mix’ is quick to mature, and packed full of the healthy vitamins A and C as well as calcium, iron and folic acid. Although it’s often grown as a summer crop, pak choi excels when sown in late summer for transplanting undercover in autumn.

We hope that our selection of top 10 winter vegetables inspires you to fill your beds, borders, and containers through the winter months. For expert growing advice and guides covering on all different types of brassicas, head to our hub page. Share your own winter veg with us using the hashtag #YourTMGarden on Twitter and Instagram.


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