Although it seems very cold during the winters, especially in north India, there are a few vegetable plants in India that need this kind of weather to grow and flourish. Among the best veggies to grow in winters in India are cauliflower, beetroot, broccoli, and green peas. The temperature in the chilly months – November till February or March may go as low as 10 degrees Celsius in many parts of India. Since we get lazy with the low temperatures, we tend to eat more.
Is there any better way to enjoy this laziness than having greens from your own backyard?
We call winter the king of seasons because of the most stunning flowers in its basket, the best of veggies, and stunning fruits. If you are a garden enthusiast and love your toes dipped in it, winter is the best bet, except when you live high in the mountains.
Winter is also a great season to start gardening with seeds and plant your garden to meet your needs for both regular and exotic foods. With this article, Nelda is bringing you a variety of vegetables you can grow in winter in your backyard or terrace garden in India. Further, we have mentioned specifications about soil, water, fertilizers, and pest control to use while you grow your veggie garden.
Let’s have a look at some of the best vegetables that can be grown in the chilly winter season in India.
Capsicum (Bell Pepper)
Capsicum is a popular variety of what we know locally as Simla Mirch. Simla Mirch is widely consumed all over India, but Bell Pepper on the other hand is a coloured variety of capsicum. These plants are planted on raised beds for around four weeks after the seeds are sowed in seeding trays. Capsicum plants need plenty of sunlight; however, cultivation is successful when grown under green shade. Capsicum is delicate and susceptible to diseases. Harvesting can start 70-80 days after seed sowing.
Cauliflower is a popular vegetable of the cabbage family. Seeds are first sown in beds or trays under normal shade. Healthy seedlings are then transplanted to raised beds after 30 or 35 days. Plants need a chilly climate and full sunlight to grow big cauliflower heads. After 80 to 90 days of transplantation, cauliflower curd is seen. Cauliflower may have problems like early flowering or no curd or buttoning (small heads which we can’t consume) if there are unfavorable conditions. Quality seed, proper season, the cool and moist atmosphere around the vegetable is necessary.
Spinach is widely used as a leafy vegetable for its nutritional value. It’s easy to grow and readily available. Spinach does great in a cool climate, and full sunlight or partial shade can be good as well. Seeds are sown in raised beds. Harvesting greens can be achieved in 30 days of seed sowing. Only 3 gms of seeds can be enough per 100 sq. ft. area.
Enjoy this Marathi video on ‘How to Grow Spinach at Home By Neha Kachare’from team Nelda!
Onion is on the top of the crop list, especially during the winter in India, but they need warm and dry conditions as the Onion plants grow and start forming onion bulbs underground. In the chilly season, seeds are sown in seedbeds, and seedlings aged over a month are transplanted in raised beds. Plants need full sun & regular irrigation. Onions get ready to harvest in 80 to 100 days after transplanting, depending on the variety you decide to plant.
Carrot is one of the most widely consumed rooting vegetables. Many varieties of carrots in colour, texture, shape, and length are available easily. Edible roots of carrots can be seen grown in 80 to 100 days of seeding, depending on the variety. The soil needs to be loosened about one and a half times the expected length of the carrot. Break the soil fine to avoid any obstacle to the root.
Green peas are from the same family as beans. Plants are delicate as they don’t prefer hot & humid climate and thrive better in cold & dry weather. You need to use raised beds to directly sow the seeds. The green pea plant is a climber and needs trellis support. Harvesting the pods can be started 80 to 90 days before sowing. Peas need phosphorus and calcium. You can start with 50gms of seeds per 100 sq. ft. area.
Winter is here; let’s make the best of it.
Here’s how you can get the best out of the available soil, water, and fertiliser!
It’s important to understand that vegetable and fruit plants need more light, water, and nutrients rather than flowering or ornamental plants. Natural elements such as water, soil, and fertiliser strengthen the roots of these plants. So, the better quality soil, natural sunlight, and nutritious fertilisers you provide, the better their life and quality of produce.
The soil needs to have organic matter, but it should be light enough to avoid waterlogging and sogging to prevent root rot. It needs to be a good combination of topsoil (approx. 55 to 60%), organic matter (approx. 30%), and a growing mix like coco peat or vermiculite (approx. 10%). If you don’t have a clear idea of how you can make your own soil mixes or where to find reliable components, you can easily find ready-to-use mixes like the organic veggie mix. Always make sure that your soil bed or container has drainage for extra water.
Once you transplant the saplings to the bed in a given time, they should be placed adequately considering their size at full growth and planted as per their light requirements. Plants like beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes require a proper support structure for growing vines. It is important to provide care for the newly planted saplings from direct rain to prevent them from getting washed away.
Water is another important element for the proper growth of plants and fruits. More than required watering will rot the roots, and too little will stunt the growth. The simple science behind watering is that it should be done according to the size of the plant and the light it requires. Also, remember to shower the plants instead of a continuous water stream. It will protect the soil bed and prevent the roots from loosening from holding the bed.
Every plant needs proper fertilization as you are not growing them on regular farms. Organic fertilisers are often recommended as they provide better and healthier produce. At Nelda, we always recommend easily available cow dung fertilisers or fertilisers acquired from vermicompost. The quantity and the right time of fertilisation are also important, as the quality of fertiliser. The plant needs fertiliser when it is planted, when it starts flowering, and also when it fruits. However, it depends on the variety of plants.
Some fruiting plants grow singular male or female flowers and might need cross-pollination if there are no bees and butterflies. It might be a hard task, but is, in fact, as easy as using cotton swabs/earbuds to transfer pollen from one flower to another. You can consider it as a fun activity for your kids. 😉
The idea of pests is rather detested, but it’s the truth. Wherever there is food in nature, it attracts organisms that consume it. The best way to protect your plants is to prevent pests from coming closer to them. You can use organic pest control measures like neem oil at regular intervals. Just ensure that they are sourced from a trusted source and are completely organic. After all, you are going to consume the fruits as your food.
The first spray can be used when the first true leaves appear. Ensure you are spraying on the underside of the leaves, that is where pests hide and lay eggs. Also, use Neem bark powder (neem khali) in the potting mix as it protects roots. Once the plant reaches a good size, spray regularly every 2 weeks. Remember, prevention is better than finding the cure later. Be alert!
There is nothing like growing your own food. You are making ‘farm to table’ a reality, and you can eat whatever you are growing, literally avoiding food wastage. Home gardening improves a sense of satisfaction and enhances respect for the food we eat. Indian culture depicts respect for food and this concept is a perfect choice for you!
Growing food in our home gardens is an ideal way to utilise valuable space and reduce the carbon footprint due to food transport. If you have a larger space, you can even invite your friends and guests for brunch and dinners, enriching your relations.
At Nelda, your beloved NGO working hard for tree plantation and their growth, we have our own terrace garden here at our Pune facility.
We grow a few plants for our own use such as fenugreek, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkins, chilies, and more. If you need assistance with seeds and guide on plantation and care, get in touch with us at email@example.com or just call us on 9823348087!