It is possible—with the proper arrangements and precautions—to plant and grow a handful of vegetables during the colder season.
What to Plant in a Winter Garden
- Spinach. I love growing spinach in my winter garden because it is great for slipping in smoothies for those much-needed vitamins in the winter. …
- Kale. Kale is another favorite food of mine to grow in a winter garden. …
- Parsley. I love parsley. …
- Asian Greens. …
- Arugula. …
- Carrots. …
Winter vegetables to grow outdoors
Getting these vegetables to a reasonable size before the first frost means you can harvest them as long as they remain accessible. You can also overwinter some varieties for that late winter or early spring harvest.
Plant beets 6 to 8 weeks before your first expected frost. Harvest as baby greens or leave in the ground to mature into delicious, vitamin-rich roots. In most locations, beets can stay in the ground all winter if mulched when very cold weather hits.
One of the easiest crops to grow, garlic generally goes into the ground in mid to late fall and gets harvested in midsummer. Plant with lots of compost, and add mulch for protection from weeds and weather.
Kale is one of the easiest plants to grow and cold weather only sweetens its flavor. For a winter harvest, plant a generous amount in slightly alkaline soil in early to mid August. Kale will usually survive freezing temperatures, but you can protect the leaves from heavy snowfall if you want to prevent breakage.
While difficult to grow in the heat of summer, spinach thrives in cool weather and will continue to grow new leaves even with lower light. It is also hardy enough to grow without cover until mid-October in many locations, so you can plant it later in the season (August to September), allow it to grow outside, and then cover it before the first frosts.
More winter gardening tips
Once you have chosen your crops, there are some other considerations that can help improve your chances for success during cold, wet weather.
- Start seeds in trays
- If you live in the northern states or Canada, winter gardening often requires careful timing to make the best use of your planting window. Starting seeds in trays can give your seedlings a jump on the season. When a bed becomes vacant in your garden, transplanting a healthy seedling into the ground saves you a few weeks growing time.Grow in raised garden beds
- In some parts of the continent, wet weather can inhibit plant growth just as much as cold temperatures. Raised beds lift your garden soil above the soggy ground and help ensure the best drainage possible. They also warm more quickly come springtime.Protect against wind
We’ve talked about frost and snow, but wind can often damage plants during the winter. Creating a windbreak, planting in a sheltered area, or using polytunnels or row covers for wind can give your plants added protection.
Despite colder temperatures and shorter days, winter provides a gardening opportunity suitable for many hardy vegetables. Consult your local seed companies for varieties suitable for your area and get planting!