Taking care of a vegetable garden is such a satisfying way to spend your time. Not only is it relaxing to take care of the vegetables and see them grow, but it’s really nice to be able to enjoy the fruits (or rather vegetables) of your labor.
When the weather is starting to get a bit cooler outside, you’re not going to be able to keep growing the same things in your vegetable garden any longer. You don’t have to give up on gardening when the winter comes around, though.
There are actually many great vegetables that you can grow in a winter garden. You just want to make sure that you pick the right ones that you’re interested in.
Read on to get advice about what to grow. This should give you more ideas for what you can do when you’re looking to still have a good time growing vegetables in the winter.
How Cold Do Winters Get Where You Live?
One thing that you’ll need to figure out is how cold winters get where you live. If your winters will see the temperature dip below 25 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis, then you’re going to need to protect your plants no matter what.
There are many different ways that you can protect plants so that you can grow them during the winter. For instance, some people will choose to use greenhouses so that they can grow vegetables that normally wouldn’t be able to tolerate cooler temperatures.
You can also use things to protect plants from the cold such as row covers, cloches, and cold frames. Depending on how cold it is in your area during the winter, it might be crucial to protect your plants.
If you live somewhere that has milder winter temperatures, then you might not need to worry about the cold weather as much. However, you’re still going to need to be concerned about the lower amounts of sunlight during the winter.
You’ll have to pick plants wisely that will be able to thrive in slightly cooler temperatures while also being able to tolerate less sunlight. Below, you’re going to be able to read about some of the most popular options that people like to grow in winter vegetable gardens.
Winter Crops Are Planted in the Late Summer and Autumn Months
When you decide on which winter crops you want to plant, you’ll need to know when to plant them. To get the best results, you’re going to want to plant winter crops during the late summer months or the early days of autumn.
Essentially, you’re planting crops that will be ready to harvest at some point during the winter months. There are a few ways to go about this.
You can pick crops that are meant to be planted in the late summer or autumn specifically. It’s also possible to choose crops that grow really slow and will be ready to harvest once winter has arrived.
It’s just important to make this clear before moving forward. You won’t actually be planting the crops during the winter, but you’ll be caring for the plants during the winter and getting ready to harvest them at some point when they’re ready.
Peas are very popular winter crops that will do very well in your vegetable garden if you take care of them properly. You’re going to be planting the peas in the middle of August and they will usually be harvested in the fall.
So why are these considered to be a winter vegetable garden crop? Because the peas are capable of overwintering in many areas where the weather isn’t too harsh during the winter.
This means that your peas can survive and grow again during the spring if the conditions are right. You’ll likely need to protect the peas during the winter to protect them from freezing temperatures.
Beets should be planted between six and eight weeks before you’re supposed to experience the first winter frost in your area. You’ll have to keep an eye on the forecasts to determine the best time to plant beets.
There are a few different things that you can do with beets in your vegetable garden as well. If you choose to harvest beets a bit early, then you’ll be able to enjoy baby greens.
Beets can also be left in the ground and allowed to mature so that you can enjoy the roots. They’re an incredible source of vitamins and beets are capable of staying in the ground for the entirety of the winter so long as you’re using mulch.
Onions are great if you’re looking for a crop that can overwinter. Of course, you’ll need to choose specific varieties of onions that are known for overwintering.
You might need to protect the onions when overwintering if temperatures dip too low. This is easily accomplished by using straw mulch or simple row covers.
Broad beans are among the options that people choose when they like planting slow-growing crops that will grow through the winter. You’re going to want to plant the broad beans sometime in the middle of autumn.
Be sure to stake the broad beans in areas where snowfall might be heavy. This ensures that you know where everything is located and makes your job easier.
You’ll be able to harvest the broad beans sometime in the early spring. It’ll be clear that it’s time to harvest the broad beans when the pods start to look fat.
Kale is a great option to choose for your vegetable garden when you’re looking for something easy. In fact, cold weather is known to sweeten the flavor of the kale and that makes it even more appealing.
If you wish to harvest kale during the winter months, then you should plant it during the middle of August. To get the best results, ensure that the soil is slightly alkaline.
Kale is typically capable of surviving freezing temperatures nicely. However, you might need to protect the leaves from heavy snowfall to keep them from breaking.
Garlic is another crop that is very simple to grow. That’s why it has become very popular in many vegetable gardens around the world.
You will plant garlic during the middle of autumn and it will be harvested sometime in the middle of summer. It’s easy to protect the garlic from winter temperature issues when you use mulch.
Mulching is a good idea even if temperatures don’t dip too low in your area. The mulch will protect the garlic from weeds.
When you plan to harvest carrots in the winter, it’s going to be necessary to plant them in late July or very early August. You can keep them in your garden through the fall and winter.
Many people choose to harvest the carrots slowly to make them last longer. You can harvest a few at a time so that you can enjoy fresh carrots whenever you want them.
When the temperatures start to dip, the carrots will stop getting larger for the most part. They can still remain in the soil and will keep just fine for many months if you do things right.
There are overwintering varieties of cabbage that you can enjoy. You can actually start harvesting cabbage in the summer and then keep on harvesting until the spring.
Overwintering varieties are supposed to be seeded in July and August. You can seed the cabbages a bit later than this if you live in an area with warmer winter temperatures.
Options to Choose When Using Cover
The options below will be available to you if you’re using a cover to protect the vegetables. This means that you can use things such as greenhouses and garden houses to protect certain plants from particularly cold temperatures.
This will be a lot of effort for some people. If you want to only plant things that will be easier to handle during the winter months, then you should stick with the options above.
The vegetables being discussed below will require you to invest in cover options to be able to grow them during the winter. If you don’t wish to spend money or go to the effort to do this, then you won’t be able to enjoy having these vegetables in your winter vegetable garden.
Swiss chard is known to be a fairly hardy plant, but it still isn’t going to be able to tolerate freezing temperatures. If you can protect the plant properly, then you’ll be able to enjoy this as part of your winter vegetable garden.
You’re supposed to sow the seeds for Swiss chard in early August. Keep the soil moist and it’ll grow really nicely for you.
Spinach can thrive in cooler weather, but you will need to protect it. It must be covered before a frost occurs in your area or it won’t survive.
The good thing about growing spinach in your vegetable garden is that it does a great job of tolerating lower light. It can even grow without cover until sometime around the middle of October in most areas.
You’ll need to keep an eye on the weather to be safe, but spinach will be an excellent addition to your vegetable garden. Plant your spinach during August or September to get good results.
Parsley can also be grown in winter vegetable gardens and will do well if you cover them with a cloche when the weather gets too cold. You’ll want to cover the parsley with a cloche before the temperatures dip below freezing.
You can harvest parsley during the winter if you plant the seeds in late August. Remember to plant it in soil that has been dug deep and try to use compost as well.
Lettuce can do well if you approach things the right way. You want to plant in August, but lettuce might not do well in the harsh heat.
This means that it’s safer to plant seedling trays in a cool area and then transplant the lettuce once things have cooled down substantially. It’s a bit more work, but it will ensure that the lettuce will do well in your winter vegetable garden.
When the colder weather starts to pop up, you’re going to want to cover the lettuce. You can use cloches or you could cover the lettuce with some type of fabric.
If you want to spend the money to get a greenhouse going, then the lettuce will absolutely thrive. You don’t necessarily need a greenhouse, though.
Bok choy has become popular in many vegetable gardens due to how well it does in cooler weather. You can plant in August and September every two or three weeks.
One of the coolest things about bok choy is that it grows very fast. You will need to protect the plant from heavy frosts using a cloche or a standard row cover.
Arugula grows really well in cool weather and that makes it a good fit for your winter vegetable garden. If you do what is necessary to protect arugula from frost, then it’ll be able to grow during the winter just fine.
When temperatures start to approach freezing, you’re going to want to cover the arugula plants with a cloche. Some gardeners have found success using row fabric to protect their plants, too.
There are many different types of vegetables that you can choose to plant in your winter vegetable garden. Which ones will appeal to you will depend on various factors.
If you want to pick the easiest vegetables to grow in the winter, then you might want to find options that won’t need as much protection. However, if you’re willing to spend cash on cloches and other types of protection, many different types of vegetables can be grown.
Whether you’re interested in growing carrots, cabbage, kale, or lettuce, it’s going to be easy to enjoy gardening in the winter. It’ll be great to be able to enjoy harvesting fresh veggies during the winter months, and you’ll likely want to keep gardening in the winter every year moving forward.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.