While some vegetables are able to be planted and grown all year round, many plants and vegetables can’t tolerate the cold temperatures of the winter months. The truth is, you can grow delicious vegetables all winter long if you choose the right kinds.
Whether you want to increase your sustainability credentials or simply test whether you can pull it off, the techniques below should keep your garden productive even throughout the winter months.
Winter veggies should be planted by mid-August if you live in a cold environment so that a root system can grow before everything gets cold and frozen, but if you live in a warmer environment, you can plant later.
Hoop buildings and cold frames protect crops against deep freezes. Mulch, frames, hoops, tunnels, or even loose straw or leaves can be used to protect and insulate your crops.
Lettuce is one of the most adaptable plants in the vegetable garden, coming in a wide range of colors, forms, and flavors. Plant a few seeds once a week and you’ll have a steady supply of fresh salads.
Planting lettuce in a shady location in the summer keeps the plant cool, allowing you to harvest throughout the warmer months. Lettuce plants grow best in either full sun or partly shaded areas and should always be kept in well-drained soil.
Peas are ideal for adding structure to a cool-season garden by growing them on a fence or small trellis. They’re also quite lovely to look at: Variegated leaves and white blooms are common on the plants.
If you don’t have a place to build a fence or trellis, seek upright pea kinds that don’t require additional support to climb. Pea plants prefer full sun and flourish best in moist but well-drained soil. We recommend the ‘Maestro’ variety of peas, which are extra-sweet and ready for harvest in just 60 days.
Radishes are one of the quickest vegetables to mature; they’re generally ready for harvest less than a month after you plant the seeds. Radishes are available in a number of flesh hues, including white, red, pink, and lavender.
Round-root radish types are ideal for growing in pots due to their rapid development and tiny size. After the radishes have been harvested, consider planting some summer vegetables or flowers in their place. Radish plants thrive best in full sun and well-drained soils.
It is possible for you to enjoy delicious carrots in the spring, summer, and fall. While you won’t have large, long roots in the spring, smaller varieties like ‘Thumbelina’ are ideal for early planting. Carrots should be harvested as soon as the roots are large enough to consume.
Carrots become sweeter when the weather cools. Be sure to mulch the roots to keep the soil from freezing, then harvest them in the late fall and early winter. Carrot crops grow best in full sun or partly shaded areas in well-drained soil.
Cabbage may serve as both an ornamental and an edible. There are several variations; choose early cabbage cultivars (such as ‘Earliana’) for spring harvests. Late cabbage cultivars (such as ‘Vantage Point’) are excellent for planting in the middle of the summer and harvesting in the fall.
Red-leaf cabbage types like ‘Ruby Ball’ and ‘Super Red’ will brighten up your food garden. Cabbage crops thrive in full sun areas and in moist and well-drained soils.
Broccoli is nutrient-dense, flavorful, and simple to grow. It can also withstand cold; plant it in the spring about a month before your area’s usual last frost date. Because broccoli prefers low temperatures, you can grow it in late summer for fall harvests.
If you leave the leaves on the plant after harvesting the broccoli florets, the plants should generate side shoots for a second or even third crop. Broccoli crops thrive best in full sun or partial shade and should only ever be planted in well-drained soil.
This is one of the most beautiful vegetables you can harvest. Swiss chard has glossy green heart- or arrow-shaped leaves on bright purple, pink, crimson, gold, orange, or white stems. The leaves taste similar to spinach. Some types of Swiss chard are more frost-resistant than others.
Plant this veggie as late as possible in the spring. Swiss Chard grows best in full sun or partial shade and should be planted in well-drained soil.
What vegetables can survive a freeze?
While many crops can tolerate a regular drop in temperature during the winter months, only certain vegetables can withstand a total freeze. These are classified into two types: semi-hardy and hardy.
Semi-hardy veggies may withstand repeated light frosts in the 30–32 F range. Beets, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, green onions, potatoes, Bibb and leaf lettuce, mustard, parsnips, radishes, salsify, spinach, and Swiss chard are just a few examples.
Some species, such as collards and parsnips, benefit greatly from a brief period of below-freezing temperatures.
Hardy veggies can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit before dying. Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, leeks, rutabagas, and turnips are among these veggies. These hardy crops, if thawed, will continue to thrive between freezes.
Remember that even if the tops of crops like carrots and turnips are killed by cold, the roots will remain healthy if the plants are mulched with a thick layer of insulating material like hay or leaves.
This will keep the earth from freezing and allow you to gather fresh roots as needed throughout the winter. Voles, on the other hand, may uncover and enjoy your stash of overwintering produce first.
It’s important to remember that there are certain vegetables that will definitely not survive the winter. For example, typical “summer” veggies such as tomatoes, basil, summer squash, peppers, and eggplant will not survive the frosts and low temperatures of the winter months.
If temperatures in your backyard plummet to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, then you can expect the crops to be dead and yellowed by morning.