How to Garden in the Winter

How to Garden in the Winter

green and red plants inside greenhouse
Photo by Brianna Martinez

Don’t want to say goodbye to gardening for the winter? Well with these tips you won’t have to! It is entirely possible to garden in the winter months of the year. Whether you want to grow indoors or out there are many plants that will keep delivering fresh food to your table throughout the winter.

The Basics for your Garden in the Winter

Light and Warmth in the Winter

The lack of light and warmth in the fall and winter will limit the variety of plants you can grow. Because of this that means no more melons, tomatoes, squash or peppers outdoors. If temperatures in your area fall below 25 degrees (-4 C) your plants will require protection. The best forms of protection are greenhouses and cloches. You can purchase a cloche for a reasonable price or you can make your own at home.

Plant Enough Crops in Late Summer or Early Fall

If planted at the right time these plants will reach maturity before the growing season stops. They will be well preserved in your garden when winter hits so you can harvest as you need them. These plants won’t grow during the winter but they will stay fresh. This also means that you will need to plant enough to make do without regrowth. Plants that work well for this include root vegetables, spinach, kale and winter lettuces.

Plant Crops That Grow Quickly in the Late Growing Season

After you harvest your regular crop you can plant new plants that grow in 4 to 6 weeks. Some great options for this type of planting are radishes, turnips arugula and mustard greens.

Tools to Protect your Plants while Gardening in the Winter

If you make use of a greenhouse, cloche or row covers you can extend the growing season for many plants we have previously listed.

Slow Growing Crops That Will Remain Dormant in the Winter for a Spring Harvest

Another option is to plant crops that grow slowly in late summer or early fall. These plants won’t reach their full maturity before winter hits but will become dormant and finishing growing in the spring. What you should plant: Onion, cauliflower, garlic and broccoli.

Approach your garden in the winter with a variety of strategies. Plant fast growing plants to harvest before winter, slow growing plants to harvest in the spring and plants that will reach maturity before winter that you can leave in the ground to harvest as you need.

black and white cold fog forest
Photo by Pixabay

What to Plant for your Garden in the Winter

Growing these plants to the point where they can be harvested before winter temperatures strike means you can harvest whenever you like as long you can get to them under the snow (if you get snow in your region). Some may be viable for overwintering.

Beets

Make sure to plant these 6 weeks before you expect your first frost. You can harvest them as greens or let them grow into the wonderful root vegetables we all love. They can be overwintered as long as you cover them in mulch when winter weather arrives.

Garlic

Garlic is very commonly grown as an overwinter food. Plant in mid to late fall and harvest in midsummer. Make sure to add mulch to protect from weather damage.

Cabbage

Sow cabbage seeds in July or August (you can do this late if you live in a warm area) to overwinter. Harvest in the spring. If growth is slowed or halted add compost or other materials to give it a boost. You can even use used coffee grounds!

assorted vegetable lot
Photo by Magda Ehlers

Carrots

For a winter harvest of carrots make sure to plant in early August. They should reach a size that is large enough to eat before temperatures plummet. They won’t grow while its cold but will stay fresh in the frozen ground for many months.

Kale

Kale is an extremely versatile plant that grows very well in the winter. The cold weather may also sweeten it’s flavor! To harvest in the winter plant lots in slightly basic (alkaline) soil in mid august. It will likely survive freezing temperatures but you may want to protect it from heavy snowfall.

Onions

Not all onion varieties are equal. Some will do better over winter than others But the overwinter varieties do very well. Transplant seedlings into your garden by late august and you can harvest in late spring or early summer. protect with mulch or row covers if temperatures reach below -10 F (-23 C).

Spinach

Spinach generally prefers cooler temperatures so it is a perfect plant for the late growing season. Plant in August or September and make sure to cover it with mulch or row covers before the first frost hits.

Build your own Greenhouse

If you are interested in building your own greenhouse at home I recommend watching the video below.

Garden in the Winter Indoors

If you live in a cold climate or just want an easier option for growing vegetables during the winter, indoor gardening is the go to solution for you. A great variety of vegetables and herbs can be grown indoor especially if your home has a sunny south facing window. If you have them growing in a pot outdoors all you need to do is bring them inside, make sure they receive adequate sunlight, and continue to fertilize and feed as you normally would.

Herbs

Herbs are some of the easiest edibles you can grow indoors. Mint is fairly shade tolerant but it still needs a couple of hours of direct sunlight every day, while basil and dill have the highest heat requirements needing to be at least 60 degrees F (16 C) overnight. The best to grow inside are basil, oregano, sage, lavender, mint, thyme, rosemary and dill.

Greens

Greens are generally quite easy to grow indoors although you will have better luck harvesting them as baby greens. Make sure you plant a new batch every few weeks to maintain a constant supply. Greens do not need artificial lighting if they are getting plenty of sun naturally, otherwise provide 10-12 hours of artificial lighting a day. The best greens for growing indoors are lettuces, arugula, kale, and spinach.

Chilli Peppers

Some chilli peppers are easier to grown indoors than others. Cayenne is by far the easiest to ripen. Other kinds that you can grow inside include Jalapenos and habaneros.

Sprouts

Sprouts are the easiest and fastest of all the edibles I have listed to grow indoors in the winter. You can buy sprouting kits to make things even easier on yourself. To grow sprouts all you need to do is soak the seeds for a day or two and then place them in a jar to germinate. Make sure to rinse them at least 2 times a day. You don’t need direct sunlight for sprouts.

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