Winter Gardening Tips: How to Make the Most of Your Winter Garden

By: On:
Winter Gardening Tips
Selective focus photo of red berries in winter

By now – most vegetable gardens offer a plethora of fruits and vegetables that can be harvested. If you don’t intend to consume them right away, you can also preserve them. Preserving them means you can consume them later on. Sowing additional seeds in their gardens is something gardeners don’t often think about.

But here’s something gardeners don’t know.

By planting seeds in July and August, you’ll be able to harvest plants that mature in the winter. But when that is said – a question comes to mind.

How Do You Grow Plants in the Winter?

The right winter gardening tips can help your garden flourish easily. Even though many plants won’t grow in winter’s wildest temperatures (like melons, peppers, and tomatoes, for example) – there are many vegetables that can survive in those kinds of temperatures. Some plants can thrive in the cool weather that is often associated with fall or winter.

The core factor that limits growth in times like this is sunlight. Even though there are some other factors that need to be addressed – like temperature, they can be dealt with if you have a greenhouse, cloche, row cover or a cold frame.

The ideal benchmark that can help you in your winter gardening is – don’t let the temperatures of the plant drop below 25F (-4C). If this does happen, you’ll need protection for your plants. But before that starts to happen, you’ll still have a lot of time to plant crops that can survive the winter. 

Understanding Winter Gardening

If you hear a gardener talk about gardening in the winter, they’re usually talking about several different aspects of gardening. Here are some gardening tips for beginners that can help.

#1. Plants That You Can Plant in Summer or Fall That Can Be Harvested in the Winter

These are plants that you can sow into your garden late, and you’ll see them mature before the winter starts to hit. To your surprise, these plants will hold well in cold temperatures. So even though every other plant in your garden is being tapered off – you’ll be able to harvest these tough little guys.

They won’t grow much in the winter because obviously, they won’t have the ideal conditions to grow in. But they will be in a condition that makes them edible and enjoyable. This means you need to grow enough plants so they can be harvested without regrowth. Examples of some common winter plants are:

  • Root Vegetables
  • Asian greens
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Winter lettuces

#2. Sowing Short Season Plants Late in the Gardening Season So They Can Mature Before Temperatures Get Extreme

As your garden beds begin to empty after your summer harvests, your gardening beds will be ready for fast-growing plants. You’ll be able to consume these plants before the cold weather starts to settle in. Anything can qualify for this category until it’s maturing in 3 or 6 weeks. For example:

  • Mustard greens
  • Arugula
  • Turnip
  • Lettuces
  • Tendril Peas
  • Radishes

#3. Using Appropriate Techniques and Tools That Enable You to Grow Your Plants Throughout the Winter

There are many ways you can make your plants survive longer in the harsh winter weather. You can use a greenhouse, a row cover or a cloche to lengthen the time when your plants actually start to grow. Many of the plants that we’ve listed will grow for more extended periods of time if they’re protected by a layer of covering.

#4. Plant Crops That Grow Slowly So They Can Be Harvested in Early Spring or Later Winter

In a situation like this, your plants will enter winter when they’re not fully grown. As the duration of the day starts to shorten and the temperature starts to go down, your crops will start to go dormant. In a situation like this, even the best winter gardening tips can’t make your plant grow actively again. For the plant to grow actively again, you’re going to have to wait for calendar changes.

When calendar changes begin to happen and the duration of the day starts to grow, your green friends will start growing again. This growth will add to the growth they’ve had in the fall season. Overwintered plants can usually be ready for harvest early. This can happen at the same time you’re starting to plant different crops in your garden. 

These plants won’t need any winter protection. These plants can be garlic, some kinds of broccoli, cauliflower, or onions. When you have so many options to choose from, it would be best if you approached your winter plant growth strategy with different perspectives. For example, you can plant some plants that will reach maturity quickly.

You can add some plants that can stick well to the garden bed and you can also add some plants that might overwinter and start growing again. This will usually happen when the days start to elongate. 

Which Vegetable Can I Plant Right Now?

Your planting times can vary depending on the location you live in. In a situation like this, appropriate winter gardening tips can be very useful. But there are some general rules that you can follow. In the northern parts, crops are usually planted late – meaning July or August. But in the southern parts, this window can be extended till October.

Here are some of our top recommendations for the vegetables that you can grow in your winter garden.

Winter Vegetables You Can Grow Outdoors

Frozen currants
Frozen currants

If you’re able to grow these plants to a decent size before the first frost, you’ll be able to harvest them as long as you can access them. In some cases, you can also overwinter the plants for an early spring or late winter harvest. With the right winter gardening tips, these plants can make your garden colorful again.

Beets

You should plant beets 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost – according to your calculations. You can then harvest this plant once the leaves have matured. This will mean the plant is now rich in vitamins and will taste absolutely delicious.

In many locations, beets can stay in garden beds throughout the winter even when extremely cold weather hits.

Broad Beans

Broad beans grow slowly but taste delicious. This means that they will grow in the late winter months. Try planting them in the middle or in the later stages of fall, and make sure the area you’re planting them in is full of snow. When the pods of the plant start to fatten, it means that the plant is ready to harvest. This can usually happen in early spring.

Garlic

One of the easiest plants you can grow is garlic. Garlic is a plant that usually goes into your garden bed in late fall and can be harvested in the middle of summer. If you want your plant to be really healthy, try planting it with lots of compost. If you want to add protection, try adding mulch so your plant can stay protected from weeds and the harsh weather.

Cabbage

There are many different kinds of cabbage varieties that you can choose from to grow cabbage. You can then plant this strong garden vegetable from the summer till the spring. If there’s an overwintering variety, you can harvest it in July or August, or even later if you live in a warm area.

If you think your plant is prone to pests, try adding a floating row cover. If you think the growth of the plant is slowing down, add some compost on your plant and water it well.

Carrots

There are some rules you’ll have to follow if you want to harvest your carrots. You’re going to have to plant carrots late in August or July. You’ll then have to let them grow until they grow to the point that they’re large enough to eat. However, you should also know that when the temperatures start to drop, carrots won’t grow that much.

But even carrots that don’t grow well can stay in the soil for many months. Harvesting a fresh carrot in December can be the best treat you can give to your family members.

Kale

Like cabbage, kale is also one of the easiest plants you can grow. Apart from this, you’ll be glad to know that the winter season only sweetens kale’s flavor. If you want to harvest kale in the winter, plant generously a soil that is slightly alkaline in mid or early August. Kale can also survive freezing temperatures.

But if you want to prevent the breakage of leaves, you can protect the leaves from snowfall.

Onions

Like many of the crops on this list, onions are also a kind of crop that can overwinter pretty well. But for this to happen, you’re going to have to choose a variety that can overwinter well. Because of crucial winter gardening tips, selecting an overwintering variety can be easy.

The lengthening days will start growing in late winter. Because of this, your plant will be ready for a harvest that can happen in late spring. Transplant seeds into your garden by late August and protect your plant with a floating row cover or a straw mulch. But only do this if the temperatures are starting to fall below -10F (-23C).

Peas

You can plant peas outdoors. Keeping them planted till mid-august will make them ready for a fall harvest. If you provide peas some protection, they can also start to overwinter and might start growing again in spring. But this usually happens in warmer areas. One kind we can recommend is the parsley pea.

It is usually grown because of the green tendrils that it has, and it is a great addition to any salad. We recommend growing this pea variety before the frost starts to hit. You can also provide protection so you can extend its harvest till winter.

Winter Crops You Can Grow Under Cover

Winter Gardening Tips
Plants in a greenhouse

There’s no question about the fact that plants grown under a cover can provide some of the best returns on the money you spend. These covers can be raised garden covers or greenhouses. Winter gardening is one of the best ways these covers can show their true worth.

The following vegetables will grow well in harsh weather until the first frost starts to appear.

When the first frost starts to happen, they’re going to need protection so their harvest can be extended.

Arugula

Arugula is a plant that has a nutty flavor and has an oak leaf shape. Nowadays, Arugula can be seen in many spring “mixes” of gardening. But you’ll be surprised to know that Arugula can also grow well in cooler weather. If you protect it from frost, it can grow throughout the winter.

Try planting it in successive sowings, two weeks apart. Start doing this in the first six weeks of your first frost. As temperatures approach freezing points, cover the plant with a floating row fabric or a cloche. Arugula can also grow very well in a greenhouse. 

Bok Choy

Bok choy is another quick-growing green that can grow very well in cold weather. Sowing it in August or September every couple of weeks will provide excellent yield. You can protect your plants with a cloche or a floating row cover in extreme temperatures or when heavy frosts become a norm.

Boy choys are high in calcium and can be great additions to the winter smoothies you make. 

Lettuce

Winter lettuces can grow well in late summers or early fall because there is no problem of warm temperatures. However, seeding time can be tricky. You solve this problem by planting the crop in a seeding tray in a cool area and then transplanting it when the weather starts to cool.

You can also use shade if the temperature is increasing. When the season starts to shift, the lettuce will get just what they need: a lot of moisture and cooler days. When the cold weather starts to approach, cover the plant with a floating row fabric or a cloche. Lettuce that is planted in a greenhouse is usually the best out of the bunch.

You may like following gardening tips:

Conclusion

On the whole – if you think you can’t fulfill your gardening needs in chilly weather – you couldn’t be more wrong! There are some plants that can withstand the challenging conditions of the winters. But caring for these plants comes with a cost. With proper guidance and know-how, your garden can flourish – even in the winters. If you’ve waited all your life to start a winter garden – now is the time to start plowing!

I hope you will find these winter gardening tips and how to make the most of your winter garden? Winter Vegetables You Can Grow Outdoors and Winter Crops You Can Grow Under Cover

Leave a Comment