Winter Gardening Tips And Best Winter Crops

Winter Gardening Tips And Best Winter Crops

We often associate homegrown food with staples like potatoes or winter squash, which are kept in cool, dry places. Many gardeners are now discovering the joys in harvesting fresh produce throughout the winter, which allows them to enjoy delicious cold-hardy crops that have been picked just at the right time with right plants and plant care.

  • The seed-buying period used to be in January, February, and March. There is a surge in fall-planted crops, with a spike in June, July, and August, as well as September. The garden is too beautiful to be stopped just because it’s cold outside.

This does not mean that you can grow tomatoes in January. To produce delicious fruiting crops, they need warm, sunny days with high temperatures.

Winter food is all about the leaves, stems, and roots. They mature slower as the weather cools down and the days get shorter. Winter vegetables are even more delicious when it is cold. Winter gardening is a wonderful way to enjoy the bounty of winter vegetables.

Climate Considerations

Should a winter gardener plant different crops depend on climate?

Not necessarily. You can still grow a variety of crops in winter in the south, but you will need a winter-protection device in the north to extend your garden’s productivity.

  • It could be a cold frame or a simple greenhouse. These season-extension devices, particularly at night, capture some of the earth’s natural warmth and block the drying, chilling effect of wind.
  • There is enough sunlight to grow many winter crops at any latitude in the United States. In the Northeast, the year’s second spring begins around August. However, the date can be shifted to October in warmer areas. This is when the fall temperatures will be high enough for plants to germinate and reach maturity.

Home gardeners have an advantage. They don’t need to produce perfect vegetables, on a set schedule, for a competitive market. Home gardeners are better equipped to deal with winter’s challenges than large-scale growers. Home-scale winter growers have the ability to experiment with the timing and sow new varieties whenever there is a vacant space. They can experiment with many varieties until they find what grows best and tastes best for them. The following seven varieties and crops are tried-and-true favorites.

Leafing out

You should look for cold tolerance when choosing winter crops. However, the growth habits and schedule of plants will also play a role in your decision.

Spinach is an example of a winter annual that can withstand cold. It germinates in autumn, then grows through winter and spring, before going to seed in spring. It can be picked all year round because it produces new leaves every day.

However, cold-hardy broccoli and Brussels sprouts stop producing after a specific point. Their leaves, however, are a delicious bonus that you should not miss.

These are the top leafy winter crops you should try.


  • It was planted in the late summer and survived our Maine winter under a thin layer of row cover in an unheated greenhouse.
  • The main factor that causes spinach to bolt is the increasing day length.
  • Space, out of all the varieties available, has been our favorite — it is very hardy and takes a long time to bolt in spring.


  • While not as frost-tolerant as spinach, lettuce prefers cool weather. It is great for spring and fall, even in the coldest areas.
  • Leaf lettuce is more resilient than full-head varieties, especially when it’s cut at “baby” size (3 inches high). This makes it a great crop that can be cut multiple times.
  • Among the hardiest lettuce varieties are ‘Red Oak Leaf’, romaines like ‘Winter Density’ or ‘Rouge d’Hiver’. This is especially true if you grow your lettuce in a humid environment such as a greenhouse. The cold-resistant ‘Red Oak Leaf” lettuce can be harvested multiple times.


Arugula is becoming increasingly popular as a cut and comes again crop. Arugula’s friendly bite adds pizzazz to cold meals without the flea beetles or bolting that comes with growing it in the summer.

Asian greens.

  • Asian green, Tatsoi is the most resilient. It forms large heads with small, dark green, spoon-shaped, and mildly-flavored leaves.
  • They are good for stir-fry, but also great for salads.
  • Tatsoi can survive winter by hunkering down flat on the ground like a green rug.
  • New leaves will sprout in the middle of the leaf as you remove the outer leaves.
  • Another is Mei Qing Choi. This dwarf bok choy has upright leaves with crisp, white bottoms.
  • Not to forget feathery mizuna and pungent and thick-stemmed Chinese Chinese mustard. And dwarf bok choy called Mei Qing Choi, which has crisp, white bottoms and still-tasty leaves.


Excellent in all seasons and more heat-tolerant than lettuce, chard can sometimes survive winter without any protection in my Maine garden. It will die back to the ground in spring and reseed in spring. ‘Argentata’ is the cold-hardiest variety for winter harvest.


The Siberian types (B. The Siberian varieties (B.) are the hardest of all. napus, which are tender and have milder flavors than other kales, are the hardiest. These plants, like the ‘True Siberian” and ‘Western Front,’ are able to produce leaves throughout winter.

Mache is delicate wintergreen that can be harvested small. You can also try ‘Vit’, which is a mildew-resistant variety.


Hardy and rare in farmers’ markets, mache can be a gardener’s delight.

  • It is a winter annual that will remain where it was planted until fall when it will be able to move. Although it is one of the most resilient winter greens, it can be slow to grow.
  • The tiny heads are best cut at 3 inches in diameter and there is no regrowth. It’s hard to believe that a salad of Mache can be so delicious.
  • The slightly cupped leaves are made to hold a light vinaigrette. The winter-growing variety ‘Vit” is a great choice.


This charming little plant is an undiscovered hero in winter gardening. It is a North American native, also known as “miner’s lettuce”, and was used to feed prospectors during California’s gold rush days.

  • These round, delicate, nickel-sized leaves can be used in salads, but are too fragile to cook.
  • Claytonia is a winter annual that regenerates quickly after being cut repeatedly in winter, provided it is protected from severe frost.
  • It then bolts in spring with a cloud of small, fragrant white flowers.


This herb is the hardiest of all herbs.

  • It can slow down its growth in winter, but it will still grow in Zone 5 and produce lush greens in spring.
  • Flat-leaf parsley is preferred by many cooks, while curly varieties like ‘Forest Green” are more resistant to frost.
  • Parsley can self-seed biennially, so it is best to leave it alone and not disturb it.

Rooting for Flavor

You can also treat root crops as fresh-harvested winter crops, even if they are being stored. You can keep most of your root crops in place and just dig them up if you need to. This is true for mild freezes, except for potatoes.


Carrots survive in Vermont with only good snow cover. But you shouldn’t rely on that.

  • They are safe in a cold frame with loose straw, and hay or in a heated greenhouse under a layer of row covers.
  • While you sow multiple times from late July through mid-August to ensure that they are ready for harvest, readers who live in warmer climates may plant as late as November.
  • You can also plant beets following the same schedule, however, they are not as hardy.
  • Winter carrots can be likened to candy after a few good touches of frost. The strong flavor compounds of winter carrots have been pushed to the side, and natural sugars, nature’s antifreeze, have taken over.
  • The day length exceeds 10 hours and the flavor of winter carrots is affected. This happens most often in late January or early February.


‘Hakurei’, a round, white Japanese variety. Sweet, tender roots are great for raw consumption. Tops can be enjoyed if kept above freezing. White Egg is a very popular South storage variety, but can also be grown in winter elsewhere. Colletto Viola is an Italian variety with pink shoulders and crisp, white flesh.


Use leeks to add oniony flavor to winter soups and salads. This is the most widely grown winter crop in European homes. Leeks should be planted in spring to ensure harvest in winter.


Although this fine crop requires protection from frost, it loves cool temperatures.

Jumping into Winter Gardening

Winter gardening is easy. Low light levels and slow pace reduce evaporation. This can also eliminate the need to water from mid-November through mid-February in most parts of the country.

  • You can try many crops to find the one that works best for you. Start with the lowest level of protection, then you can decide how accommodating you are.
  • You can experiment with the timing and plant new crops whenever you spot an empty space.
  • To give your crops an extra boost, make sure you have plenty of compost.
  • Keep in mind that heat should be feared more than cold. Do not allow hot air to build up in cold frames, quick hoops, or greenhouses. This could cause your greens to become too “cooked” prematurely.
  • You should keep an open mind for new varieties in this constantly-growing field.
  • For the most exciting adventure, save seeds from top-performing plants year after year until you have adjusted each crop to winter conditions in your garden.