The beauty of growing a year round vegetable garden is having access to delicious, fresh, homegrown veggies throughout the winter. There are certain vegetables that are frost-resistant and can tolerate colder temperatures. We reveal those here, plus share some of our top tips for successful winter harvests.
Grow delicious vegetables, no matter the season!
Learn from Master Gardener Bill Thorness in his online class The Extended Harvest: Vegetables for Every Season, and enjoy fresh vegetables throughout the holidays and beyond.
The best winter vegetables to grow now for a successful harvest
Always read the seed packet and ensure plants are suitable for your zone, but carrots can generally be sowed in June for an early winter harvest. Renee’s Garden Seeds suggests putting a mulch around the soil (18″ around the planted seeds) to protect from freezing. A bit sweeter when grown in the cold, carrots also won’t last as long once harvested, so be sure to use them right away during winter harvests.
Sow leeks in April to July for a December to March harvest. Sow Winter Giant leeks in April for winter harvest. Other varieties that are good for winter harvest include Jean de Poitou, Monstreux de Charanten, Blue Winter and Long Winter.
3. Rocket or arugula
Winter rocket has a more mild flavor than the spring harvest. Sow rocket starting in July for a winter harvest. It does best with a little more protection. Olive Leaf rocket is more cold-tolerant than other varieties.
With severe winters, some scallions will need extra mulching or a cold frame. Recommended cold hardy varieties include Evergreen Hardy White, Red Baron, Sturon and Radar. Winter scallions won’t last as long so don’t try to store them as long as you would your summer harvests.
5. Radicchio and endive
Try Italian Dandelion, Markant Endive, Radiccio di Treviso for winter harvesting. Colder weather makes for a sweeter flavor. Once the plants’ root system are developed, they can withstand frost and cold weather. Mulch around the crown of the plant.
6. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts love cool weather and the flavor increases when the temperatures drop. Mulch around the plant for winter before the snow comes. RHS suggests Revenge and Bosworth for late or winter harvests. Trafalger provides harvests from December on to March.
Some winter gardening tips
- The key to successful winter crops is in choosing cold hardy varieties, providing mulch around the base of the plant, and providing protection like cold frames when necessary.
- In many zones, you’ll need to put a mulch around the soil to protect the plants from freezing. You can actually pull veggies from underneath the snow when you do this. Isn’t that amazing?
- You can also use a cold frame, greenhouse or cloche if you live in an area with very harsh winters. Be prepared to sow the seeds during the middle part or end of summer so they can develop a root system before the cold weather hits.
- Also, be on the lookout for more protected areas around your property that might work well for winter gardening. I highly recommend reading the RHS’s guide to winter veggie gardens as well as this blueprint, provided by the wonderful Renee’s Garden Seeds.