There’s absolutely no reason for the growing season to stop just because winter starts. There are quite a few winter garden vegetables that will grow well in the colder weather — even tolerating up to the upper
Here’s the complete list of vegetables to grow in winter, plus a few tips to keep your winter garden happy and healthy.
First, choose your Winter Garden Vegetables.
Before anything else, determine your USDA hardiness zone. Your hardiness zone tells you the temperatures of your average winter. You’ll be able to tell what a typical winter will contain for you. (Or you can reach out to Grow Pro and they can match you to the perfect plants based on your location and the current weather in your area)
The lowest temperature in your hardiness zone is how you’ll choose what you can grow. This temperature is the cut-off for what you can grow unprotected in your vegetable garden.
Remember, one of the benefits of growing winter vegetables in containers is they are mobile so if really bad weather is heading your way you can simply move your garden to a protected area.
Ultimately, there are three types of winter garden vegetables: hardy, semi-hardy, and ‘ultra-hardy.’
Hardy vegetables tolerate hard frosts occurring from about 25° to 28° Fahrenheit. In areas where the temperatures drop below this (most areas of the United States), you’ll need to provide protection throughout the winter.
Hardy vegetables include english peas, kohlrabi, leeks, broccoli, brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, and collards.
Semi-hardy vegetables tolerate light frosts, which are defined as frosts that occur at 29-32° Fahrenheit. Semi-hardy vegetables are not as tolerant to winter temperatures as hardy vegetables, but can still grow very successfully in many winter climates.
Leaf lettuces, arugula, Asian greens, endive, swiss chard, beets, and carrots are all examples of semi-hardy vegetables.
Lastly, we have what we’ve coined ‘ultra-hardy vegetables.’ There are only three ultra-hardy vegetables: kale, spinach, and mustard greens.
These three crops can tolerate temperatures as low as upper teens to low 20s. In milder regions, they will literally grow all winter long, harvesting into the next spring.
Below, we’ve included a list of our favorite winter garden vegetables.
Plant peas in November or in February for a good winter harvest. Plant seeds an inch or two deep in the garden soil, and be sure to include a trellis — or something for the plants to climb up and wind their tendrils around.
Pro tip: Birds love peas, so you may need to cover sprouts with a tarp or a floating row cover. Be sure the sunshine and rain can get in!
Radishes are low-maintenance to care for and ultra-quick growers. Some small-rooted varieties are ready in a month or less from seeding! These roots are amiable to the cold temperature and young growers.
Leeks are inexpensive crops that produce plentifully. As hardy vegetables, they are completely unfazed by mild winters, although they require a bit of attention in extremely cold climates. They can be harvested throughout the year and are a total staple
Lettuce varieties are sem-hardy, meaning they’re appropriate for milder climates. Look specifically for varieties that appreciate the cold weather. Mesclun, heirloom, and red leaf are particularly good options. Sow seeds in January and February, use a row cover, and enjoy a spring harvest.
Spinach is one of our ultra-hardy crops, meaning it grows in all sorts of climates. Ideally, sow in early autumn and harvest throughout the winter. If you’re lucky, your harvests will extend into the next summer.
Pro tip: Remove the flowers regularly to prevent your spinach from going to seed.
February is the perfect planting winter month for potato — preferred even.. You’ll harvest about 3 months from seed date. They’re a hearty winter starch, and it’s incredibly satisfying for kids to harvest tubers.
Kale is another ultra-hardy vegetables, and it’s made much more tender and tasty from the cold. Find the complete guide to growing kale here and how to extend your harvest well into the winter here. Note: it’s easiest to grow from seedlings!
There are a few herbs that grow well in winter, like rosemary, thyme, and mint, but all herbs become winter herbs when they’re grown indoors. Herbs grow extraordinarily well indoors on window sills where they don’t have to deal with the cold and wind. You’ll have fresh flavors all winters long.
Bok Choy and other Asian greens are good options for mild climates. Grow them from transplants for the best chance for success. They’re delicious in winter soups and stir-fries!
Sow arugula seeds late fall for best winter garden results. Arugula does quite well in the cold. It will tolerate frost and moderate
Pro tip: Spinach is a great growing companion for arugula — they enhance each other!
Garlic is a dream winter garden vegetable. Essentially, you plant and let them grow all winter for a spring and summer harvest. Garlic needs very little attention and
When you plant, don’t water garlic in. It’s better to wait until shoots appear over the soil to water for the first time. Garlic does need full sun, so be careful of gloomy winters. Be sure soil is well
Onions are great winter crops, preferring to be planted in January or February. You’ll be able to harvest next summer or, if you’re planting green onions, within six weeks of seeding.
Onions are a bit picky about their soil — they don’t want too sandy or too
This winter gardening chart holds details about many varieties of vegetables and is a great quick-reference table for winter gardening needs.
Tips for Winter Growing
- Ideally, most crops will prefer to be planted prior to your first hard freeze. You can push the date back in mild climates or if growing in containers. Just know you’ll have to roll your garden indoors or cover with row covers.
- Use container gardens! Container gardens, because of the ‘raised bed,’ means warmer soil and more sun. These two things are the most important part of having a successful winter garden, so containers are a reliable option for cold weather growing.
- Create a
mini-greenhouse effect with cloches. Cloches are bell-like glass domes often used for tableware, but they’re great options for container garden covers. They’ll keep the heat from sun’s rays enclosed around the plant, and protect your garden from wind. Water less! Know that winter usually means less watering. Plants grow a little more slowly and there’soften winter rains, so be careful as you grow to avoid underwatering.
- Add organic matter. In the winter, soil microorganisms are often less active, which affects how plants grow and intake nutrients. Soil amendments and compost will ensure the plant
asenough nutrients to grow properly.
Benefits of Winter Growing
Although it can be a little more nerve-racking to grow in the winter,