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10 Best Winter Vegetables in Garden

One of the significant challenges in growing winter gardens is where to put them if you don’t know about the greenhouse. 

If you are from 8 and 9 USDA zones, grow vegetables like Broccoli, Radishes, and Brussels sprouts in your winter garden. Semi-hardy crops like Beets, Lettuce, Endives, and Carrots grow well in zones 9a and above. Otherwise, plant Kale, Spinach, or Mustard greens if the temperature dips below 20°F.

Stick with me and continue reading so I can thoroughly guide you and make your table full of green even in winter.

10 Best Winter Vegetables in Garden

 If you plan to group summer crops along the row of winter veggies, you may run out of all due to the unfavorable microclimate. 

category tree of winter vegetables
Here is a smart Winter Vegetable’s Chart.

Before you start investing your sweat in producing winter crops, collect the season extender structure

If you are an early gardener and approach winter crops, get some winter vegetable ideas!

Hardy Vegetables

Hardy vegetables are those vegetables that can withstand hard frosts. Such crops do not lose their composure even in 25°F to 28°F cold temperatures.

Generally, USDA zone 8 and 9 have the coldest temperature that hardy vegetables can tolerate.

Leeks, Turnips, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Radishes, English peas and Collards, are some of the winter hardy vegetables.

1. Broccoli

Broccoli is a hardy plant that tolerates cold temperatures up to 24°F without sustaining damage.

For winter harvest, you should sow the seeds during mid-fall and harvest them all winter.

Cover the plants with newspaper or frost blankets to protect them from consistently cold temperatures.

A dark green colored Broccoli attached to its parent plant body
Broccoli are rich in iron, calcium, and protein but once they start turning yellow the nutrient content starts to diminish affecting the appearance and taste of Broccoli.

Plant Broccoli in full sun and provide them with nutrient-rich, well-draining, porous soil. 

Remember to harvest Broccoli before it begins flowering, usually within two months from seeds.

2. English Peas

Start planting round and firm Peas in the late summer for winter harvest. The Peas prefer loose soil rich in organic manure and germinate under 40-70° F temperature.

As birds love Peas, sow them about an inch deeper and lightly cover them with soil. 

Being a hardy plant, they tolerate light frost, and anything below 25°F could be fatal.

Thus, keep your winter vegetables warm by adding a thick layer of organic mulch. This way, they are safe from frost and get nutrients as well.

3. Turnips

Turnips are another fast-growing winter vegetable and should be planted in the fall to expect harvest all winter.

They can survive cold temperatures up to 23­­°F but will need some protection. So, wisely plant them in a sunny spot.

Sow the Turnips seeds half an inch deep, maintaining an inch distance in airy, loosened soil.

As they detest transplants after having firm rooting, plant them in your winter vegetable garden instead of pots.

Within a month or two, Turnips will be ready to harvest. 

4. Collards

Collards are excellent cold hardy winter crops that tolerate temperatures as low as 10°F.

Like other winter vegetable garden plants, Collards are said to have more flavors with multiple substantial touches of frost.

Collards grow fine in a pot of size 10 to 12 inch. Add peat moss, compost, and crummy soil to prepare a mix.

You should plant Collards in October and harvest them after two or more months of the planting date.

Semi-Hardy Vegetables

Semi-hardy veggies can tolerate light frost and withstand cold temperatures up to 29°F to 32°F only.

They can hold their roots within USDA zones nine and above during winter.

Some semi-hardy vegetables are Beets, Lettuce, Swiss chard, Asian green, Endive, Arugula and Carrots.

1. Carrots

To harvest delicious Carrots in winter, you should finish sowing them in September. 

Remember, Carrots prefer cool conditions but not less than 15°F. Anything less than that can halt the growth and damage the root.

Carrots grow best in sandy, loamy soil with well-drainage. Before planting Carrot seedlings, gently plow the garden using a rake.

freshly pickled carrot
Plant your Carrots in light, loose soil to have nice shaped Carrots. Compact soil tends to make slim, long Carrots.

Most importantly, avoid watering the Carrots in the evening. Too cold water can hurt the plant, resulting in paler, thin roots.

Within 3 to 4 months from seed germination, Carrots will be ready to harvest. 

2. Lettuce

To have a table full of green Lettuce in winter, headstart Lettuce indoors in late August or early September.

Lettuce handles cold temperatures up to 20°F with ease and grows relatively at consistently cold temperatures. 

Get some Lettuce varieties for the winter vegetable garden, including Little gems and winter greens.

Give them rock and stoneless, light, loose soil with well-drainage for optimal growth. 

If you can, feed them low-nitrous fertilizer to give Lettuce an additional push for bigger leaves.

Those Lettuce planted in September will be ready for harvest from January to March.

3. Beets

Like Lettuce, you should plant Beets in mid-summer (i.e., September) if you are aiming for winter harvest.

Winter Beets are sweeter than Beets grown in the warmer seasons. With that said, consistently cold temperature < 25°F forces them to go to seed.

To avoid that utilize frost blankets or floating row fabric. Otherwise, you may try keeping them in a greenhouse.

Provide Beets with sandy loam soil enriched in organic matter of pH 6.5 to 7 for ideal growth.

Once they attain a height of six inches, you can begin harvesting Beet greens throughout the winter.

Ultra-Hardy Vegetables

Ultra-hardy vegetables defy the cold, barren winter months and make your winter vegetable garden green.

These plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 15°F to 20°F. The only ultra-hardy vegetables are Kale, Mustard Greens and Spinach.

1. Mustard Greens

If you are fond of sweet Mustard Greens, sow their seeds in fall 3-5 inches apart in rows 1-2 feet apart.

Being winter crops, Mustard Greens seeds germinate at 55-65°F. But young seedlings can not take temperatures dipping below 20°F.

Thus, give them some protection till they mature. Once maturing, frosts will sweeten the flavor of Mustard Greens.

In about 2-3 months, sweet Mustard Greens will be ready for you to enjoy.

Daniel Drost, a vegetable specialist, says, “temperature >75°F makes Mustards bitter and should be harvested before seed stalk forms.”

2. Kale

You should plant the highly nutritious Kale by August to get tender and tasty Kale from a subtle touch of frost.

As Kale is an ultra-hardy winter vegetable, it can tolerate cold temperatures of 10°F or less. However, they grow slowly in winter.

Plant the seeds half an inch deep and three inches apart in porous, nutrient-rich, fertile soil.

winter vegetable kale
Winter sweetens the taste of Kale due to the conversion of starch into sugar.

Also, ensure they receive full sun and if it gets too cold, aim for mulches to keep the ground warm.

Like other winter crops, Kales will be ready to harvest within 2-3 months from the sowing date.

3. Spinach

Spinach is another surprising ultra-hardy plant that can handle temperatures as low as 20°F.

Although young ones may not enjoy cold temperatures, provide them with light cover as protection.

To harvest in winter, you can plant Spinach in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil in October.

Ensure your Spinach is getting full sun and give them a nitrous compost boost for larger foliage growth.

How to Grow Winter Vegetables in Garden

Winter may wither down delicate, sensitive plants, but they also push away pest invasion. But there come notorious aphids and snails.

Here are some tips on growing winter vegetables in the garden.

  • Sow vegetable seeds in the fall so plants mature before the frost sets in.
  • Protect your plants using frost blankets, garden cloche or polytunnels.
  • Learn about your USDA zones and preplan the planting accordingly.
  • Select a sunny location and prepare a soil mix rich in organic matter.
  • If the temperature dips low frequently, prepare a raised winter garden bed for the vegetable.
  • Top the soil with organic mulches to keep the soil warm.
  • Perform soil moisture test using a moisture meter before watering.

How do I prepare my garden for winter?

Prepare your garden for winter by cleaning up diseased plants, adding organic fertilizer or composts, planting cover crops and dividing plant bulbs.

What plants grow quickly in winter?

Hardy veggies like Kale, Garlic, Cabbage, Onions, and Peas grow figuratively faster, even in winter. Within one or two months from planting, they will be ready to harvest.

How to store garden vegetables for winter?

Store your veggies in a dark, cool place at relatively lower humidity and ensure the room is well-ventilated to avoid rotting. Aim for a dry wooden box to keep the veggies safe.

From Editorial Team 

Provide Winter Plants with Good Ventilation

When planting the veggies, ensure the space among the plants on sunny winter days. This helps keep fungal diseases away. 

If growing the crops in a greenhouse, open its door for 1-2 hours around midday and close it as soon as the sun hides.