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How to Grow Produce in the Winter

by Shawn Barrington 02 Jan 2024

Typically, you think of planting your garden in the spring and summer and harvesting in the fall. However, some people prefer to plant some produce late in the season and allow them to stay stagnant during the winter and harvest during the spring. Growing plants in the winter time can allow you to have your own vegetables earlier in the spring. Check out how you can plant during the winter and which plants you should grow over the winter.

How to Over-Winter Your Plants

1. Consider where your plants will be located. You will want to plan where winter obstacles like snow drifts might be located when snow falls. Also, make sure that your plants will have as much sunlight as possible - that means avoid putting them next to walls.

Gardening in the Winter

2. Loosen the soil in the area with a garden fork or shovel. You’ll want to dig at least 1 foot down into the ground and turn the soil. Also, consider adding some compost to the mix.

3. Plant your over-wintering seeds in mid- to late summer. You can also start more sensitive seedlings under lights if it’s too hot outside during that time. You’ll also need to make sure that the plant has enough time to grow a strong root system before the winter weather sets in.

4. Mulch your plants when you first place them in the summer and again in late autumn. Place a heavy layer of straw, leaves or compost around the plant to guard the soil during the winter. Remove the layer when the spring sun begins to warm. Mulch again after you remove the layer. If you lose a few plants, don’t get discouraged. Many professional farms and planters will lose plants during the overwintering process.

Moving plants indoors Depending on your environment, over-wintering plants outside might not work out. Instead you might need to move your plants indoors. Really, these plants don’t need special treatment. Just make sure that they are warm and watered sufficiently. Bringing a plant indoors can be tricky because you’ll have to choose a place that has enough natural light for the plant to survive. You’ll also need to ensure that the temperature stays between 60-70 degrees and doesn’t dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. With many tropical plants, air humidity might also be a factor.

What plants to grow during the winter

Onions. Onions are great for winter growth because they tend to take care of themselves. They also have a long growing season.

Garlic. Similar to onions, they have a long growing season and are easier to grow.

Perpetual Spinach is an excellent plant that you can cut and grow again. Early autumn sowings will keep you full with tender young leaves throughout winter and regular harvesting during the summer.

Broad beans. The great thing about broad beans is that when they are sown during the fall, they can be harvested in spring - up to a month earlier than spring sown plants.

Peas. The trick to growing peas during the winter is to find a strong variety like “Kelvedon Wonder” or “Meteor.”

Growing in a greenhouse during the winter

There are many items that thrive in cooler temperatures but might not do well in a frozen ground. Instead these plants would do well inside of a greenhouse or a garage.

Lettuce. Lettuce is one of the great plants that grows well in cooler temperatures.

Carrots. Some brands of carrots - like “Nantes Frubund” - are great for winter growth.

Cabbage. Cabbage is great for growers in the northern U.S. Usually, southern states don’t get cold enough to for them to grow a good-sized head.

Broccoli. Broccoli is another great vegetable to start growing at the end of the summer season.

Cauliflower. This is similar to broccoli in that it might not grow well in the south.

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