Spring and summer are great for your garden, but you can still get fresh-grown herbs and produce from your garden in the cooler months with a little planning. Choosing the right crops for your fall and winter garden is a matter of knowing about your climate and growing conditions.
We can’t completely predict the weather, of course, but it makes a big difference in your success as a winter gardener.
Cool Weather Vegetables
What’s more wholesome than a meal of soup and salad? Winter salad greens include such options as various lettuces, mustard greens, Swiss chard, radicchio, arugula, kale, and spinach. Frost-resistant and easy to grow, they make the perfect cool-season crop and can even be grown indoors.
Round out those greens with some radishes, beets, turnips, and carrots, all of which can survive the cold quite well. Tasty and nutritious, the greens can even be eaten in salads, stir-fries, and more.
Certain cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi, can all add some fresh "green" to your diet in the off-season. These plants grow well in colder temperatures and are cold-hardy. And these vegetables often taste better after being exposed to frost! Plant these vegetables at the end of summer or in fall so that they get the optimal temperatures for germination. They’ll have the chance to grow and establish before the day shortens.
Certain perennial vegetables, like asparagus, must survive the cold to come up year after year. It takes a few years of patience to establish asparagus, but the wait is well worth it. It’s a sign of the coming spring and a welcome burst of flavor after the winter months in salads, stir-fries, and more.
Storing Your Harvest
One last thought: vegetables you grow over the summer can serve you through the winter as long as you have a storage plan. You have options such as canning and other forms of long-term storage. But don’t forget butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squashes store well. Pumpkins, especially the varieties grown for cooking, last for months if stored properly, too.
With a little planning, a home garden can keep a family supplied with fresh vegetables all year long.
Written by Teresa Chandler