Winter does not necessarily mean the end of the growing season. There are still many vegetables that not only grow well during the winter, but thrive!
Homesteading is all about being a self sufficient as possible. It is important to use time and the seasons to your advantage.
Winter is a time for the earth to heal itself from the harsh dry summers and rest. But this can be a prime time for some vegetable to get a “jump start” on spring.
Many homesteaders have greenhouses and can grow fresh vegetables year round. For those that do not, you can still take advantage of the winter growing season.
There is not a lot of special planning that goes into planting winter variety vegetable. You just need seeds and or starter plants.
In this article, I am going to cover 10 vegetables that excel in the winter. Number 10 is a special bonus.
Best Vegetables For Winter Growing
Garlic is used in many recipes and in some cases used as herbal remedies. Garlic is probably one of the easiest plants to grow.
Garlic starts from a bulb or onion, and is usually planted at 3 inches into well-tilled soil. You can lightly fertilize then leave nature to do the rest.
As garlic grows, it will produce a seed head. It is a good idea to leave as many of these to fall as possible. They will root and produce bulbs for the following year.
Onions, like garlic, are used in many recipes and as a side garnish, or just on a sandwich.
When it comes to planting, onions often are planted in “onion sets” with the bulb being completely in the soil, root side down, and the tip “crown” just above the ground.
Onions do well over the winter months even as the ground freezes. However, if you live in areas where the ground freezes excessively hard, some ground mulch around the onions is a good idea.
Winter Gem Lettuce:
This is the latest variety of lettuce that is making waves because of its flavor. This lettuce can not only be planted during winter, but it grows very well all winter.
You will, however, need to protect them if frost threatens. Sow a few at a time directly into the ground at two-week intervals from the end of April through to the end of May. This ensures you get a continuous supply.
The hearty lettuce is ready to harvest 8 to 12 weeks later.
Spinach is a great green for salads or to cook as a side dish. It not only does well during the winter but is very healthy, just look what it did for Popeye!
Sow spinach seeds thinly, 15mm deep in rows 30 cm apart and, as long as the weather isn’t really cold, they’ll germinate in 5 to 9 days.
Make successive sowings for a continuous supply. Harvest from July, picking smaller leaves for salads.
The key to good spinach is a good start. Keep it moist and cool and do not be shy about fertilizing.
Who does not like good coleslaw or hearty cabbage soup? You can grow healthy cabbage plants right through winter without the worry of pests.
Plant your cabbage plant in soft soil up to the first growth of leaves. If you are sowing seeds, plant at least 9 inches apart. The reason is healthy cabbage plants can get very large.
You can use more spacing if room allows it. If there is a threat of frost, you will need to cover them.
You will want to uncover as soon as possible to prevent damage or stunted growth.
All onions are easy to grow over winter, but shallots are the best money-saver as they are more expensive in the grocery store than ordinary onions.
Plant the mini bulbs, called sets, so the tip just protrudes through the soil. Leave a space of 18cm between each one.
To keep shallots growing, you will need to make sure the soil drains well so they stay somewhat dry.
Harvest in June after the leaves turn yellow. They are delicious added to recipes.
Cauliflower is one of the best vegetables to grow in winter because you do not have to worry about caterpillars eating your crop when it’s cold!
The seedlings must be planted about 60cm apart and grown in richly fertilized soil, which should never be allowed to dry out.
Sow at intervals so that you can have fresh cauliflower throughout the year.
Fall is the best time to sow delicious broad beans as they get established in the still-warm soil and can be left over winter for an early taste of spring later in the year.
Sow seeds at a depth of 5 to 10 cm, with about 15 to 20 cm between plants, and pick to eat from August.
Broad beans grow best in a sunny spot sheltered from the wind. They enjoy rich, moist, well-drained soil.
The podded beans are best eaten young. You can also snip off the green tops after the first pods appear. They are delicious when simply wilted with butter.
Snap peas are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in winter. Sow the seeds directly into the ground, about 10 cm apart, then keep them moist to encourage germination.
This is a climbing plant so make sure each pea plant has something to climb up. a stake or trellis will do.
Severe frost might kill your pea plants, so cover them up if the temperatures are going to dip below zero.
Once they start producing pods, make sure you pick them regularly, because the more you pick, the more the plants produce.
Special, Fruit Trees:
Most fruit trees, like apple and pear, should be planted any time from April through winter. You need to buy a small but established tree. The reason for this is it is hard to grow good cropping trees from seed.
Bare root trees are cheaper as it saves on bulky delivery, or small potted trees are a good choice. Plant now and harvest the fruit from late next summer.
If space is a concern, you may want to consider dwarf fruit trees. With proper care they can produce just as well as their larger counterparts.
Depending on the area you live in, the productivity of these vegetables can vary. But with proper planning and care they can thrive.
Remember that above ground greens can freeze under frost. Cover them at night and remove in the morning.
Many people start seeds during the winter in small containers and simply keep them in the house.
This can give you a head start on the spring planting season. You will already have seedlings ready to set out.
We have covered some of the most favored winter vegetables. There are more that can be successfully grown in the winter.
We picked these because they are easy and produce great results. Check them out for yourself and your homestead!