Can You Grow Vegetables in the Winter?

Yes, you can grow vegetables in the winter, however, some stipulations must be met. Not all vegetables can withstand blistering cold temperatures. Some will die when the cold air frosts their leaves, while others will refuse to grow at all if they are not in a warm climate. 

The ability to grow vegetables in the winter will depend on a variety of aspects. These aspects may include where the vegetable is planted, the climate, the type of plant, and whether it is indoors or outdoors. Gardening in the winter can be tricky, but it isn’t impossible. 

Some of the key aspects we will discuss in this article are outlined below.

  • Benefits of winter gardening
  • The best winter vegetables
  • Where to grow winter vegetables
  • Winter vegetable FAQs

Keep reading to understand everything you need to know about growing vegetables in the winter. 

Snow in a vegetable garden with a greenhouse

Benefits of Winter Gardening

Although the work that goes into gardening is extended through the winter months, the increased benefits of gardening year-round are sure to outweigh the negatives. 

Some key benefits of winter gardening include:

  • Natural preservation
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Save money
  • Increase health

Natural Preservation

Winter gardening may be easier than summer gardening. If you can plant a winter garden in an area where you won’t freeze while tending it, you may decide that winter gardens are preferred over summer gardens.

During the winter months, pests tend to hide as they don’t like the cold temperatures.

Because of this, winter gardeners don’t have to worry about treating the vegetables with pesticides as the crops naturally preserve themselves. This also saves on costs.

Environmentally Friendly 

Winter gardening is environmentally friendly as it helps decrease the carbon footprint. In the wintertime, we often increase our carbon footprint as we begin to use the central heating systems along with increased usage of pharmaceutical companies which are known to negatively impact the environment. 

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How does winter gardening help? Production of vegetables stateside during the winter months decreases how many imported goods we need resulting in less carbon released into the air.

Save Money

Did you know that producing your garden will help you save money? Sure, gardening takes time and effort. But knowing you are saving money by putting forth that effort and enjoying the fruits of your labor is rewarding. 

Grocery stores tend to increase the price of fruits and vegetables during the winter months as the cost to import increases. Not only are you helping the environment, but you’re also saving money by winter gardening. 

Increase Health

Health benefits associated with homegrown produce in the winter are reason enough to start a winter vegetable garden. 

When the cold weather hits, we tend to become less active and consume preserved foods. This means the additional carbs we are eating to keep warm have nowhere to go but stay stored in our bodies.

Increasing vegetable consumption in the winter will help you feel better and have more energy.

The essential nutrients in vegetables will also help increase your immune system resulting in better health throughout the cold and flu season. 

The Best Winter Vegetables

Where you live and the winter climate of that region will determine the best vegetables for you to plant in your winter garden. For instance, you will not plant the same outdoor winter vegetables in Colorado as you would in Southern California due to the varying winter weather temperatures. 

Semi-hardy and hardy vegetables are the ones you want to plant for your winter garden. 

Semi-hardy vegetables can withstand temperatures as low as 29 degrees Fahrenheit or a light frost. Hardy vegetables can withstand even lower temperatures around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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Some of these hardy and semi-hardy vegetables are root crops, while others are leafy greens. If growing winter vegetables in Colorado, you will most likely want to plant hardy vegetables. If looking for winter vegetables to plant in Southern California, you’re safe planting hardy or semi-hardy crops. 

Here is a list of vegetables to plant in the fall for your winter garden.

Semi-Hardy Vegetables:

  • Leaf lettuce
  • Salad greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Arugula
  • Endive
  • Mizuna
  • Tatsoi
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Radicchio
  • Irish potatoes
  • Beets
  • Rutabaga
  • Carrots

Hardy Vegetables: 

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collards
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • English peas
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Mustard greens

It is vital to note that not all of these vegetables will survive the bitter cold temperatures. Some winter crops do best in the fall or early spring, depending on the climate.

If you’re in an area where temperatures are regularly below 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, you may consider planting your winter garden in a greenhouse or indoors. 

Where to Grow Winter Vegetables

Knowing when and where to grow winter vegetables is essential to fruition. If you live in regions where temperatures drop below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, you most likely will not see an outdoor winter garden produce. 

Therefore, growing the vegetables indoors or in a greenhouse is the only way to see results. 

If you live in a region where temperatures do not fall below 25 degrees, you will see success in planting hardy winter crops outdoors. While they are known to withstand these temperatures, a close eye must be kept on them to ensure they are not freezing.

Lastly, if you live in a region with mild winters where temperatures don’t fall below 30 degrees, both hardy and semi-hardy vegetables are likely to succeed outdoors.

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Understanding what types of vegetables thrive in colder weather and how they pertain to your region will help you determine your winter vegetable garden plans. 

Winter Vegetable Gardening FAQs

What vegetables can you plant in winter? 

To yield the best results, plant hardy, and semi-hardy vegetables in the winter. These plants range from leafy greens to root vegetables that are perfect in soups and other hearty dishes. Common winter root vegetables are turnips, radishes, and Irish potatoes. The best leafy greens for winter gardening are kale, collards, and arugula. 

Can you grow tomatoes in winter?

Tomatoes are a warm-weather crop that does not hold up well in cold temperatures. Therefore, planting tomatoes outdoors in winter weather will not yield produce. 

However, if you have a greenhouse or a dedicated spot indoors, tomatoes can be grown in the wintertime. Winter tomatoes are typically smaller than summer tomatoes as they are not proliferating. 

Can I grow vegetables in the winter indoors?

You most certainly can grow vegetables in the winter indoors. If you’re not interested in the hardy and semi-hardy vegetables that can grow outdoors in the winter, growing vegetables indoors is always an option. 

Keep in mind that indoor vegetables typically do not receive the nutrients they need to grow big and plump as they do in the summer months. Therefore, your product won’t be as impressive.

Can you start a vegetable garden in the winter?

Starting a vegetable garden in the winter is a tricky task. For winter vegetables to thrive, they need to be planted well before winter starts to ensure their root systems become established before the cold weather hits. 

The best time to plant your winter garden is in October. This gives the plants time to accustom themselves to the soil and get a head start from the cold.