Hardy vegetables should either make it to your winter meals, or grow with the season. This means you should start planting cool-weather vegetables (autumn) during the right season (summer) so that you can start enjoying a bumper crop in time for winter. Or, you can do it the other way, which is to sow during autumn, let your hardy veggies grow during winter, and enjoy a springtime crop of crisp, delicious produce.
Sounds like a lot of things to remember? Not really. You only need to know that the best vegetables to grow during the winter months are simply the ones that are frost-tolerant. Below are some excellent examples.
What to grow, when
In autumn: it’s best to sow your broad beans so that you can have a bumper crop come spring. The soil stays nutrient-rich, and pests like black flies and slugs aren’t as many as they would be in warmer months.
Asparagus is also a good vegetable to plant in the fall. They are perennial veggies that only require a weed-free bed to thrive. Plus, they’re absolutely delicious eaten on their own, or with your favorite grilled, poached, or fried things.
In winter: garlic is always a tasty addition to just about any dish. Spice up your winter meals by planting individual cloves at least an inch under soil, starting late autumn to early winter.
Onions and spring onions are also best planted around December. If grown correctly, they can already be harvested early the following year.
If you are unsure of the types of vegetables to sow in the cold months in a specific location, it’s best to consult the USDA’s frost-zone map, which is color-coded for easier reference. Or, you can always visit your favorite local gardening center for tips and advice.
What to harvest, when
In autumn and winter: ready for some cabbage soup? Of course you are! Cabbage is a cool-climate vegetable, along with kale and cauliflower. A lot of cabbage varieties are ready to be harvested during autumn and winter, but make sure to wrap them up tightly and store in the fridge so they will keep longer.
Brussels sprouts are another good example of cruciferous veggies that are rich in antioxidants - so they’re kind of like a year-round superfood you can sow and harvest in your own backyard. They’re ready for the picking from early fall to late winter, so keep them cool in the fridge for a hearty cold-weather treat.
If you want a filling and tasty produce that’s also versatile, you can’t go wrong with potatoes. They’re some of the most reliable things to sow because varieties are available for growing all year-round. They also keep well - a cool and dark place is all it takes to keep them from spoiling. And they’re perfect for holiday recipes. You can serve them up mashed, roasted, fried, as soup, or just about any way you like.
The great thing about winter vegetable gardening is that you can have a vitamin and nutrient-rich pantry - a much-needed source to ward off colds and other wintertime illness. You will also have that sense of accomplishment and pride that go with planting and reaping your own produce, even in the most difficult of seasons.