Most people find it easier to plant crops in their gardens during the summer.
Winter gardening is a lot trickier. No matter how well maintained you keep your garden in the warmer months of the year, as soon as frost strikes, not many crops will be able to sustain the extreme weather conditions.
Not all crops are suitable to be planted all year round. It is why there are summer crops and winter crops. You can’t expect summer crop varieties to thrive in winters, and vice-versa.
If you want to keep your garden blooming during the winters, you’ll have to plant winter garden crops.
The question is: Which ones are the best winter crops that you can plant in your garden?
Let’s look at some of the best garden crops that will keep your garden looking alive throughout the winter season in this blog post.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the winter crops, we got you covered:
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Winter Gardening Pro Tip
While the plants are equipped with a genetic ability to sense changes in the atmosphere and adjust accordingly in advance, not all plants can withstand weather extremes, be it hot or cold.
Colder temperatures are known to slow down a plant’s growth in general, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow any crops during winters.
As mentioned above, many winter crop varieties perform quite well even when the temperature falls quite low.
One of the pro tips that will help you achieve a blooming winter garden is to provide the crops with adequate protection, which can be done with the help of covers (a fabric sheet or commercial frost cover). Otherwise, you might end up with some discolored or damaged leaves.
Apart from other crop-specific maintenance tips, this is one tip that will have your crops thriving during the winters!
Best Winter Garden Crops
A winter garden is incomplete without kale. Kale is a hardy winter crop that will survive through the winter with ease well.
In fact, you’ll be surprised to know that as the temperature starts to drop in autumn, kale’s flavor improves noticeably.
Kale is considered to be one of the easiest winter crops to grow as it can withstand freezing temperatures. The right time to plant kale is in August (early to mid), and kale grows best in slightly alkaline soil.
Carrots grown in winters are extremely sweet, so much that they’re often called ‘candy carrots.’
Carrots are a great winter garden crop that improves in flavor as the temperature starts to get colder.
The best time to sow carrot seeds for winter harvesting is mid-summer, followed by deep mulching of the crop bed in November using a layer of straw or shredded leaves (this serves as an insulating layer).
To ensure that carrot crops are able to survive during the winter temperature, the insulating layer should be further topped with a bed sheet or a row cover.
The cover and mulch are removed when it’s finally time to harvest the candy carrots!
Onions are easy to grow in winters. All you have to do is plant them, and they’ll look after themselves during the winter season.
How cool is that? The growing season for onions is fairly long. They’ll start growing in late winter, and they’ll be ready for harvest in late spring.
If you’re growing onions, you’ll have to transplant the young onion seedlings to your garden by the end of August, followed by a protective layer of straw mulch.
If the temperature in your region falls below -23C, you’ll have to add an additional protective layer, such as a floating row cover.
Garlic is a super-easy crop to grow. It is generally sowed during late fall and is harvested by the mid of the summer season.
All you need to make sure is to add lots of mulch and compost to protect the garlic crops from the extreme winter weather as well as to protect it against weeds!
With all the right measures in place, the garlic crop will survive through the winter and bloom when the weather starts getting warmer!
Another winter garden crop that you can consider adding to your garden is cabbage. It comes in multiple varieties for you to choose from.
Overwintering varieties of cabbage are usually sowed in July and August.
A floating row cover ensures that the crop is protected against the winter pests if they’re a common occurrence in your area.
In case you observe that the growth of your cabbage crop is slowing down during the winters, adding finished compost and watering the plant well will help spruce up its growth.
Spinach thrives in winters. These seeds are sowed in late September, and the beds should be covered by polyethylene mini hoop tunnels when the weather starts turning cold.
Giant Winter is a spinach variety that is an excellent choice for winter gardening.
Arugula is one of the best winter crops that you can grow in your garden. You can harvest two arugula varieties – garden and wild.
Garden varieties grow quicker than the wild varieties and have strappy leaves.
Wild arugula varieties grow slower but are more cold-tolerant than the garden varieties. Wild arugula varieties have lobed leaves and also taste better.
More commonly known as lamb’s lettuce or corn salad, it is one of the best winter garden crops.
The plant grows clusters of leaves that are about 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Winter varieties of Mache are usually direct-seeded during the later summer.
It self-sows, and once the cluster of leaves starts to grow, simply slice the stem at soil level and enjoy it fresh in your salads!
9. Asian Greens
The next in the list of best winter crops for your garden is the Asian greens. There are numerous amazing types of Asian greens that you can grow in the winter months.
Some of the best winter varieties include tatsoi, mizuna, pac choi, and mustard. They grow fast and offer an excellent range of colors, foliage textures, and flavors.
They are direct-seeded early in September. If you’re growing them indoors, the seedlings must be transferred to the garden bed latest by mid-September.
Peas should be planted in your garden by mid of August. The peas will sustain the winter temperature well with the right kind of protection.
Once the spring season strikes, the overwintered peas will start growing again.
You can either harvest the peas before the frost season hits or provide adequate protection to the crops if you wish to harvest the crop later into the winter.
Beets should be planted at least 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost is expected. They’re harvested when the baby greens mature into vitamin-rich, delicious roots.
Beets can be left in the ground throughout the winter. The only thing you have to be careful about is to mulch the soil so that the roots are protected when the weather gets exceedingly cold.
Lettuce is surely one of the best winter garden crops. The hardy varieties of lettuce do exceptionally well even in very cold temperatures.
Varieties like Winter Marvel, Red Salad Bowl, and Winter Density grow dense rosettes and attractive leaves during the winter months, giving your winter garden a breathtakingly refreshing look!
The Evergreen Hardy White variety of Scallions is a superstar for your winter garden. It is very hardy and sustains winters exceptionally well.
They produce tender white-colored stalks and long green-colored tops. They’re direct-sowed in September and harvested first in mid of November.
With the right protection, you’ll; have a steady supply of flavorful scallions through the winters.
14. Broad Beans
They’re slow-growing but extremely delicious. They’re great to be grown in winters. Broad beans can stand winters extremely well and will grow healthily throughout the winter months.
They should be planted late in the fall. In areas that receive lots of snow, they should be staked well. The best time to harvest broad beans is early in spring when the pods become fat.
Another winter garden crop on the list of best winter crops is Broccoli. Broccoli grows great in winters. It can survive temperatures as low as 28F.
It should be planted late in the summer season if you wish to get an early winter broccoli crop. If the winter season in your area is mild, you should plant the crop in fall to be able to harvest it in winters.
You’ll be amazed to know that cauliflower can survive temperatures as low as 10F. It is one of the best winter garden crops that you can plant.
Although it survives well in colder months, it is not something beginner-level gardeners can handle easily.
Growing cauliflower can be challenging, and you should only try planting it in your garden if you’ve prior winter gardening experience.
You shouldn’t just let your garden be during the winter months.
As much as a blooming garden is important during summers, it is equally so when the temperature gets cold.
For people who’re fond of having colorful and lively gardens, winter months can be depressing.
However, if you know just the right plants to grow in your winter garden, you can enjoy your favorite hobby all year long!