Cool Veggies for Cool Weather

Growing attractive edibles right into, and even through, the winter.
cool veg1

cool veg1

Does gardening never end? Not complaining:  I love planting, harvesting, enjoying my little beds and containers pretty much through all seasons, even in the heat of summer and mid-winter’s chills. Still, sometimes it’d be nice to sit down awhile, take it easy. 

But no…there are all sorts of stuff I can and should be doing to keep my small garden productive for as long as possible. Trying to be a busy ant, not a lazy grasshopper.

Enter cool-season veggies and herbs. I’m starting seeds and looking for pots of plants that love the cool, short days of fall, many which will also survive hard freezes to bridge my garden from summer until spring. Even in the vegetable garden.

They are called cool-season plants, these lettuces and collards, onions, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, parsley, and the like, because they thrive in cool or even cold weather and suffer or die in hot weather. This means they have a fairly short growing season and even smaller small window of opportunity for planting. 

Of course, some of them can be planted in the spring in parts of the country with very mild summers. My English garden has a summer that is ideal for stuff I normally plant for winter back home in Mississippi. Ditto for big swaths of the U.S. and Canada, where summers rarely get so hot the tomatoes drop their flowers, and lettuce can grow all summer.  

But for the most part of the country they are planted in late summer or early fall to be harvested before really cold weather sets in, or in late winter or early spring to get going and done with before hot summer nights make them wilt or go to flower.

Luckily, they grow in a time when insects are less active, and generally when there is more natural rainfall to reduce watering needs. 

So I am:

  • Digging up my faded pepper plants, pulling out the weeds that took over the corn rows, and working more compost into the soil.
  • Adding lime as recommended by a soil test to an acidic garden site so it will be working full strength by spring
  • Seeding some fast-growing greens like lettuce, chard, beets, and edible-pod peas.
  • Setting out small transplants of collards, cabbage, and broccoli.
  • Pushing garlic cloves into small hills so they will not stay too wet in the winter rains.
  • Watering new plants and seeded areas frequently at first, to ensure they get off to a strong, deep rooted start.
  • Covering stuff with netting to help reduce insect pests which are more rampant in the late summer, to protect them until cool weather slows them down.
  • Using natural insecticides to reduce pest problems without using chemicals on tender edibles. 
  • Overstuffing containers with attractive veggies and a few edible flowers.
  • Sowing seed for overwintering “green manure” plants such as clover and ryegrass, to reduce winter erosion and to build up the soil for next summer’s garden.

Main thing is, I am not sitting on my summer laurels. Too much that can be planted in the fall to get me through the winter and well into next spring - by which time hopefully my attitude will be more grateful for the ability to garden all year. 

Keep Reading

Next Up

Ornamental Edibles: Winter Veggies Pack a Pretty Punch

The great thing about winter veggies is the wide variety of texture they offer.

Growing Winter Vegetables

Save money and grow food even when it's cold outside by growing your own fresh crop of winter veggies.

Q&A: Lettuce in the Winter?

Follow this tip to grow green vegetables during winter.

Ways to Extend Your Harvest This Winter

Get the most out of your garden this winter with these simple tips.

Winter Vegetable Garden

Discover easy ways to keep your winter vegetable garden growing strong—and savor a long harvest.

Year-Round Gardener and Creative Genius: Niki Jabbour

See how this seasoned gardener grows fresh produce all year long.

It's Not Too Late to Plant Your Fall Greens. Here's How!

Find out from the experts at HGTV what vegetables do best in cool-weather fall gardens.

Winter Vegetable Garden Growing Guide

With a few steps and some planning, you can enjoy garden fresh vegetables all winter.

Winter Container Gardens

Dress up a few containers with cool-season flowers, vegetables and herbs, to keep the color coming as winter arrives.

On TV

Desert Flippers

7:30am | 6:30c

Desert Flippers

8:30am | 7:30c

Desert Flippers

9:30am | 8:30c

Flip or Flop

10am | 9c

Flip or Flop

10:30am | 9:30c

Flip or Flop

11am | 10c

Flip or Flop

11:30am | 10:30c

Flip or Flop

12pm | 11c

Flip or Flop

12:30pm | 11:30c

Flip or Flop

1pm | 12c

Flip or Flop

1:30pm | 12:30c
2pm | 1c

House Hunters

2:30pm | 1:30c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Love It or List It

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.