Growing Winter Vegetables

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

Swiss Chard, Kohlrabi And Kale

Swiss chard (in the beet plant family) is a great companion plant for cabbage family members, including kohlrabi and curly purple kale. The plants also stage a beautiful edible planting with contrasting colors and leaf textures. Other good cabbage family companions: lettuce, carrots, rosemary, oregano, marigold, nasturtium. Do not plant with beans, tomato, pepper or strawberry.

Photo by: Staff for Tower Hill Botanic Garden at TowerHillBG.org

Staff for Tower Hill Botanic Garden at TowerHillBG.org

Don’t hang up your trowel just because frost is coming. In much of the country, you can tackle growing winter vegetables and expect a handsome harvest. Many vegetables thrive in the cooler temperatures of fall, and where winters are mild these same veggies sail through winter yielding plenty of fresh flavor for your dinner table. Learning which winter vegetables to grow and when to plant them is the secret to starting a winter garden.

Some vegetables are semi-hardy, which means they tolerate light frosts (29 to 32 degrees F) without experiencing damage. The list includes a host of greens, such as leaf lettuce, salad greens, Swiss chard, arugula and endive. Asian greens like mizuna, tatsoi and Chinese cabbage also thrive through light frosts, as does savoy cabbage and radicchio. A few root crops fall into this category, too, such as Irish potatoes, beets, rutabaga and carrots.

Try growing these winter vegetables in spring and fall gardens. In regions with mild winters, including the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Southeast, these veggies can yield all winter long. A few, like lettuce and Swiss chard, need covered with frost blankets if temperatures hover much below freezing for more than a few hours.

Other vegetables that grow in winter are hardy, which means they withstand hard frosts (25 to 28 degrees F) without experiencing damage. A few are exceptionally hardy and tolerate temperatures in the low 20s to upper teens. These cold-weather champs are kale, spinach and collards. Other hardy vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, English peas, kohlrabi and leeks.

Hardy root crops are radishes and turnip, which also yields some greens from the tops. Other hardy greens include kale, mustard greens and collards. Parsley belongs on this list, too, along with winter herbs such as sage, thyme and rosemary.

Hardy winter vegetables are adapted to be growing outdoors in early spring (to yield spring harvests) and again in late summer (to yield fall harvests). In mild winter regions, like the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Southeast, these winter vegetables grow and yield all winter long.

10 Cold-Hardy Winter Vegetables

See All Photos

Shop This Look

Growing winter vegetables offers a few advantages over warm-weather gardens. First, because temperatures are lower, water needs are usually reduced. Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation to make the most of the water you must provide. Pests are typically less of an issue during the cool-season garden season. Keep an eye out for slugs and aphids in mild regions, but in areas where frosts occur with regularity, you shouldn’t experience heavy pest problems.

Determining when to plant your winter vegetables can be a little tricky. Find great resources at your local extension offices. Generally speaking, in Zones 7 to 10 plant in October. Exact timing will differ depending on which winter vegetables you’re growing and when your region’s last frost date is.

Once you know which winter vegetables to grow, choosing the ones you want to try really depends on what your family likes to eat. For hearty soups and stews, include kale, leeks, radicchio, winter herbs and a selection of winter root vegetables. Salads demand winter greens, and stir fries welcome Asian greens, winter herbs, winter root vegetables and Chinese cabbage.

Next Up

Growing and Caring for Hellebores

The gorgeous Lenten rose, or hellebore, is a winter bloomer that delights in even the coldest temperatures.

How to Build a Hoop House to Protect Your Vegetables

Extend your cool-weather growing season and even get a jump on spring with a DIY hoop house frame to cover a raised bed.

Tips for Growing Herbs in Winter

Learn which herbs can grow outdoors in the winter, along with tips on tending an indoor herb garden.

How to Grow Pumpkins

These autumn favorites are one of gardening’s most fun plants to grow — and they’re really a cinch. Learn how to plant pumpkins and how to care for a bumper crop in your garden.

The Winter Benefits of Enriched Bird Food

Master gardener Maureen Gilmer gives tips on feeding birds in the winter.

Road Trip: Winter Garden Stalking in New Orleans

Journey to some of the iconoclastic gardens of the Big Easy.

What to Plant in August

It's not too late to plant, even in late summer. You can still grow short-season veggies, herbs and flowers in August from seeds or transplants.

Ideas for Outdoor Christmas Container Gardens

Deck your container gardens with evergreen boughs and ornaments that hold their own well into the New Year.

Growing Pumpkins in Containers

Raise a crop of pumpkins on a deck or patio—with no garden bed in sight. Learn how to grow pumpkins in pots no matter where you live.

How to Grow Cucumbers in a Pot

Growing cool, crunchy cucumbers in a container is easy if you know the steps. These basics will make them a success.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

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