Winter Vegetable Garden

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

Broccoli has a beauty all its own.

Broccoli has a beauty all its own.

Broccoli has a beauty all its own.

Set your sights on a winter vegetable garden. Growing your own food and savoring those garden-fresh flavors is an amazing experience. In order to succeed with a winter vegetable garden, you need to understand a few basics of growing crops in the chilly season, as well as which vegetables to grow in winter.

Tending a winter vegetable garden is similar to a warm-weather growing experience—with a few key exceptions. First, once temperatures drop, many warm-weather pests and diseases disappear. Cool-season pests may appear, such as slugs and aphids, but the slower pace of cold-weather growing makes staying on top of problems a little easier.

In many regions, winter vegetable gardens don’t demand as much water, since winter rains arrive to help with irrigation chores. Also, plants don’t grow as quickly, so water needs diminish. Rely on soaker hoses and drip irrigation for the most efficient watering, delivering water directly to soil.
 
Another key in the winter vegetable garden is adding organic matter or fertilizer to soil prior to planting. It’s important to prep the winter vegetable garden in this manner because many soil microorganisms won’t be as active during the colder season. Reduced microbial activity affects how plants grow and take up nutrients. Amending soil ensures that ample nutrition is readily available to plant roots.

Winter Gardening Don'ts

See All Photos

Shop This Look

To determine which vegetables to grow in winter, you’ll need to know your area’s USDA Hardiness Zone. That information tells you how low temperatures typically fall in an average winter. This low temperature represents a cut-off point for choosing which crops you can grow unprotected.

Hardy vegetables tolerate hard frosts (25 to 28° F). In other areas, you might need to provide frost protection on occasion throughout winter. Examples of hardy vegetables include English peas, kohlrabi, leeks, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Radish, turnip and collards also fit into the hardy veggie category.

A trio of hardy vegetables can tolerate temperatures from the upper teens to low 20s. These cold-weather winners are kale, spinach and mustard greens. In regions where winters are mild, like the Pacific Northwest, Southeast and Southwest, hardy vegetables thrive outdoors all winter long.

Semi-hardy vegetables tolerate light frosts (29 to 32° F). These veggies include a host of healthy greens, including leaf lettuces, arugula, Asian greens, endive and Swiss chard. Beets, carrots, rutabaga, radicchio and savoy cabbage also fit into this category. These vegetables thrive outdoors all winter long in the mild-winter regions of the Pacific Northwest, Southeast and Southwest.

Winter vegetables need a solid start before winter arrives, because once cold, dark days settle in, plants won’t grow gangbusters, like they do in the summer months. The general rule of thumb for planting a winter vegetable garden in Zones 7 to 10 is to plant during October. In Zone 6, get plants in the ground in late September. Finesse the timing with resources from your local extension office.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Growing Winter Vegetables

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

Ways to Extend Your Harvest This Winter

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

Winter Vegetable Garden Growing Guide

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

Planting Winter Rye

Improve your vegetable garden soil with a cover crop of winter rye, a deep-rooted grain that breaks up hard soil.

Year-Round Gardener and Creative Genius: Niki Jabbour

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

Q&A: Lettuce in the Winter?

Follow this tip to grow green vegetables during winter.

Plant a Winter Window Box

A window box planted with hardy flowers and foliage offers a garden view when it's too cold to stay outside.

Ornamental Edibles: Winter Veggies Pack a Pretty Punch

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

Cool Veggies for Cool Weather

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

Winter Garden Preparation

Follow these tips to put your landscape and garden to bed properly for the winter.

On TV

Fixer Upper

7am | 6c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

House Hunters

2:30pm | 1:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

8pm | 7c

Caribbean Life

9:30pm | 8:30c

Island Life

10pm | 9c

Island Life

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

Caribbean Life

12am | 11c

Caribbean Life

12:30am | 11:30c

Island Life

1am | 12c

Island Life

1:30am | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

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