Winter Vegetables & Plants
- Cool-climate gardeners are faced with short growing seasons. The last frost date and first frost date are at times only 180 days, or less, apart. These gardeners choose cool weather crops like radishes, carrots, cauliflower and cabbage for early spring planting and midsummer harvests. They sow seed again in midsummer for fall harvests. Cool-weather plants are capable of surviving light frost and in this way cool-weather gardeners are able to maximize their short growing season.
- Northern gardeners plant lettuce, radish, carrots, Brussels sprouts, peas and spinach seeds in the late fall before the ground freezes. Seeds are sown in newly hoed rows and covered over with earth. Gardeners water the soil well and cover the seed rows with up to an inch of mulch. By spring, when conditions are right, the seeds naturally germinate and the result is a head-start on a fresh garden patch. Gardeners who sow seed after the ground is frozen cover the seed with potting soil, water then mulch. It shouldn't surprise gardeners that self-seeding crops like tomatoes, squash and pumpkin will also reemerge in spring if mulch and water are applied to the crop's growing area before the first freeze.
- Gardeners successfully extend their root vegetable harvests by placing loose, dry mulch, such as hay or straw, over their onions, carrots and potato plants. By keeping the ground somewhat loose and frost free they harvest root crops as needed throughout the early winter. Unfortunately, cool weather combined with moisture will cause underground crops to rot. Inspect your vegetables, especially potatoes, prior to consumption.
Warm Winter Climates
- In areas with high summer temperatures gardeners find that their crops either die or are very difficult to maintain. Gardeners in Phoenix, Arizona, plant crops in early spring or fall. Broccoli and spinach thrive when planted in October. Neither crop is capable of surviving heat. Tomatoes die back in extreme heat, as well. Some gardeners plant tomatoes in early spring and harvest once before plants succumb to heat. Another way to enjoy fresh tomatoes is to plant hardy starts in October and provide winter protection.
- In warm climates plants such as cacti and succulents bloom in winter making them desirable ornamentals. In colder regions ornamental grass plants provide winter interest as do evergreen plants and vines such as English ivy, holly and Japanese yew.