If you love gardening and fresh vegetables, it might be hard to see winter arrive. After all, the garden is going to be gone once frost hits, right?
Well, some crops will be gone — tomatoes and corn, certainly. But a surprising amount of vegetables and other crops can be grown in the fall and even into the winter. Try these for variety.
Leafy Green Vegetables
If you have an idea that leafy green vegetables are delicate and shrink at first frost, think again. It’s true of some leafy greens, but not all. Leafy greens that are low to the ground absorb heat from the earth because of the proximity. They are therefore slow to freeze. The greenery also augments their energy absorption from the sun. Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens and kale will all grow nicely until the weather hits a steady 20 degrees Farenheit. Look for late summer and Fall varieties of cabbage, such as vantage point.
Why does it seem like root vegetables and cold temperatures go together so nicely in cooking, as in pot roasts with carrots and potatoes? Well, in the days before vegetables could be flown in to your local grocery store from all around the world, they were the only vegetables that kept growing once the weather got cold. The ground protects them, to some degree.
Beets, carrots and radishes will grace your gardenuntil the temperature hits the high 20 degrees Farenheit. Rutabagas and turnips can grow until the temperature hits 20 degrees Farenheit.
If your green thumb cries out to be used during the colder months, turn to herbs. They will also go well with the vegetables.
You can also have an herb garden during the colder months by growing them indoors, in containers. Be sure that any container you buy has excellent drainage at the bottom. The bottom of containers need to be covered in porous material, so draining can take place and root rot — a condition caused by too much water — doesn’t set in.
Basil will thrive indoors in winter in containers, as long as it can receive 6 full hours of sunlight. It grows well indoors for the winter in well-drained containers. It’s an herb that complements most dishes, from pasta to roast meat. It can also be made into pesto for pasta and other sauces.
Chives also grow well during the winter. They’re slightly onion-like in flavor and go well with soups, potatoes and dips.
Rosemary will be robust in the winter as long as there is enough sun. It needs a few hours of sun or partial shade per day. Rosemary is a great herb for roast meats.
Many ornamentals are another plant that can be grown in colder climates.
Evergreens are good choices for winter, and they will make your garden look vibrant even during the snow. Wintergreen, for example, tastes like mint and can be harvested for the flavor. Holly is another ornamental that will grow all year and sprout jewel-like red berries in the winter.
Container gardens are also a good way to grow ornamentals. Dwarf spruce and cypress are particularly hardy during the winter months.
Growing doesn’t stop because the weather turns cold. You can be rewarded with healthy eating and vibrant gardens all year long.