There’s no need to give up on the food garden during fall and winter.
Nutritional powerhouses such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, and broad beans can be grown during the cool seasons in many climates and there are plenty of other plants that thrive in cool weather, providing a steady supply of fresh produce.
Leafy salad greens, which prefer cooler temperatures, include arugula (salad rocket), cabbage, chard, chervil, chicories (French Endive/Belgian Endive, Radicchio, Sugarloaf), collard greens, coriander (cilantro), kohlrabi, lettuces, mustard greens, parsley, spinach, and winter purslane. Some of these greens will grow throughout the winter in many climates.
Root vegetables also like cool weather. This group includes beets, carrots, garlic, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips. Root vegetables can be grown throughout the winter in most climates and even when harvested in the fall, the produce stores well so it can be consumed over the winter months.
If you live in a cooler climate, there are a number of ways that you can extend the growing season to get more fall and winter produce, such as growing your plants inside cloches, cold frames, or greenhouses or protecting them with floating row covers or mulch (peat moss, shredded bark, sawdust from untreated wood, etc.). Even growing crops in raised beds can increase the temperature of the soil slightly (though this is not as effective as other methods).
Many successful fall and winter gardeners are those who are willing to experiment, trying different cold protection approaches and plant varieties. Some gardeners have luck well beyond the prescribed growing season, finding varieties that respond positively to the particular growing conditions they provide.
- Adams, S., GardenWise. (n.d.). “Growing Root Vegetable Crops.” GardenWiseOnline.ca.
- BBC Gardening Guides. (2011). “About Winter Salads.” BBC.co.uk.
- Dowding, C. (2008). Salad Leaves for All Seasons: Organic Growing from Pot to Plot. Devon, UK: Green Books Ltd.
- Washington State University. (n.d.). “Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardens.” Gardening.WSU.edu.