Summer has always been synonymous with a season of busy planting and growing of vegetables. But when the winter season starts to set in, the vegetable plots are often left barren and neglected. Without that much sun and the soil covered with snow, it might be hard to believe that some of your favorite vegetables could thrive in this cold season.
But there are certain cool season vegetables that can cope well with the cold climate, giving you a constant source of fresh produce to use for your homemade meals.
Planting cool season vegetables will take some planning and scheduling. You need to start planting a few weeks before the last frost in spring and when temperatures hover between 65 – 80F degrees.
In fact, a lot of these vegetables become tastier and crispy due to the cool weather. It’s also important to harvest these vegetables before the temperature becomes hotter to prevent them from becoming bitter or may result to bolting.
Whether you’re looking forward to fresh salads or vegetable stir-fry while cooped up inside your home in winter, you’ll certainly find fresh produce thriving in the garden even while it snows. Here are the vegetables worth considering if you’re looking to see some greens and nourish your family with home-grown crops this winter.
Asparagus may take some time and work before they can be fully established, but these vegetables can continue to grow and be harvested for approximately 25 years. Asparagus is actually a perennial crop, but it has the most potential when planted in early spring.
If you’re planning to plant in autumn, consider the Pacific 2000 and Pacific Purple varieties. You don’t want to harvest your asparagus in the first year, but the succeeding years should give you plenty of asparagus spears to consume.
Carrots actually taste sweeter when they grow in a cool and adequately moist climate, making them one of the perfect crops to grow in the cold seasons. Carrots are best planted at least two weeks away from the last frost in spring.
Carrots like well-aerated soil with plenty of drainages. They don’t like rocks and weeds as these could hinder roots from growing larger and in better shapes underground. They typically mature in 60 days, but if you like baby carrots, you can opt to harvest a little earlier. To make sure that your carrots are ready to harvest, check the roots out and see if they’re huge enough to eat.
Cold hardy and frost-tolerant, broccoli is one of the best crops to plant and grow in the cold season. Ideally, broccoli should be planted 4-6 weeks before the spring’s last frost, and they usually fare well as the weather condition becomes increasingly colder.
Alternatively, you can plant broccoli as summer ends and you can harvest them in fall. A lot of broccoli varieties such as Patron, Gypsy, and Early Green mature in 60 days. Be careful about temperature hiking up because broccoli is quick to bolt in warmer weather.
If you enjoy green salads well into the winter, then it’s a good idea to plant lettuce at the end of summer since it thrives well in spring climate. Lettuce is a staple crop in most salads, but you might as well plant some arugulas and Swiss chards alongside lettuce to get the most variety in your salad. If you like some baby lettuce come harvest time, then don’t thin out the seedlings. Otherwise, you’ll get fuller heads of lettuce.
Lettuce typically matures in 60 days but you can cut out leaves anytime. And if you want to have lettuce the whole year round, plant lettuce in a shady area where there’s plenty of drainage and moisture to mimic the cold climate they love.
Peas are cold weather-loving plants that can thrive well even when temperature drops to 25F degrees. Peas certainly love the cold climate, and hate the warm season. If you’d like to harvest peas in autumn, plant them three months away from the first light frost.
Most peas need a fence to climb on as they grow, but there are upright varieties that can grow without such support. Most varieties of peas mature in 60 days, but you can use a protective frame cover during the harsh frost to extend the harvesting period for another 3-4 weeks.
Cabbages like soil that is rich in compost. This is because it feeds the cabbages' tender and tasty leaves. Cabbages can tolerate light frost. However, it can't seed if it is exposed to temperatures below 40 F for an extended period.
You can begin planting the seedlings around four weeks before spring’s last frost, and you can harvest after 90 days. Just make sure though that the temperature is between 40-70F degrees and harvest before a hard freeze.
There are plenty of cabbage varieties but if you’re looking to add some color to your salad or dish, try the Ruby Ball and Super Red which are well-known for their red leaves.
Also known as tubers, potatoes can thrive in light frost but not in a hard freeze. Potatoes are best planted 15-60 days before the last frost and require a good amount of protection from hard freeze. You can pile a layer of mulch to insulate the potatoes from the freeze, but also make sure to plant them in a shady area since sunlight can make potatoes turn green.
One of the most frost-tolerant root crops in the cold season is beet. Known for its purple roots that’s also versatile in cooking. You can bake and boil the roots while the stems can be sauteed and steamed. Beet is easy to grow in the cool season and is best planted in temperatures between 40F to 85F in early spring.
It needs well-drained soil and full sun but can thrive even in partial shade. If planting in winter, it’s best to schedule sowing 10 weeks before predicted heavy frost so that beets are ready for harvesting by then.
Beets develop the best flavor when they have great access to sunlight and local climate. Also make sure that you keep weeds away and keep an eye on pests like the leafminer.
Parsley is a biennial crop with leaves valued for its flavors. Parsley is easy to plant both in a container or directly into the ground, but it pays to remember sowing the seeds one month before the last frost. Also, you can help quicken the germination process by leaving the seeds soaking in water overnight before planting.
It is best to plant parsley in rich and loamy soil with an adequate amount of moisture. The plant also likes both the sun and the shade. Although parsley likes water, it also tolerates drought quite well. Meaning, parsley is versatile enough to thrive in both environments. A little known fact is that parsley also grows well when planted alongside tomatoes, corn and even roses.
You can harvest parsley in 3 ways, depending on the stage of growth. On the first year, you can harvest the leaves. On the second year, the leaves will be sparse but you can let the plant bloom so you can collect the seeds for your next planting. You can also harvest the roots which can provide your salad with excellent flavors.
Now you can activate your vegetable plots that used to sleep during winter. Planting cool season crops a few weeks before the last frost of spring, and taking care of them in the case of the hard freeze will ensure you’ll have something fresh to harvest and eat even when the temperature drops in winter.