Before I started gardening I thought nothing could grow in the cold. Man, was I wrong. Not only can a pretty large variety of edible plants grow in the fall and winter months, some food grows better when it’s cold. I’m sharing 12 crops to grow in the winter so you can easily add delicious homegrown food to your meal plans in the coming season.
Clearly, summer is working overtime this year in most of the country. Here we are in November and still wearing tank tops. Fingers crossed this beautiful weather lasts until my 28th on Thursday – so I can turn up in the backyard with the kids in style. LOL!
Back to growing food, I remember a few years ago, I grew the best collard greens I’ve ever tasted in December/January. Now, granted, it’s not a very harsh winter down here in the deep south. We wear coats when it hits 60°. Since most of our readers are in Brooklyn (whad’up!) I’ll share some tools and techniques that help gardeners in the colder regions get a very good turn out in near freezing temps.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Mulching the soil is essential year round. During the summer months it’s important to use mulch to keep the soil moist. The sun can quickly evaporate all your watering efforts and leave you with dry, cracked earth – turning your beautiful garden into a desert. Using mulch for your garden in the winter is critical for keeping the soil warm enough to grow things.
Some easy and economical options for mulch are – pine needles, woodchips, dried (shredded) leaves, hay, grass clippings. All of these can be easily sourced and most are free with a little extra work.
Tree companies are sometimes willing to dump loads of woodchips at your garden space free of charge. Call around and see what you can find for free before investing in mulch.
Cold frames are cute little boxes that stay in the garden permanently. I’ve seen them made of old windows and wood planks. They add extra warmth to the soils and plants inside them. Extra heat can be added, turning the cold frame into a “hot bed”, by adding heated cables or a layer of decomposing manure under the soil of the cold frame. This stops the soil inside the cold frame from freezing.
If you have the space for a greenhouse, you’re the real MVP! It can be an investment but if you’re serious about growing food year round – invest! A green house makes your options for growing practically unlimited. You can create a year-round controlled environment where all sorts of edible goodies can flourish. We’re working toward raising funds for our greenhouse project (along with some other cool programs for our garden) now. If you love us and want to help our garden grow, feel free to donate to a worthy cause! DONATE HERE!
If you’re doubting whether a greenhouse is worth the time and investment, check out this amazing brotha growing 1 million pounds of food, and 10,000 fish in freezing Wisconsin!
Greenhouses can be as large or small as needed and can be made with simple materials like PVC and clear plastic sheeting. Of course, you get what you pay for so a sturdier structure will come at a higher price. But, a DIY greenhouse that is well maintained will withstand a few growing seasons with no problem.
12 Crops to Grow in the Winter
These 12 crops to grow in the winter will help you keep nutritious, organic food on the table year round.
• Leaf Lettuce
• Snow Peas
• Swiss Chard
Using the methods listed above to manage soil temperatures and planting foods that grow well in lower temperatures are the keys to getting a good turn out when planting late in the year. Always remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you have the will to grow your own food, it can be done. Mulching, cold frames, or even planting indoors in pots, are all options for getting fresh, organic food on your family’s plate year round.