10 Vegetables to Plant in the Fall and Winter That Will Withstand the Cold
Growing vegetables in your garden makes for nutritious, gratifying, and inexpensive eating, but it can be difficult to figure out which vegetables will yield ripe, delicious produce, especially during a cold winter. It might surprise you that some of the best fall and winter vegetables you can plant reach maturity during the cold-weather months, while others can make it through the cold winter months and sprout in time for a warm-weather harvest. Whether you have a certified green thumb or are a gardening novice, cultivating a garden that can withstand fall and winter temperatures is an easy way to elevate your meals and provide an enriching pastime.
There are a slew of plants that can handle the chilly weather—starting with garlic. An ingredient in a number of delicious dishes, growing your own means an accessible stash for your favorite meals. You just need to sow this crop in the fall—about six weeks before the first frost of the season—for a healthy harvest in the spring or summer. Other vegetables to plant in the fall come in the form of hardy, leafy greens, like cabbage and mustard greens. These can survive the harshest of conditions the winter months throw their way—even snow, rain, and ice-cold temperatures.
Aside from having the right fall and winter vegetables to plant, there are many protective measures you can take to make sure your garden thrives. "A small greenhouse, or a greenhouse-like protective cover, can allow these plants to grow in weather that gets below freezing, and even during light snow falls," says Deborah Miuccio, product research and testing coordinator at Gardener's Supply Company. "This allows people the ability to grow their own food year-round." Here, experts detail the best crops to add to your fall and winter vegetable gardens—despite whatever weather might come your way.
After a long gestation period, harvest-ready asparagus may not make an appearance until a year or two after planting. The plant can live through multiple winters yielding fresh produce. "Asparagus can be planted in the autumn for a spring harvest," says Todd Carr, former senior garden editor at Martha Stewart Living. "The plant comes up in the spring when it's chilly outside, as it is a perennial."
A frost-resistant bulb suited to fall rooting, garlic can be planted roughly six weeks before a deep freeze for peak growth. "The ground must be unfrozen and workable for planting," says Carr. But then it can tough out the winter.
Don't allow their delicate appearance to fool you; fruitful, swift-sprouting mustard greens can last through frost and temperatures several degrees above freezing in your vegetable garden. When in doubt, Carr suggests beginning the plant growth indoors in the fall and moving it outside after germination.
Robust and rugged radishes respond beautifully to sunny weather with crisp temperatures as low as 50 degrees, Carr says, making it a great vegetable to plant in the fall in an area that doesn't get too cold come winter. But, the vegetable can still flourish through frost spells.
Peas can withstand freezing temperatures and favor mild to cooler conditions, Carr notes. The nutrient-rich vegetable is a great plant to place in your fall garden.
Brisk temperatures suit robust lettuce, whose seeds can be sown in the fall for a harvest between one and three months after their initial planting. "If the seeds you are working with are small, you can mix them with sand for greater visibility," advises Carr. "When you lay out the seeds in rows, you can see where they are going."
Cold weather won't get the best of this delicious leafy green, making it a great fall vegetable to plant. Cabbage is known to thrive in frost and is ready to pick come winter. "[Areas like] southern California can start these from seed in September," says Miuccio.
"When the very hot weather hits, the [brassica] vegetables will bolt—which means that the vegetable will produce seed—which reduces the harvest," Miuccio says. Like other plants from this species, this fall vegetable thrives away from harsh heat and when sown about 10 to 12 weeks before the first frost.
Sunlight and moist soil will help grow healthy kale for a winter harvest. When prepping your fall vegetables to plant like this one and other brassicas, you will need to guard them against a specific bug, though. "To prevent the small white butterfly of the cabbageworm from laying eggs on the plants, simply cover the plants with summer-weight fabric over hoops," Miuccio notes. "This is an easy, organic solution."
It takes an average of 50 to 80 days to grow this plant. Similar to other brassicas, this crop should be planted in the ground almost 10 weeks before the first frost for a healthy winter harvest. You can keep this cold-weather brassica crop healthy by removing plant debris from your winter vegetables garden—this will also help to keep bugs away during the winter.