Planning a Winter Garden

by Juanita Schulze

Winter Garden Items

What vegetables can I plant?

The first things that come to my mind are the root crops. Most of these will grow when the temperature gets cold. In our garden we have beets, carrots, parsnips, burdock, onions (from seed and starts) (full size and bunching), salsify, scorzonera, shallots, leeks, radishes, rutabaga, kohlrabi, fennel (bulb type) and turnips.  There may be more but this is all I can think of.

Some other things that come to mind are Swiss Chard, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, lettuce, collards, various greens and spinach. 

Not all varieties of each type of veggie, under each of these, are good for growing in the winter, but you can research and find out what variety will grow in your area.

There is a lot that you can plant in your winter garden if you live in the southern half of the United States.

You will not be able to start these from seed in the winter time. You will need to plant transplants that are at least six weeks old. It would be better to plant your transplants at the end of summer before the cold moves in.

Something we grow in the winter here are strawberries. We plant the type of plants that produce small berries and throughout the year we get a few here and there. We now live in the Strawberry Capital of Texas so the strawberry farmers have planted their fields with larger berries. These large strawberries should be ready to harvest around the end of February or the beginning of March. One farmer was nice enough to give us 100 plants back in January of 2020. They grew amazingly.

Winter Flowers

This is the first year (December of 2020) that we have planted winter flowers. It got down to 27 degrees Fahrenheit here the other night and they did fine.

What did we plant?

Snapdragons, pansies, violas, and petunias. 

What can be planted?

Winter Jasmine, hellabores, pieris, cyclamen, witch hazel and winter primrose just to name a few. I have never heard of any of these so we do not have the seeds.

Another cold tolerant flower that comes to mind is ornamental kale. There are both open pollinated and hybrid varieties of these and good news! We carry ornamental kale seeds here.

Winter Herbs

What herbs will grow in winter?

Calendula, rosemary, parsley, mint, savory winter, some types of basil and thyme. These alone should give you enough fresh herbs to satisfy your palate through the winter. 

Mint is best grown in a container because wherever you plant it, it will take over the space, choking everything else out...Unless you have small flower beds to plant individual varieties of mint, I would just plant them in pots.

Garlic can be grown in the wintertime as well.  Click here to read about it.

Cover Crops

When winter hits and our grass has died, we plant rye grass. We plant seed and it is usually warm enough for it to germinate.

Here is what we have planted: hairy vetch, winter wheat and crimson clover.

Generally, these are planted in the summer or fall and allowed to overwinter.

Keep in mind that they do need water during the winter months.

And around the beginning of January, for us, it will be time to start our transplants. Of course, we have a nice warm greenhouse for them. If we did not have the greenhouse, we would have to wait.

And you can get all of these wonderful seeds from David's Garden Seeds®.

(Well our stuff is going to get tested.  We are expecting temps as low as 15 degrees.)