Are you trying to live strictly off of your land?
Have you considered what you are going to do this winter when nothing fresh can be grown?
Well, don’t worry any longer because fresh plants can be grown during the winter months. Our ancestors did it, and now it is time that we modern homesteaders embrace it ourselves.
But there are a few things you need to know about winter gardening. Here is what you need to know:
A Winter Gardener’s Biggest Mistake
You’ve decided to join the crowd and grow your own food. It may be for financial reasons, for your health benefits, or because you are sick of paying an arm and a leg for everything you eat.
Well, whatever your reason, congratulations! It is a big step to take to be your own grocery store. Now that you’ve made that decision, don’t make one of your biggest mistakes this winter.
But if you try to grow those items during the winter months don’t be surprised when they don’t do very well.
So it is important to realize up front that when you live off of your land, you can’t really be picky. You must eat what will grow in that season. If you make up your mind to do that, then you’re mentally preparing yourself to enjoy survival over the winter.
What to Plant in a Winter Garden
Now that we’ve discussed what you shouldn’t plant, now we can discuss what you should plant when winter gardening. Here are the plants that grow well during the winter:
I love growing spinach in my winter garden because it is great for slipping in smoothies for those much-needed vitamins in the winter.
Or you can put it in your salad for a fresh lunch and a boost in vitamins. Which is why spinach is a great addition for your garden year round, but especially during the winter.
Kale is another favorite food of mine to grow in a winter garden. Our bodies need vitamin boosts during the winter because we are cooped up inside and don’t eat as much fresh food as we do in the warmer months.
But with kale, you can make kale chips or add it to your smoothie or salad for a great boost. Not to mention, it is really delicious too.
I love parsley. It is a herb that is great to add to dishes while cooking or as a garnish after the meal is complete.
But what I love about it is that it is not an overpowering herb. It has more of a subtle flavor that makes it compatible with people’s tastes.
4. Asian Greens
Asian greens have been tested for winter gardens. What has been found is that almost every form of Asian green does well during the winter.
So if you’d like a vegetable that you feel would have the best survival rate, then you might want to start with this one.
I love arugula. We grew it at our previous home, but we haven’t planted it just yet at our new homestead, and I miss it terribly.
So if you are looking for a variety of greens to throw into your salad, then you should definitely include arugula in your winter garden plans.
Carrots do really well in your winter garden. The reason is that carrots grow underground (for the most part), and they are usually pretty hearty.
Turnips are a double whammy of a vegetable. A lot of people actually like the turnips themselves. Their flavor is more of an acquired taste.
But even if you don’t like the actual turnip, you can also eat the greens as well. They are great with some bacon grease, salt, and onion flakes. You can add a splash of vinegar too if you like the flavor.
Collards are another great way to enjoy greens. The same way I recommended you fix turnip greens, you can do collards the same way.
So if you grow both turnip greens and collards, then you can mix them together and make a delicious meal with them.
9. Bok Choy
Bok choy is a great vegetable to grow because even if you don’t eat it, you get to say the name. I simply love saying the name.
But it is also another vegetable choice for your winter garden. This way it will give you some variety of fresh produce over the colder winter months.
I’m a huge fan of chard. You can grow regular chard or the rainbow variety. I love multicolored because the more colorful the food you eat, the more vitamins it contains.
So try to keep that in mind when planting your winter garden. Your body will thank you for it when there is snow on the ground.
I’m a huge lettuce person because I love salads. I love tossing a variety of lettuce types into my salads too.
Not only for the different textures, but also for the flavor variety. It makes eating healthy a little more enjoyable. So consider raising different lettuce varieties in your winter garden.
Beets are another vegetable that either you love, or you don’t. Regardless, they grow better in colder temps because if it gets too warm, then your beets get woody.
However, even if you don’t like beets, you can eat their greens too. This would be another green that you could mix with other green varieties for a meal, like turnip greens and collards.
Also, you can ferment cabbage and make sauerkraut. Obviously, it is a very versatile vegetable that will keep you from getting bored over winter.
14. Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts used to be this dreaded vegetable for many kids. I was one of them, but I’m learning as an adult it is all in how you fix them.
Actually, I learned at a birthday dinner for my son, that Brussel sprouts can be very delicious. So find a recipe you love and put them to good use this winter.
Onions are another great vegetable to plant in your winter garden. They are also very versatile as well because they can be cooked or enjoyed raw.
So whether you like an onion in your soup, or you are a fan of a blooming onion, you’ll want to add this vegetable to your winter garden.
Parsnips are a lot like a carrot. They grow under ground and are hearty, which makes them a great option for a winter garden.
But they really remind me of a white carrot. So if you’d like a little variety in your winter garden, then think of parsnips.
Radishes are a fast growing crop for your winter garden. They only take around 45 days to produce.
So if you need a quick veggie to feast on, then you should consider adding radishes to the mix.
I’m a huge fan of scallions because they too can be enjoyed in many different ways. They are a great topping to a warm dish as a garnish or to a salad.
But you can also place them in a soup to cook as well. They offer a powerful flavor in a small package.
Kohlrabi is another unique and fun vegetable to grow. It has a unique flavor and might be one that you should experiment with before you grow a lot of.
But if you find that you love it, then it is one more vegetable variety you can add to your garden so you have lots of variety to choose from this winter.
How to Protect Your Crops in a Winter Garden
Now that you know what you can grow in your winter garden, then you need to know how to make it all happen.
If you have any mulch or straw on hand, then it is a good idea to cover the crops with this. That way when the cold weather hits, it will protect your vegetables from frost.
2. Cold Frame
A cold frame is a planter box that has a glass lid on top of it. The lid can be propped up with a stick for proper ventilation. This is another great way to be able to protect your crops from frosty temperatures.
3. Row Covers
Row covers are often used to protect plants in early spring from a random frost, or from unwanted bugs on your plants. You can also use them over winter to keep frost and snow off of the plants as well.
4. Hoop Tunnel
A hoop tunnel is what we once used at our old homestead. It is a hoop over the plants as a whole or the rows that are made from PVC pipe. Then covered with plastic. This, too, will keep the frost off of the crops during the winter months.
5. Unheated Greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse but it doesn’t have heat, don’t think that you can’t use it in the winter. In fact, it can be quite helpful to grow a winter garden because it can block the plants from wind and cold.
6. Hot Bed
Hotbed gardening is using a cold frame or a greenhouse that has either been coated in manure or has artificial heat in it. This can generate enough heat to keep your plants from freezing.
Just like blankets keep you from getting cold and freezing during the winter, they can do the same for your plants. So if you have any blankets or sheets that will cover your plants and keep the frost off of them, then you can use them to help your winter garden.
8. Hay and windows
This is actually a unique idea if you plan on growing a larger winter garden. Place old hay bales at the end of each row. Then place old windows over top of the plants along the row. This will draw heat during the day and keep frost off at night.
Finally, you can use a combination of any of these efforts to encourage your winter crops to thrive. Just use what you have and see what works best for your plants. No matter where you live, with a combination of items, you should be able to figure out how to grow a thriving winter garden.
So you now know which vegetables you can grow in a winter garden, how to keep your veggies warm over the winter, and the biggest mistake to avoid in a winter garden.