Have you ever wondered if you can garden any time other than summer? Can you garden in the fall? Yup (check out this article on fall gardening). But can you garden in the winter? That just doesn’t seem possible. Well, surprise, surprise: you can.
You can garden in ANY season. It just looks different than what you’ve become accustomed to thinking of when you think “gardening.”
Things to Consider for Winter Gardening
A winter garden needs more protection than your typical summer garden, and yes, even more than a fall garden too. While frost may pose a threat in a fall garden, actual snow is a likely possibility in many parts of the US with a winter garden. If you’re in an area that receives a lot of snowfall each year, your winter garden is likely to need more prep.
You need to consider whether you’re able to get outside regularly in the winter. Your garden will still need some tending and you’ll have to be outside to harvest anything you grow as well.
But there’s some good news! You’re much less likely to have pest problems in a winter garden because most pests are hibernating. Yay!
How to Grow a Winter Garden
As with any type of garden, carefully consider your winter garden’s location. The types of things you can grow in the winter do not require as much sunlight as summer’s fruits, but some sunlight is necessary for plant growth.
To protect your winter garden, you are going to need to cover it. This can be done with clear plastic sheeting and wire brackets or a cold frame. A cold frame is a bottomless box with a see-through lid—typically an old window (perfect chance to do some upcycling!). You place this over your garden spot and plant directly in the ground.
You’ll need to remove excessive snow build-up from your sheeting or cold frame so the sunlight can get through to the plants. The snow around the sides of the box will provide some insulation to keep the heat that builds up in the box from escaping. This is good for your plants.
What to Grow in a Winter Garden
So what can you actually grow in a winter garden? Anything that doesn’t need long, hot days to produce fruit. That means, tomatoes and peppers are out (unless you have a warm greenhouse). However, there’s plenty of other things that you can grow. Here’s a few of my favorite winter gardening goodies:
- salad greens – loose leaf lettuces, arugula, dandelion greens
- green onions
- root vegetables – carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, turnips
More Resources for Winter Gardening
Are you ready to get started with your winter garden?
Check out some of these resources. I recommend sitting down with a good book to learn more, so you’re well prepared to handle any challenge a winter garden might bring your way. Here’s a few I recommend:
- Winter Gardening for Beginners – a great book if you’re just getting started!
- The Year Round Vegetable Gardener – This writer gardens in Maine all year. She knows how to garden in tough conditions.
- The Winter Harvest Handbook – Eliot Coleman is kind of like the father of modern year round gardening. He has several excellent books, but this one is specific to winter gardening.