What To Plant In Winter: 20 Winter Garden Plants


We used to only plant in our garden in the spring time and harvest later that year. Every winter our garden lay dormant, and I wanted to make use of it year round. After plenty of research I came up with a great assortment of plants we could grow in our garden throughout winter.

20 Vegetables To Plant In A Winter Garden:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Leeks
  • Radishes
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Spring Onions
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Green Beans
  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Mache
  • Land Cress
  • Pak Choi
  • Mustard Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Arugula

Any of these plants from the list should do great in winter if you take the right steps to prepare your garden. Some vegetables will grow excellent all on their own, while others may need some sort of covering. It’s important to know what each plant needs to thrive if you want a successful winter harvest. Visit our How To Keep Outdoor Plants Alive During Winter article for tips and pointers.

Onions

Onions typically have a long growing season, so planting them in the winter may mean they aren’t ready to harvest until summer. Plan your garden space accordingly for the spring time planting because the onions will still be growing.

What They Need: The good news is that onions are really easy to grow. They won’t need to be looked after and don’t require special attention.

Varieties: Try planting first early onions or electric onions.

Garlic

Garlic has a long growing season similar to onions. Another case where you will probably not harvest until summer. We grow a lot of garlic because our family puts it on everything. But keep in mind, you will want to leave space for your spring time planting.

What They Need: Garlic is super easy to grow. I think of them as a set it and forget it plant. No special instruction needed for growing garlic.

Varieties: A good type of garlic to plant over winter is the Wight Cristo and Chesnok Red.

Shallots

Shallots are becoming more and more popular because of how easy they are to grow, and they taste great. Shallots will commonly be harvested 90 days after planting.

What They Need: You should plant shallots a good 5 weeks before the last frost of spring. In soil that is between 32 – 50 degrees. That makes them a great plant for end of winter planting

Varieties: Atlantic, Dutch Yellow, and French Shallots are all good options.

Leeks

Leeks are great because they can be harvested almost anytime you need to. Normally, you’d want to wait until they have a big white stem at least 1 inch in diameter. But it’s also fine to pull young leeks and eat them like you would scallions.

What They Need: The stems of the leeks need to be covered. This is how they produce that blanched white stem. They will also need the soil to be watered quite frequently, and plenty of added nitrogen.

Varieties: Blue Solaise and Gigante Inverno are good winter leeks to try.

Radishes

Winter radishes are planted late in the summer and grow slower than their spring counterparts. But when you do harvest they will be larger and more crisp, they will also store better and last longer.

What They Need: Winter type radishes will really only need a thin layer of straw covering the soil and some occasional watering.

Varieties: Watermelon, Red Meat, or Black Spanish radishes are all good options for winter.

Potatoes

Potatoes will do great if you plant them in February and harvest around 3 months later. They are also one of the more fun ones to harvest with kids. Raised beds tend to offer the largest yields for potatoes, but you can usually grow them in almost any garden.

What They Need: Potatoes don’t need very much attention, an occasional watering wouldn’t hurt.

Varieties: Carola, Canela Russet, and Butte are all great late season potatoes.

Lettuce

You can plant lettuce in late September and early October and still get a decent harvest. The smaller lettuce plants tend to be more hardy and will last through the cold weather better than larger plants.

What They Need: Lettuce will do better in the colder months if they are covered in some way. It’s not advisable to lay cloth on them, something like a small row cover or enclosure would be ideal.

Varieties: Winter Marvel, Tango, and Green Forest are all acceptable lettuce varieties to plant in the winter.

Spring Onions

The winter varieties of spring onions can be planted in early autumn. They will take longer to grow than traditional spring onions but can be harvested in early spring.

What They Need: Spring onions will need to be water fairly regularly, If you notice the soil around the spring onions is dry, you should water them.

Varieties: White Lisbon is well known for being a hardy winter spring onion

Spinach

Spinach is one of those plants you can cut some off when you need it and it will continue to grow. If you plant spinach in early autumn you will have a nice harvest throughout winter any time you need it. This will carry on through the summer.

What They Need: Spinach will do best when covered with a small row cover or enclosure.

Varieties: Perpetual spinach is recommended for winter growing.

Kale

The flavor of Kale actually improves as the temperature drop. This is sometimes considered a must have for a winter garden. Kale can be harvested all winter long with not much effort to grow.

What They Need: Kale can grow up to 3 feet tall. Because of this it’s a good idea to have them covered if a frost is coming through.

Varieties: Red Russian and Winterbor are good choices of Kale to grow through winter.

Peas

Plant peas in the fall to enjoy a nice early spring harvest. Some extra work is involved to keep the peas alive through winter, but it’s well worth it if you want to harvest peas earlier than anyone else.

What They Need: Peas need to be covered in case of a frost and will need to be watered regularly. We grow peas on a climber, so covering them can be a bigger task than other plants.

Varieties: Kelvedon Wonder and Meteor are great winter varieties.

Green Beans

Actually, broad beans are what you will want to plant for winter. Plant these in the fall for an early spring time harvest. These grow quickly and establish themselves nicely in cold weather.

What They Need: Regular watering and a covering that lets light through should be all these need to grow throughout winter.

Varieties: Broad Windsor and Aquadulce Claudia are good options.

Carrots

Certain varieties of carrots will grow quickly and can give you harvest in very early spring time. They do require some extra care and equipment that an average backyard garden might not support.

What They Need: To see success with carrots throughout winter, you will need to have a green house. Or if you’re growing outside, you could plant in late July for an early spring harvest.

Varieties: Adelaide is a good variety of carrot for colder weather.

Asparagus

Asparagus takes several years to establish and start giving a good harvest. But they can be planted in the fall or early winter for a good start. Once they start growing to a level you can harvest, you will be able to harvest for over 20 years with some varieties.

What They Need: Asparagus is pretty easy to grow, they just take patience. It will be at least 2 years before you can harvest. Cover if a frost is approaching and water regularly.

Varieties: Mondeo and Pacific Purple are the most popular varieties of asparagus.

Mache

Mache can survive in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit before they will need row covers. Harvest time for these can be late winter or early spring because they are very cold weather hardy plants. Mache is also known as lambs lettuce or corn salad, and is a great addition to any garden salad.

What They Need: They will need coverings if there is a cold frost coming through. But tend to last through winter just fine. Regular watering will help them grow faster.

Varieties: Verte d’Etampes and Cambrai are good varieties of Mache. The Verte d’Cambrai will also self sow coming back every year.

Land Cress

Land cress can be harvested when they reach 4 inches tall. You simply pluck the leaves and the stem intact to grow more leaves. So simple and easy, these are a great winter plant for your garden.

What They Need: You will need to cover these with cloth of some kind until the sprout. Row covering or enclosure will be needed on colder nights.

Variety: Winter cress is the best variety for growing throughout winter.

Pak Choi

Pak Choi is one of those vitamin superstar foods. These will usually do better during summer months, but can still be grown early autumn and transplanted to an enclosure for the winter. You can harvest these while still young all winter long.

What They Need: Pak Choi will need to be covered or enclosed through the winter months. Regular watering and maintenance should give a good harvest though.

Varieties: Red Choi, Toy Choi, and Joi Choi are common varieties.

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are actually pretty easy to grow. They will survive a light frost without covering and seem to stand up well in cold weather. They actually do better in cooler weather as opposed to warm summer temperatures. Can plant in late summer and harvest about 6 weeks later.

What They Need: It’s a good idea to stake these plants when growing with seeds. Place seeds 1 inch apart and rows 8 inches apart at first and use row coverings through colder months.

Varieties: Curly Leaf, Mibuna, and Mizuna are some of the most common varieties of mustard greens.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is usually ready to be harvested 2 months after planting. They will survive a frost but temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit could kill these plants. If you plant Swiss Chard in the spring, you will be able to harvest all summer and then let it sit through winter and it will start growing again in the spring.

What They Need: These need row coverings and frequent watering. The more frequent you harvest, the faster this plant will grow.

Varieties: Bright Light, Bright Yellow, and Fordhook Giant are common varieties of Swiss Chard.

Arugula

Arugula can grow almost anywhere and are pretty easy to maintain. You can harvest the Arugula leaves when they reach 3 inches long. Arugula is an excellent winter plant because it will survive a cold frost and doesn’t need a heated green house.

What They Need: Cover on really cold nights isn’t entirely necessary but a safe bet. Regular watering is recommended.

Varieties: Common Arugula varieties include Astro, Rocket, and Sylvetta.

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Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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