Hungry for healthy eating this winter, but missing the good stuff straight from your garden? It may sound unlikely but growing food in winter is possible. (For my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, a lot of this advice is still relevant, having to do with preparing for next winter!) What are the easiest nutrient-packed vegetables to grow, and which don’t mind cold or snow? There’s more than you think, and that just about anyone can grow. Let’s dive right in.
If you grow kale in the spring or summer, it’s a tough enough plant to keep alive through fall and winter in places with mild or even moderate winters. All winter long you can pick kale leaves for healthy salads, smoothies, and cooked greens! In harsh winters, kale will still survive and be harvestable with help from cold frames, cloches, or floating row covers to protect it from the cold. If you like, you can seed and enjoy baby kale through late winter and heading into spring in places with mild winters.
Spinach loves the cold. You’ll love that spinach loves the cold, too— because the cold and frost make it sweeter for eating, and less bitter! After the heat of summer is over, you can seed spinach in your garden and continue to harvest delicious salad greens for months and months into the winter. Like kale, spinach will need protection in harsh winters, and you can also seed it in winter to have baby greens in later winter and early spring.
If you love carrots and want more homegrown and local ones in winter, then parsnips are a must try. And if you’ve never had parsnips, you’re missing out! Harvesting and eating these in winter is possible, but it takes a little planning in advance. Seed them in spring, where they will grow big all summer and fall. They become tasty, sweet, and hearty carrot-like roots that you can harvest even in the deep of the cold season.
Can you make delicious sauerkraut, coleslaw, or spring rolls in winter, right from your own garden? Definitely! If you get started growing cabbage plants in summer (and choose cold hardy varieties), come winter you’ll have big heads to harvest and eat. In cold harsh winter regions, these might need some protection.
This one is a late winter and early spring delight. Who doesn’t want some extra arugula greens on their pizza, or in salads, before the warmer months? Seed arugula in mid to late winter and you’ll have harvestable greens in a month or two. They’ll do (and look) better when protected in places with harsh winters.
From daikon to d’avignon, any flavor of radish is possible to grow in the winter, too. These root vegetables are great for urinary and digestive health. In places with mild winters, spring radishes can be seeded in late fall for harvest in winter; or seeded mid-winter for late winter and early spring harvesting. Larger storage radishes, like daikon, will size up in the cold and taste delicious all winter long (Including in juices and smoothies!). With growing your own food being all the rage lately, there’s no need to wait until spring. You can get growing— now!