Growing Food Through the Cold Season

Your garden doesn't have to stop producing just because the cold weather has arrived.

Lettuce

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hgPG-2474503-cold_veggies_under-cover

Cool-weather veggies vary in hardiness. Among the most tender of the lot, lettuce grows best at 50 to 60 degrees F; growth slows as temperatures drop. Keep it in a cold frame; when the temperature falls below 30 degrees, lettuce is in trouble.

The ideal time to plant fall crops is late summer, when soil temperatures are still warm. But if you miss the window of opportunity, and the soil is cold, start the seedlings indoors, then move them outside to a cold frame.

Kale

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hgPG-2474298-cold-veggies_siberian-kale

Kale is one of the toughest veggies for cold-weather gardening.

Kale (here, Siberian kale) produces even when temperatures are in the low 20s, and it can survive until temperatures dip below 5 degrees F.

Parsley

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hgPG-2463521-kids_parsley_purplekale

Keep a supply of fresh herbs going all winter.

Parsley (here, with purple kale) is a cold-tolerant herb. Bring some indoors to keep your kitchen-garden growing through the winter; you can also try leaving some outside, in a cold frame or covered in snow. Another cold-tolerant, kitchen-garden plant: chives.

Ornamental Varieties

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Grow this ornamental variety for its looks, not its taste.

Ornamental cabbages and kales are genetically the same as the varieties you grow as edible veggies, but while the ornamental forms are edible, they don't taste as good as their garden-variety cousins. Still, they're often used to "dress up" a dish. The ornamental varieties hold well into winter, their colors intensifying with frost. If they've been gradually acclimated to the cold, they tolerate temperatures as low as 10 degrees.

Cold Frame

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Put your veggies under wraps.

A cold frame protects fall veggies from frost and, depending on its construction, offers temperatures at least a few degrees warmer than the air outside. During warm spells in the fall season or if the cold frame is sitting in the direct sun, roll up the poly film on the sides of the cold frame and attach it with tape to allow more air flow through the frame and prevent the veggies from cooking inside.

An easy-to-assemble cold frame: place four bales of straw in a rectangle and set an old window over the open area in the middle.

Next Up

Growing Winter Radishes

Some radishes love, love, love the cool weather during fall and winter. Try their versatility in stir fry cooking and pickling.

Growing Turnips

For thousands of years, colorful turnips and their leaves have been an easy-to-grow staple cool-weather vegetable with few pests or problems.

Growing Turnip Greens

In many cultures, including the Southeast US, turnips are grown as much for their tasty, highly nutritious leaves, called “greens” as for their roots. Here are a few tips to get the most out of turnip greens.

Growing White Turnips

Turnips with white roots are both easy to grow and valued for their tenderness and sweetness, with some compared with apples for their lack of classic turnip tanginess.

Growing Yellow Turnips

Turnips with yellow flesh are neither hard to find nor hard to grow, though the much more common cousins are very similar in taste and texture.

Cloches and Cold Frames

Protect crops from pests and bring on their growth in cold weather by covering them with cloches or growing them in permanent cold frames.

Growing Rutabaga Greens

In addition to producing delicious edible root bulbs, rutabaga provides easy-to-grow leafy tops packed with nutrition and fiber.

Quick-Growing Spring and Fall Vegetables

From seed to dinner table in one month? These quick-growing vegetables give the garden a good start and a lingering end.

Growing Large Radishes

Daikon radish and a host of other radish varieties can grow to huge size and still be crisp and tasty. Here’s how to do it!

Growing Forage Radishes

Using huge radishes to break apart compacted soil without plowing? That’s amazing, and that’s the new forage radish method.

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