Grow Better Vegetables in the Winter Months
Vegetable gardening is a popular past time for survivalists, health-nuts, and families all across the country. However, if you are like most backyard hobby gardeners, you have fund that for much of the country, winter vegetable gardening is very difficult, if not impossible.
Between fighting the lack of water, cold temperatures, short daylight hours, and other obstacles, it can be a lot of work for the average homeowner to keep his or her vegetable garden growing.
This doesn’t mean it cannot be done. What it does mean is that you need the right tools and you need to follow the right steps to be successful with winter vegetable gardens.
That is what I wanted to offer to you here with this guide, to help take the stress out of gardening in the winter months and help you enjoy it once again. With these tips for how to grow vegetables in winter, you will be set to keep delicious home-grown food on the table this season!
Tools You Will Need for Winter Vegetable Gardening
There are a few essential tools you are going to need in order to get the very best in winter gardening crops this year:
The most important part of any garden is the soil you use to grow the veggies in. Whether you have a large in-ground plot or are using containers or small raised beds, what really makes the difference between an ok crop and a great crop is the soil you use. Make sure you use rich soil that has organic matter and compost mixed in. Starting with poor soil will mean your winter vegetable crop will never be the best that it can be.
As already mentioned above, you can use a range of vessels for your vegetable garden. Larger in-ground plots and raised beds need more preparation but will yield larger crops in the end. For homeowners or hobby gardeners with limited space, container gardening is becoming more and more popular. Choosing the type of garden space that is right for you will help you start off on the right foot.
A must-have tool for good winter vegetable gardening is a towel, shovel, or similar tool. You will need this to prepare the soil, plant your vegetables, and tend to them as they grow. Smaller plots and container gardens will need smaller trowels and the larger expansive plots will be easier to tend to with a shovel. It is a good idea to invest in quality tools at the start as they will last longer and hold up better over time.
While some gardeners start from scratch and grow their veggies from seeds, this often times is not an option for winter gardens. With a shorter growing season and fewer warm days, seedlings will not grow as fast; a way to overcome this is to start with seedlings that are already 4-6 inches in size. This head start ensures you have time to grow your vegetables to mature harvest age and gives you a head start on the winter crops.
It is important to make sure you have the right fertilizer for your crops as well as for the growing season you are in. Slow release fertilizer can be a great option for container and small plot gardens as it delivers a slow and steady supply of nutrients to your plants. It is important to remember to not use too much since your vegetable garden won’t grow as fast in the cold months and too much fertilizer can burn the roots quickly.
Also read: Best Tow Behind Sprayer
All plants need water but the watering needs of a winter vegetable garden is different than those of a summer vegetable garden. This is especially true if you live in an area with a winter rainy season or an area that has fluctuating temperature ranges to deal with. Adjusting watering amounts and frequencies to take the new environment into account will be an important part of a successful winter crop season this year.
The final tool you may want to take advantage of to make your winter vegetable garden more successful and easier to maintain is a greenhouse of some sort. Whether you want to build a big fancy glass greenhouse, a smaller yet functional fiberglass growing area, or a simple greenhouse made from a plastic tarp and PVC pipes, theses structures can help protect your crop and give you more time in the season.
How to Grow Vegetables in Winter- Choosing Your Crops
Hardy vegetables are those that are best suited for winter gardens in most areas. These are vegetable types that can tolerate most temperatures that go to as low as a hard frost. In some area of the country or for certain crops, you may need to provide some sort of frost protection for the most frigid nights. Hardy winter vegetables will need protection only on the coldest of nights so as long as you pay attention to weather forecasts in your area, you can take full advantage of winter vegetable crops. Examples of hardy vegetables are;
- Brussels sprouts
In regions where winters tend to be on the milder side and temperatures in the range of 20 degrees F and below are uncommon, you may be able to utilize the entire winter to grow your veggies. These areas of the country include the Pacific Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. Semi-hardy vegetables will also grow in these same areas. These veggies include some healthy favorites like;
- Leaf lettuces
- Swiss chard
- Savoy cabbage.
All of these vegetables can make wonderful additions to your home garden plots and will make it easier to eat healthier during the winter.
Knowing what planting zone you are in, as well as the normal temperature ranges and frost dates for your region will make it easier to get your winter garden started on time. It is advised to start your garden with small plants rather than seeds due to the shorter growing season.
The general rule of thumb for how to grow vegetables in winder is to plant Zones 7 to 10 during October. In Zone 6, get plants in the ground in late September; zones lower than 6 usually are too cold to get a good crop grown without using a greenhouse. If you need help finding your zone, you can contact your local agriculture extension office.
Make Gardening Easy this Season
It is our hope that you enjoyed this guide and that you now feel ready to get your winter garden ready. I have enjoyed backyard vegetable gardening for years and love taking advantage of the shorter but still impactful winter season. These tips have made it easier for me to keep fresh and delicious vegetables on the table for family, and that is why I wanted to share these tips with you.
So, if you have been thinking about how to grow vegetables in winter and if it is possible now you know the answer as well as the process. So, give it a try and let us know how it worked for you!