When most people think of gardening, they think of warm, lazy days. Almost no one thinks about growing right up through winter and harvesting just before the first frost hits, but with careful planning, you can do just that. Sure, the crops you harvest during this time are going to be different than what you will harvest in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to rely on canned foods and buying your produce at the supermarket when winter hits. There are plenty of vegetables you can plant in fall harvest during the winter months. Take advantage of some of these hardy vegetables to keep fresh food on your table year round.
Some of the foods you can harvest before the first frost hits include a variety of cabbages, parsnip, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and Brussel sprouts. Radish, turnips, fingerling carrots, leeks, and rutabaga are ideal for harvesting in the winter as well. Obviously plants that produce fruit aren’t going to be suitable for winter harvest. Leafy vegetables and crops with roots or stems make the best winter fare. These are all hardy plants that do well in cold weather and can be harvested right up until the first frost. The best way to determine when to plant is to take a look at each crop you intend to harvest and count backward the number of days to maturity to get a planting date. Know when the typical first frost date is for the area you live in so you can better plan the harvest deadline for your crops.
There are different ways to extend your growing season as well. A temporary shelter from the elements or even a fully developed greenhouse are two of the ways to offer your crops extra protection. Covering your garden during the cooler times can also be effective in all but the most severe cases. While you can only hold back the elements for so long, using some of these methods can buy you the additional time needed to bring your winter garden efforts to fruition.
Preparing and planting for a winter harvest might not be for everybody, but if you truly enjoy gardening and can’t imagine going without all those delicious fresh veggies until spring and summer roll around again, a winter harvest will probably make perfect sense to you. With planning and the courage to brave the cold, you can ensure your family a bountiful harvest even while the snow begins to fall outside the warmth of your home.