When thinking of a garden, early spring and summer pop into most people’s mind. Winter, a time of cold and possible snow, does not seem like an ideal time to plant vegetables or flowers; however, there are a variety of plants ideal for winter that will survive the cold temperatures. Having information on the right winter crops will help ensure healthier winter yields.
Early maturation crops are the fastest maturing of the winter crops, reaching harvesting points at 30 days. Broccoli, lettuce, mustard and spinach are all ideal winter leaf crops that are hardy even in frost temperatures. Chives, bunching onions and radishes are root crops ideal for winter. Plant by mid-September for an early winter maturation date. These plants are harvestable till spring. Plant in full sun and water every two to three days.
Mid-season crops take around 60 days to reach harvest. Early carrots, leeks, turnips and kohlrabi are popular winter root crops. Early cabbage, winter cauliflower, collards and Swiss chard are hardy winter leaf crops. Plant in August for winter harvesting. These plants are hardy through below freezing temperatures. They require full sun and moderate watering, at least every two to three days.
Beets, carrots, parsnip, rutabaga and globe onions are late maturing root crops. Late maturing leaf crops include: Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower and fava beans. These plants take 90 days to reach maturation. Plant in full sun and water moderately every third day, unless regular precipitation occurs in your area.
There are various flowering plants that excel in the winter. Pansies are considered some of the most hardy and popular winter plants in America. Easily found at garden supply centers, the biennial plants are known to survive frosts. Requiring full to partial sun, the flowers bloom through late fall to early summer. Native to Mexico, poinsettias are traditional winter plants. Blooming with large, vibrant red or white flowers, poinsettias are used both outside and indoors during the winter season. According to the University of Illinois, poinsettias represent 85 percent of all the potted plants sold during the winter holiday period.
Several easy tips and methods allow for increased hardiness of plants in the winter. Planting in raised gardens, though not necessary, reduces the likelihood of the soil freezing during extreme cold spells. Mulch acts as insulator for the plants’ root systems. Add at least a 1/2-inch layer of mulch on the surface of your garden prior to winter’s lowest temperatures.