Lasagna Gardening Quick Start Guide

Lasagna Gardening Quick Start Guide

The term “lasagna gardening” conjures up images of cheesy, gooey, hamburger-laden goodness. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to grow a lasagna in your garden – and lasagna gardening has nothing to do with the Italian dish we know and love. 

However, lasagna gardening has plenty of other benefits to offer. Not only can it help boost the fertility of your soil, but it can also render a formerly unusable plot of land totally usable. 

Here’s everything you need to know about lasagna gardening.

What is Lasagna Gardening?

Lasagna gardening, as we mentioned, has nothing to do with cooking and everything to do with great gardening. It’s all about layers – you can place lasagna gardens wherever you want. 

A no-till, no-dig method of organic gardening, lasagna gardening results in fluffy, nutrient-dense soil that requires very little work on your part. It refers to a method of building up your garden via layers, producing rich soil that will help your garden thrive. It’s often referred to synonymously as sheet composting, and it’s not only great for your garden, but it’s good for the environment, too. 

As long as there is sun and a relatively flat grade, you can build a lasagna garden. It can be large or small, narrow or wide, long or short. You don’t even have to till anything! All you will need to do is build layers until it’s the perfect height for your needs. 

To make it an even better proposition, you can use any kind of organic fertilizer, too. You should never use a synthetic fertilizer in a lasagna garden, but it’s fine to use compost, leaves, manure, or any other natural ingredients to help build your soil. 

Why You Should Try Lasagna Gardening

There are plenty of reasons to give lasagna gardening a try. As you probably know, we love finding solutions for busy people. Not only is it more convenient for people who have poor soil, but it also is a great solution for the lazy gardener. 

Many of us live in areas where the soil is too rocky, too sandy, too clay bound, or inappropriate in some other way for gardening. Lasagna gardening gets rid of that dilemma. You can place your garden wherever you have sun and you can use manure, compost, and other fertilizers to build it. 

While these amendments won’t go into your soil right away, they will accumulate and leach into the ground over time, gradually improving the quality of your soil so that you can one day use it for gardening in a more traditional sense.

You won’t have to dig, cultivate, or till in any way, either. Since you are essentially adding new “soil” on top of the ground, you won’t have to turn anything in to provide the benefits of fertilizing, aerating, and eliminating weeds. This helps to protect the fragile microbes that live in your soil – again, improving the structure and nutrition of your soil over time. 

Once you get it established, a lasagna garden is much easier to maintain, too. You can build it to any height, so if you have accessibility issues, you will have a much less difficult time tending to your plants. You will also have fewer weeds to contend with and you won’t need to water it as much, either. Compost holds water much better than the regular garden soil. 

Finally, a lasagna garden is a great method for people seeking inexpensive organic gardening techniques. It takes just a few hours to prepare the garden and although it can take a full season for the organic matter to break down enough to fully support the plants, you can start growing almost immediately. Plus, a lasagna garden can be built entirely free of cost if you use your own organic waste. 

How to Build a Quick Lasagna Garden 

Building a lasagna garden is easy and entirely customizable to your preferences and growing needs. You can build the garden directly on the ground, by piling up layers, or you can build it in a raised bed. 

The basic principles, however, remain the same. Make sure you have an idea of which layers you are going to include in your garden since the first layer will be on the bottom and the last layer will be on top – the contents of the layers can vary depending on which plants you choose to grow. 

First, begin by selecting your growing area. Choose one that receives at least four hours of sun a day, unless you plan on growing a shade garden with tolerant plants like kale and spinach. 

Next, if you plan on building sides or a raised bed around your lasagna garden, mark the area with stakes. This will give you an idea of the boundaries of your lasagna garden so you don’t have a heaping, sprawling mess. 

If you decide to enclose your garden in any way, stick with wood like pine, oak, or maple. Don’t use anything that has been treated, as these chemicals can leach into your garden over time.

Put down your first layer. This should be either a thick (six to eight layers) layer of newspaper or a single sheet of cardboard. This will provide a strong base for your lasagna garden and it will also help suppress weeds. Another option is straw. Whichever option you choose, make sure it’s at least six inches thick. Wet the layer before moving onto the next step. 

Add some compost or manure. Compost is best, particularly aged compost, as it will allow the plants to use the nutrients more easily. Water this layer, too. Then put down a layer of straw, which will provide additional aeration, and then wet that, too. 

Next, add a layer of “new” compost ingredients. Some options to choose from include coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, eggshells, or other kitchen waste. This will begin to break down slowly in your garden, adding additional nutrients to the soil once the compost has been depleted. Again, cover with straw, and wet it. 

Add a brown layer of ingredients to your lasagna garden. Anything that contains lots of carbon can be used here – think shredded paper, napkins, toilet paper tubes, straw, or wood shavings. Add another layer of straw, and water.  Then, you’ll add a green layer- anything that is nitrogen base will do. You can add more vegetable or fruit scraps (such as banana peels) or coffee grounds or even some lawn clippings. Sprinkle with water once more. 

You’ll repeat this pattern as needed until your garden is at least two feet deep. You can create an even deeper garden if you want it to be taller for easier access – just remember that the garden will break down over time, so it will never be as tall as it was when you started. The last layer of your lasagna garden should always be compost or aged manure. 

That’s all there is to it! The final step is to plant your seeds or seedlings just as you ordinarily would. You will care for them in the exact same ways you would when planting in a regular in-ground garden or raised bed – just with a lot less time and effort involved. 

Things to Keep in Mind 

Although a lasagna garden is much easier to care for than a regular garden, there are some things to keep in mind.  For instance, you may still have problems with pests. These can be magnified if you use young compost. Some pests, like mice and rats, are going to be attracted to the fresher compost ingredients. Try sprinkling some cayenne pepper around them (or building your lasagna garden in an enclosed area) to deter these rodents.

You may also have fungal diseases. Cinnamon can help prevent fungal disease, but often, fungal issues can be magnified in a too-wet lasagna garden. Hold off on watering until you’re sure your garden needs it – a lasagna garden will hold water a lot better than a traditional garden, so it’s not difficult to overwater. 

Finally, any ingredients you use in your lasagna garden should be carefully examined for any signs of contamination. For instance, you will want to look over your cardboard for tape, glue, and staples. These can leach chemicals into your soil and they won’t break down in a garden (or they will take a very long time to do so). You should also avoid using hay instead of straw – not only will it take longer to break down, but it will contain tons of weed seeds, too. 

When to Build a Lasagna Garden

You can build your own lasagna garden at any time of the year. Fall tends to be best, as it will provide you with a multitude of organic materials for free – think of all the fallen leaves and yard waste hanging around. Plus, you can allow the lasagna garden to break down all winter. By spring, it will be time to plant.

However, if you’re reading this in the spring, summer, or winter, don’t think it’s too late to start your lasagna garden now! It can be tough to start a lasagna garden in the winter, but if you’re willing to wait until early spring, you’ll have the perfect environment to get going. Just remember than in spring and summer, you will want to add more soil-like amendments to the final layer of the bed, like topsoil, so you can plant immediately. 

Over time, the organic matter in your garden will shrink and break down. You will want to replenish it every year by adding additional green and brown layers. Otherwise, there’s little else that you need to do except sit back and watch your garden grow. 

Oh – and you can also make some real lasagna with all the delicious tomatoes and peppers you’ll be able to grow in your lasagna garden!

21 Best Vegetables to Grow in Pots (It’s So Easy!)

21 Best Vegetables to Grow in Pots (It’s So Easy!)

Growing your own vegetables is one of the most enjoyable endeavors you can attempt. Not only will you be rewarded with a delicious bounty of nutritious vegetables at the end of the growing season, but you will also save some money, too.

However, if you have a short growing season or lack ample gardening space – for example, if you live in an apartment – you might think that this is not something you can easily do. You’re in luck. There are plenty of veggies that can easily be grown in containers with minimal expertise and know-how. It’s simply a matter of knowing the best vegetables to grow in pots, along with implementing some helpful tips.

Leafy Greens

Spinach

Spinach is not only great for you, but it’s one of the best vegetables to grow in pots. A cold-hardy plant, you can keep spinach in containers outside well into the autumn months. You might, however, want to mulch it or bring it inside during the hottest days of summer to protect it from being scorched.

Collard Greens

Collard greens thrive in containers – just as long as you put the container in full sunlight during the day. These greens need at least six hours of sunlight during the fall and spring months but prefer a little bit of shade during the hot afternoon hours of summer.

Kale

Spinach isn’t the only leafy green to consider if you want to grow vegetables in pots! You should also give kale a try. The perfect plant for container gardening, it requires minimal space. You can grow five kale plants in just a 20-inch pot. A cold-tolerant plant, you should be able to keep your kale plants outside in containers much of the year.

Lettuce

One of the easiest vegetables to grow in a pot, lettuce requires minimal upkeep. Just plant your seeds in a container on the patio and begin harvesting in just a few weeks. Another benefit of lettuce is that it can tolerate the shade and the sunlight, so you can move it around to wherever it’s most convenient for you. Just be careful about giving it too much heat!

Root Vegetables

Radishes

Because radishes are so small, they do quite well when planted in containers. As long as you select a short variety, you can grow radishes in just about any kind of container. Longer ones will need to be planted in taller containers.

Carrots

Carrots, along with almost every other root crop, can easily be grown in containers. When sown thinly and cared for properly, carrots can be grown in containers exactly as they would be if you grew them directly in the garden.

Potatoes

Many people don’t know this, but potatoes grow shockingly well in containers. You can grow potatoes year-round in a container, in fact- you’ll never have to buy them again! Just make sure you put some holes in the bottom of your container for aeration. You’ll yield a pound or two of potatoes each growing season per container.

Beets

Beets can easily be grown in pots, too. Since beets grow quickly and require no transplanting, you can grow them quickly in a container as long as it’s big enough. Sow your seeds thinly, and keep in mind that you might have to thin again later, too.

Onions

You can even grow onions in containers! As long as you have plenty of space – a planter that is more than five inches deep is ideal – you should be able to fit several onion sets in a container. You can harvest the tops, too.

Parsnips

The parsnip is an acquired taste – as a result, it can be tough to find parsnips in stores out of season. Luckily, you can easily grow parsnips in containers. You will want a deep container since they can get quite long. Make sure you cut holes for drainage, too.

Turnips

Turnips do quite well in containers. You will need a pot that is at least eight inches deep to provide for adequate root growth, and you will also need a pot with excellent drainage. Turnips are highly susceptible to overwatering.

Everyone’s Favorite Garden Vegetables

Zucchini and Summer Squash

Zucchini is not only one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but it’s also one of the best vegetables to grow in pots. As with all summer squash, zucchini can grow just about anywhere you plant it. Choose a large pot for best results. You will want to harvest your plants regularly so they don’t become overweight with fruits – plus, this will keep production up as the plants won’t be putting unnecessary energy into growing monstrous, woody fruits.

Peppers

Certain types of peppers do exceptionally when in containers. From bell peppers to hot peppers, you can grow just about any kind of these heat-loving varieties in pots. Provide plenty of room for your peppers to grow – a ten-gallon container may be necessary for some varieties. These plants also need lots of sunlight each day (at least eight hours).

Cucumbers

Like zucchini, cucumbers grow quite well in containers. You can grow them indoors or outdoors as long as you have a trellis to support them and to maximize the available space. The best varieties for growing cucumbers in pots are midget pickles and Spacemasters.

Beans

You can grow either pole or bush beans in pots. Pole beans do well if you have some sort of trellis or pole for the vines to travel up, while bush beans grow in a squatter, more uniform pattern. Regardless of the type you choose, try to use at least a twelve-inch container.

Peas

All types of peas, including snow peas and sugar snap peas, can be grown in containers. They taste great in stir-fries or when sauteed. Plus, since the plants are small, they are easily grown in pots. As with pole beans, you will need to provide some kind of trellis system. They thrive in the cool conditions of early spring.

Tomatoes

A classic container plant is the tomato plant. Many people grow tomatoes in pots so that they can be brought in out of the cold to enjoy the warmer temperature inside your house. Make sure you stake your plants to avoid breakage!

Unusual Container Veggies

Asparagus

Asparagus can be grown in a pot, too. It’s a hardy plant and is perennial, meaning it will come back in later years. When properly cared for, asparagus can live for years. Make sure you have a large plant that is relatively shallow – it just needs to have a broad diameter.

Cauliflower and Broccoli

Cauliflower, broccoli, and other cole crops (like cabbage) are perfect candidates for growing in pots. Not only are they cold-tolerant and easy to grow, but these plants can thrive when planted in pots at least eight inches deep.

Eggplant

As long as you have your pots in a warm, sunny enough location, even eggplant can be grown in them. You will want to avoid overcrowding since eggplant tends to sprawl. Choose a pot that is at least five inches deep. Clay pots are good choices for eggplant since they allow lots of heat to permeate into the soil.

Artichokes

Let’s face it – for most people, artichokes are super difficult to grow. But if you enjoy the taste of artichokes, you may feel repulsed by the high prices charged at the grocery store. Instead of shelling out all your hard-earned cash, why not try growing artichokes in pots? They’re low maintenance and best planted in fall since they take a long time to germinate.

Tips for Growing Vegetables in Pots

If you’re ready to start growing some of the best vegetables in pots, consider some of these helpful tips to get you started.

Consider Your Container Type and Size

Not sure what kind of container you should use? Don’t worry. Usually, any kind of container will do. However, there are some stipulations to this. Some plants – like eggplant – require wide containers in order to spread their roots. Others, including root crops such as carrots and turnips, need deeper pots so that they can form long tubers. Make sure you research your plant type before selecting your container.

You will want to pay attention to the watering needs of your plants, too. Clay pots usually need more water than plastic or wooden ones, since the porous terracotta will absorb heat and drain water more quickly. Think about the color, too – dark-colored containers will stay warmer than light ones. Always avoid containers made out of treated wood, as it contains chemicals that can be absorbed by your vegetables.

Use the Best Soil

Vegetables don’t usually care about the type of pot they are in, but they do care about the soil. Make sure you add plenty of organic matter or choose a balanced organic potting mix. Make sure the soil is not too light but also not too heavy – you can often balance out the structure of your soil by adding materials like potting soil, peat moss, vermiculite, sand, or perlite, depending on your specific needs.

Mulch and Fertilize Regularly

Fertilizing is important when it comes to growing in pots. Since the plants aren’t being grown directly in the ground, they don’t have access to all the “good stuff” that they normally would be able to access. We’re not just talking about your basic nitrogen and phosphorous, either. Plants also need micronutrients, like calcium and magnesium, in order to thrive. Only a balanced fertilizer can provide this. An organic option, like compost, is best. Not only will it introduce the nutrients your plants need, but it will also provide the soil with beneficial microorganisms, too.

Bring Indoors if Needed

Not all plants can thrive outdoors 365 days out of the year. Consider the climate of your growing zone and how it relates to the growing needs of your plants. Frost-sensitive plants, like peppers and tomatoes, can be brought indoors when the temperature dips, while heat-sensitive vegetables like lettuce should be brought inside during the dog days of summer.

What Are the Advantages of Growing Vegetables in Pots?

There are countless benefits to growing vegetables in containers. Not only does this practice allow you to cultivate plants that you might not easily be able to find at the supermarket (or find without paying a pretty penny) but it’s also exceptionally easy. Container-grown vegetables often retain moisture and tolerate weather fluctuations more easily than those grown in the ground. Plus, since you don’t need to wait for the ground to warm up, you can start a container garden in the spring. A vegetable grown in a pot is also less likely to suffer from weeds, diseases, and insect pests.

So what are you waiting for? Select some pots, select some plants, and start planting today.

20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

Wondering what vegetables grow in the shade? No matter where you might live, it can be tough to find the optimal conditions for growing vegetables.

 

From shade produced by nearby buildings to hefty tree limbs that block out the afternoon sun, finding a garden plot with the perfect amount of sunlight your plants need can be a challenge. However, you don’t need to move mountains in order to grow a productive garden. 

 

Instead, you just need to consider these vegetables that grow in shade. 

 

What is Considered “Shade”?

There are essentially three different sunlight settings that can describe how much light your plants will get during the growing season. 

 

Full sun refers to areas that receive direct sunlight for a  minimum of six hours each day. Usually, this will be sometime between the hours of 10 am and 6pm. 

 

Partial shade, on the other hand, refers to areas that receive three to six hours of sun each day. This can include areas of filtered or dappled sunlight, even if it’s just during a short window each day. 

 

Full shade areas receive no direct sun or even any reflected light during the day. It can be pretty tricky to grow any kind of vegetable in full shade (after all, every plant needs light to grow)- as a result, most of the plants we will recommend in this article should be considered for partial shade instead. 

 

Top 20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

When you’re looking for the best vegetables to grow in the shade, you will want to consider plants like leafy greens (which are sensitive to the sun) and root vegetables, that can tolerate some partial shade as well. 

 

Here are some of the top vegetables that grow in shade. 

 

Beans

Beans require very little work to grow, which is probably why they are found in just about every gardener’s plot. In addition, they grow well with moderate amounts of daily shade. With so many different types of beans to choose from, they’re a smart choice for your shade garden for sure. 

 

Arugula

One of the fastest-growing leafy greens, arugula is a great option for your backyard shade garden. Although not everyone will be fond of arugula’s musky, peppery taste, it can’t be argued that it performs exceptionally well when grown in partial shade.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli loves being grown in lots of shade. A member of the cabbage family, it really only requires a few hours of sunlight each day along with plenty of water. In some places, you might be able to sneak in multiple crops throughout the growing season, too – just make sure you trim back the flowers so the plant doesn’t bolt on you.

 

Beets 

Beets are one of the best cold-hardy crops you can grow, but they are also one of the best vegetables that grow in shade for you to consider, too. Although too much shade can cause your beetroots to become a bit tiny, the greens will still produce remarkably well. Plant beets in succession for a continual harvest and make sure you keep them well-watered!

 

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts – you either love them or you hate them. These plants are fun to watch as they mature and they will do so quite well even in the shade. Brussels sprouts grow well into the cold season and actually prefer being grown in cooler weather. 

 

Spinach

Spinach can be grown with just a few hours of sunlight each day. Because it is a cold-loving plant, it even grows well in the waning daylight hours of fall and spring. NOt only is spinach an excellent salad green, but it can be used in a variety of cooked recipes, too. If you start planting early, you can plant in succession for a crop all season long.

 

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is a colorful beauty for you to consider in your backyard shade garden. Preferring partial shade, this plant is biennial – you can overwinter it to grow it a second year. Chard is easy to grow and requires minimal maintenance, making it perfect for the inexperienced gardener. 

 

Kale

Kale is another superb candidate for your shade garden. Closely related to cabbage, this plant can also be grown in a container and likes cool soil temperatures and lots of shade. It can even handle a light frost!

 

Collard Greens

Yet another cabbage relative on this list is collard greens. This plant tastes delicious sauteed as well as in a salad. Collard greens require at least four hour of sun each day, so if you have a shadier garden that receives a bit of dappled sunlight every now and then, you’re in luck. This plant also performs well in cold climates.

 

Cauliflower

A very close relative to broccoli, cauliflower also grows well in the shade. It can tolerate a ton of cold and shade. Delicious cooked and fresh, cauliflower should be blanched if you want it to have a sweeter taste.

 

Cress

Also known as garden cress, cress is a rare vegetable that many gardeners overlook when they are considering the major vegetables that grow in shade. However, this is a great option for you to consider if you want another leafy green to dd to the dinner table. Not only does it mature with lightning speeds, but it can also be grown in moist soil and is known for its peppery flavor. 

 

Mustard Greens

Move over, spinach and kale. Here’s a new leafy green to consider growing in the shade. Mustard greens can be grown either in full sun or in partial shade, but since they prefer cooler temperatures, you might want to grow them in the shade. 

 

Peas

Peas do quite well in a partially shady location, primarily because they like being cool. However your timing will be important – you need to make sure you sow your seeds and can get a harvest before it gets too hot. 

 

Endive

Endives perform remarkably well with only a few hours of sunlight each day. This is specifically true if you are growing the plant during the hottest days of the summer – offering shade will prevent the plant from bolting too soon. It can also be grown in a pot!

 

Lettuce

Lettuce is truly a gardener’s staple and is a cool-season green that grows well in partial shade. You can grow it in almost complete shade, too – some gardeners even use shade cloth to prevent it from becoming signed in the summer sun. 

 

Radishes

The humble radish is one of the best vegetables to grow in the shade. Not only does it take up very little space, but it doesn’t like a lot of sun or heat – in fact, it will taste woody if you give it too much sun. 

 

Not only do radishes taste great on their own (and there are so many varieties!) the tops can be eaten, too. Radishes can be grown in the fall and the spring and there are plenty of possibilities and varieties for you to grow. 

 

Bok Choy

Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is perfect in soups and salads. It can be grown easily in dappled sunlight or even more serious shade. It requires just two hours of sunlight each day to maintain its deep green leaves. 

 

Green Onions

You might also hear green onions referred to as scallions. These plants grow quickly and are hardy to most conditions. They can be sprouted by soaking the roots in a container of water before transplanting them to partial shade. Delicious in a salad or cooked dish, green onions can sometimes be grown as perennial shade crops, too.

 

Carrots 

Another root vegetable that grows well in the shade is the mighty carrot. Carrots can handle partial shade with grace – if you can provide your carrots with six or more hours of sunlight, they will grow more rapidly, but you can also grow them in the shade. You just might have to wait a bit longer! 

 

Potatoes

Potatoes need at least five hours of sunlight if you want large tubers. However, if you have a shadier spot, feel free to give them a try – you might end up with great boiling potato at the very least! They don’t, however, n eed super hot weather to grow – potatoes prefer soil temperatures in the 40s and 50s. 

 

Tips for Growing Vegetables in the Shade

Invest in Your Soil

The key to growing healthy vegetables, but particularly vegetables that grow in shade, is making sure you have good soil that can actually support plant life. If you are already going to be challenging your crop to grow with minimal sun, it’s super important that your plants have fertile soil that is well-draining and not compacted. Add some compost to help improve your structure and soil fertility.

 

Moderate Moisture

Don’t water your shade garden like you would water a garden in full sun! Moisture won’t evaporate as quickly, so you won’t need to water your garden quite as frequently. If it’s near trees, however, you will need to water a bit more since your vegetables will be competing with the trees for water. 

 

Keep an Eye Out For Pests 

Certain pests are opportunistic little buggers and will seize any opportunity they can get to attack your plants. Shady areas also tend to be a bit cooler and isolated, making them the perfect habitat for shade-loving (but crop-destroying) creatures like snails and slugs. 

 

Prevent Diseases

Just as you will need to monitor the moisture levels in your vegetable garden in the shade, you will also need to be mindful of moisture. You are more likely to suffer from various fungal diseases like powdery mildew, when you are gardening in the shade because your plants won’t have as much opportunity to rid themselves of excess moisture. 

 

Think About Maturation Times 

There are plenty of vegetables that grow in the shade, but it’s important to remember that they won’t grow exactly like their sun-loving counterparts. You may find that your plants take a bit longer to mature than what you see noted on the seed packet.

 

Start Your Seedlings Indoors

Starting seeds ahead of time indoors is a great way to give them a jump start before they need to be in the shade. You can start your own transplants and plant them whenever the ground has warmed.

 

Plant in Succession 

Not sure how well your shade garden is going to perform, or concerned that your plants will take longer to mature? Don’t worry. All you need to do is plant succession. This will allow you to reap multiple harvests of the same crop despite the delays related to the shade. 

 

Grow the Right Plants 

Don’t try to grow plants that are adapted to full sun conditions when you only have partial sun available where you’re trying to garden. Crops that demand lots of light, such as blossoming plants like tomatoes and peppers, will not do well in a shady environment no matter how much you build up your soil ahead of time. 

 

Modify Your Environment 

Consider pruning low tree branches or thinning out tall limbs to let more sunlight pour into your garden. You can also paint nearby surfaces white to reflect more light back onto your garden. You can also use a reflective mulch to serve this purpose. 

 

Grow in Containers 

Growing in containers is a great way to accommodate for an overly shady garden. Not only will you be able to move your plants as the seasons change, but you can bring them inside once the weather cools, too.

 

Why You Should Consider These Vegetables That Grow in Shade

If you have a shady garden and think you can’t successfully grow vegetables, think again. A partially shaded garden not only allows for a longer growing season for cool-season crops (like broccoli) but the shade can also protect your plants from the hot rays of the summer sun. 

 

Shade-grown vegetables also taste better. They tend to be more succulent and less bitter, since they haven’t had to spend all of their energy staying cool. 

 

Consider these tips and order your seeds . There are plenty of vegetables that grow in the shade – and now that you’re no longer in the dark, you should start planting as soon as possible.

13 Best Winter Vegetables To Grow: Ultimate Guide

13 Best Winter Vegetables To Grow: Ultimate Guide

What are the best winter vegetables to grow?

 

This year, we purchased a 10 foot by 12 foot greenhouse just so we can grow more vegetables in the colder months here in Southeast Missouri.

Just because the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping, it doesn’t mean that you have to set your gardening gloves aside. Winter isn’t just a time to dream wistfully of the bountiful harvests of summer – it’s also a great time to plan for the year ahead, as well as to jumpstart your garden for next year. 

There are plenty of winter vegetables to grow, particularly if you live in an area that experiences mild winters. Even if you live in an area with more severe weather, there are plenty of ways to keep your garden growing throughout the coldest months of winter. 

The 13 Best Winter Vegetables to Grow 

1. Onions

Onions are easy to plant and you won’t have to do anything all winter. In most areas, onions have a long growing season and won’t be ready for harvest until next summer anyway. Just make sure you plan carefully because they will still be in the ground when it’s time to begin planting crops in the spring. 

2. Garlic

Garlic is an easy vegetable to grow and there are plenty of varieties to choose from. Even if you experience harsh winters, garlic can survive – you will just need to mulch it heavily to protect it from the heavy freeze. Consider growing options like Chesnok Red and Wight Cristo for a variety of culinary applications. You can learn how to grow garlic here and how to store garlic here.

3. Spinach

Spinach is a cold-hardy crop that can grow throughout much of the winter months in many areas. For the best results, choose perpetual spinach varieties, which will yield you multiple cuttings throughout the season. Sow in the early autumn and you’ll have a crop well into early summer. 

4. Peas

You may not be able to grow peas if you get a heavy snowfall, but in most cases, peas are quite cold hardy. Sow rounded variants in the fall for a headstart next spring. You can also learn how to preserve peas here.

5. Asparagus

Asparagus is a perennial and takes several years to establish. It can survive even the roughest winters in colder growing zones, and fall is the best time to plant it. Choose a variety meant to be planted in the fall, like Pacific Purple. Once you get it established, asparagus will produce up to 25 spears per year – for up to 25 years. You will need to be patient, but you will get a serious return on your investment. 

6. Parsley

One of the hardiest herbs you’ll find, parsley can sometimes survive up to zone 5 in the winter. It will yield bushy greens in the spring before going to spring. Curly parsley tends to be more frost-resistant than flat-leaf parsley.

7. Carrots

Carrots can be grown outside well into the winter months in many areas. Plant them directly in beds and mulch heavily. Carrots that are hit with a frost are often sweeter, so it may actually be to your benefit to keep growing them throughout the colder months. 

8. Leeks

Leeks are inexpensive and produce a bountiful harvest. You can harvest them throughout the year and as long as you have a mild winter, you don’t have to worry about them dying. 

9. Turnips

Turnips grow great during the winter months. As long as temperatures remain just above freezing, you should be able to harvest both the roots and the tops during the winter months. 

10. Leafy Greens

Kale, along with other cold-hardy leafy greens such as chard, lettuce, and bok choy, usually do just fine in the cold temperatures of the winter. You can usually harvest them straight through the winter months (and they’re great for chickens). 

In fact, most greens perform better in the winter. In the summer, these plants often go right to seed. Just don’t forget to water and fertilize when growing greens during the winter – even though they won’t need as much water, the drying air of winter can still sometimes be a problem. 

11. Potatoes

Depending on where you live, you might be able to grow potatoes all throughout the winter months. Although it’s not the best winter vegetables to grow, the potato is still a great option if you experience minimal snowfall. Learn more about growing potatoes in containers here and curing potatoes here.

12. Radishes 

Radishes mature quickly, with some varieties ready in just a month from when you have seeded them. They also don’t need a lot of heat – too much heat damages the texture and flavor of delicate radishes – so they’re perfect candidates for winter growing. 

13. Broad Beans

A sturdier variety of green beans, broad beans can often be planted in fall gardens because they are heartier and more rugged than their narrower cousins. These plants can be grown directly in the winter garden in many areas with mild winters, or they can be grown in an unheated greenhouse. 

Tips for Growing Vegetables in the Winter Months 

Use a Hoop House or Greenhouse

Growing winter vegetables outdoors might be possible in areas that don’t experience hard freezes or heavy snowfall, but if you live in a colder climate, that might not be an option. However, if you have a greenhouse or hoop house (a greenhouse covered in plastic instead of glass, you can easily grow some plants throughout the entire season. Here are some plants to consider:

  • Salad mixes (mustard, lettuce, land cress, etc)
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Thyme 
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes

You can even grow many flowers and fruits in your greenhouse, too!

If you have a greenhouse, you can choose to leave it heated or unheated. Some warm-weather plants, like tomatoes, peppers, and squash can even be grown during the winter months, too. As long as you heat the greenhouse and transfer these plants to pots, you may be able to get them well into the next growing season. 

Consider a Cold Frame 

Cold frames are a great way to extend your growing season, even if you live in a colder growing zone like 3 or 4. Essentially miniature greenhouse over your plants, cold frames can be purchased dor built inexpensively from scrap lumber and glass. 

Just be sure to vent your cold frames, as too much heat can become an enemy to plants in the winter even more quickly than too much cold can. Trapping too much hot air inside can not only dry your plants out but it can also conversely lead to fungal issues should too much moisture also get in there. 

Don’t have the time or resources to buy or build your own cold frame? Don’t worry. You can easily construct a DIY version by positioning hay bales on all sides of a planting bed and then covering the area between with old windows. 

Don’t Forget About Dormant Plants

Some plants might not actually grow during the winter months, but they won’t die back, either. They will simply remain dormant until the temperatures rise and growth can resume. Consider planting a winter vegetable garden in the late summer or early fall so that the vegetables have time to get established before they go dormant.

Mulch 

Mulching can help protect your crops from becoming too dry or frozen. It will also keep the soil warmer when temperatures plummet. Consider using mulch materials like straw or dried leaves, which will help nourish the soil as they break down, too. 

Do a Deep Clean

Even if you have a long list of winter vegetables to grow, that doesn’t mean you can neglect your normal fall planting chores. Cut away any dead foliage and make sure you throw out any diseased or damaged plants. This will prevent rot and also stop pest eggs from proliferating. 

Know Which Plants to Bring Inside

Indoor gardening is a great option for many gardeners who can’t keep things going during the winter months, either due to extreme temperatures and precipitation or because they simply don’t want to garden outside during the winter. 

Many plants can be grown inside in containers. Cold-sensitive plants like tomatoes and peppers are great candidates for this, as are many herbs. 

Protect from Frost and Wind

You can’t control when a frost might strike, but you can take steps to protect your plants. Cover frost-sensitive varieties up with blankets, sheets, or row covers that are draped over stakes. This will help get them through brief cold snaps at the very least. You can also consider heating your greenhouse.

Select Ideal Varieties

Try a variety of crops to see what works best for you, keeping your growing zone and gardening preference in mind. You might also want to experiment a bit with timing to see what planting schedule and rhythms work. Put in new crops whenever you see an empty space and save seeds when you find varieties that perform exceptionally well in your area. 

Why You Should Consider the Best Winter Vegetables to Grow

Winter gardening is a great way to keep the garden going all year long. Not only will it help satisfy your green thumb urges during the colder months of the year, but it will also provide you with plenty of healthy vegetables at a time when they are normally scarce on your dinner plate. 

Plus, growing vegetables in the winter is surprisingly easy. They will naturally grow a bit slower, but you’ll have fewer weeds to contend with. You may not even need to water much between mid-November and mid-February! 

You can start with this list of best vegetables to grow in winter. Try lots of crops to see what works best for you – perhaps start with just one this year and add more varieties as you gain experience. Stay warm!

What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

What Can You Grow In January? Get Crackin’!

All right, y’all. We made it past the holidays, and now we’re into big gardening time. So, you’re probably wondering, “What can you grow in January?”

 

What can you grow in January? Here's vegetable gardening for beginners ideas and when to plant your seeds!!

 

 

 

January is kind of a dull month. All the major holidays are over, we’ve all got sticker shock at how much we spent in the past couple months, and it’s freakin’ cold.

 

So, not much fun, which is where starting your seedlings comes in. The seed catalogues are rolling in, and it’s time to start figuring out what you’ll grow.

 

(this article is an excerpt from my bestselling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.  You can get a copy on Amazon or buy it directly from me which will save you 10% and you’ll get the digital copy for free.

 

Buy your copy right here)

 

What can you grow in January?

Now, there’s definitely some vegetable seedlings you can start indoors under lights, which you can eventually transition out to cold frames.

 

I show you in this article which vegetables do best in cold frames.

 

And there’s some things you can grow right in your kitchen, such as sunflower microgreens (tasty for you AND your chickens).

 

So, if you’re still wondering “what can you grow in January?” then hang onto your pants (please, do, really. No one wants to see you with your pants down), and check out the list below.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala)

My old friend kale does well in cold weather, and because of that, you can start it right now if the gardening itch is getting to you.

 

You can buy kale seeds from my favorite store Seeds Now.

 

Keep that grow light about 1-2 inches above the pots. I tend to broadcast kale and then thin because the seeds are so tiny.

 

My old eyes and cranky finger joints can’t handle the fiddly-ness of individual potting. If this sounds like you, then broadcast in trays filled with soil, and cover lightly with dirt.

 

In Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening, I show you how to care for kale, harvest it, and save the seeds. All important stuff for a self-sufficient garden!

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

So, confession time. I grow lettuce for my chickens and my rabbits because it’s fun watching them eat it, and I’m not a huge fan of lettuce personally.

 

You can get organic lettuce seeds for a reasonable price right here.

 

I started using this plan because I always wanted to grow in January, even though I’m not a huge fan of lettuce. But it works out, and the critters are happy with everything I grow for them (in January and the rest of the year, too).

 

So, lettuce isn’t that much different than kale, although it IS less cold loving.

 

Because we live in Missouri, and don’t have a spring, I start these in January. The rule of thumb is to start lettuce seeds indoors under lights about 6 weeks before the last spring frost date.

 

Go here if you want to grow in January based on the last spring frost date.

 

Lettuce seeds like a heat range of 45 – 75 degrees for germination, so if you’re startings seeds inside your house, you should be okay, but if you’re starting out in a garage, you might need a heat mat like this one.

 

If you care for your lettuce seedlings well enough, you should get quite a few early spring harvests out of them.

 

Just remember that your lettuce will be with you indoors through January and on into the later months before transplant, so they’ll need a bit of space – go with 6 inch pots to start them so they have plenty of room to grow.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Mustard (Brassica juncea)

Mustard is another one I start to grow in January. It’s best to start mustard 3 weeks before your last spring frost date, but in this neck of the woods, that can be very early.

 

In 2017, we had a series of very warm weeks in February and into March, and it never really cooled down again.

 

And mustard doesn’t like heat, so it shoots up, and I lose my crop. Which is why I start it under lights as early as January 15.

 

Like kale, mustard seeds are small and fiddly, so I broadcast in a tray and then thin.

 

Those seeds like temps at least 55 degrees, so again, if you’re starting them outside in a greenhouse or garage, use a heat mat.

 

You can also learn how to heat your off grid greenhouse, which is simpler than it seems.

 

Mustard seeds are another one I save. It’s easy, and I show you how to do it in Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.

 

Onions (Allium cepa)

Onions are a bit tricky, and if you want to grow in January and transplant, now is a good time to get going.

 

Now, fair warning: They need a lot of space and it’s easier to start them from sets. But if you’re dedicated, you can definitely have success starting them under lights in January. Onions need temps over 30 degrees to flourish, so just remember that when you start your grow tray.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

I’ve never had much success growing spinach indoors since it doesn’t transplant well, but maybe you’ll have better luck.

 

You can buy organic spinach seeds here.

 

I prefer direct sowing, especially since it can survive light frosts (the plant, at least. The seedlings….that’s another story).

 

Spinach needs soil temps of at least 40 degrees to grow, but doesn’t do well if soil temps are above 70 degrees. So, this is a good one to start in a cold frame or in a garage under lights. Or a greenhouse!

 

Herbs

You can start various herbs now for transplant in your garden in spring/early summer. If your house is warm enough, you can start them under lights without a heat mat (although it’s easier with the heat mat).

 

You can buy organic herb seeds here.

 

square foot gardening plant spacing

Use these tricks to starting seeds easier

There are some seeds that take a few extra steps to start (or, it can help them start better). In this article, I show you 2 easy tricks that should be in your master gardener toolkit to starting seeds from certain vegetables easier!

 

Wondering what can you grow in January for your chickens? Well, luckily, pretty much all the veggies we discuss in this article are great for chickens. Mine particularly like kale, herbs, and spinach!

 

square foot gardening plant spacing




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11 Vegetables You Can Start In August For A Full Fall Harvest

11 Vegetables You Can Start In August For A Full Fall Harvest

It’s August, which means it’s time to start thinking about cool weather vegetables!

 

(Y’all were thinking about pumpkin spice, weren’t you?)

 

(This article is an excerpt from my #1 Amazon Best Selling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. You can grab it on sale on by clicking here!)

 

Even though it’s still hot in most of the US, the reality is that soon it will be chilly and crisp and ready to break out the Halloween candy.

 

But not quite yet – there’s still plenty you can plant to harvest before frost hits….AND plenty you can plant and overwinter.

 

Here’s 11 vegetables and herbs you can start right now, even if you’re a little late to the game!

 

11 Vegetables You Can Start In August For A Full Fall Harvest

 

Beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit….Right now you can plant both pole beans and bush beans.

 

We’ve planted bush beans because it’s very hot and humid into October, and I’ve noticed vining plants don’t do so well in the super hot months (we’re in Zone 7). Bush-type plants also help conserve water.

 

You can either plant a lot of beans at once (and then you’ll have to preserve large batches – just be aware of it) or succession plant every 7 days from now until August 15.  

 

Give them a Southern exposure so they get as much light as possible.

 

Cabbage

If you haven’t gotten your sauerkraut quota for the year yet, there’s still time to plant some cabbage. In our area (Zone 7), cabbage planted in March doesn’t do so well in the heat of June, so a late summer planting (with a maturity date in October) fairs better – cabbage loves cool weather.

 

If your cabbage hasn’t fully matured by the time frost hits (it can survive in low temps down to about 25 degrees), harvest the large leaves for wraps – super yummy!

 

Cover Crops

Cover crops, such as clover, buckwheat, alfalfa, and any other member of the Little Rascal’s gang, can help preserve your top soil and add nutrients that’ll feed your plants the following spring.

 

Another option is winter wheat (and that’s probably what I’ll go with because it’s readily available here).

 

The type of cover crop you should plant will depend on your zone, so do a bit of research to make sure you pick one that can withstand your local climate. Start now so they’re established before frost sets in.

 

Garlic

It’s not just to ward off vampires and bad dates. Garlic is best planted in late August and over wintered for harvest in June the following year. You can read here exactly how to do that.

 

Just be sure to over winter with lots of straw on top to prevent freezing. Try elephant varieties for milder taste or for using in herbal remedies.

 

Kale

Who doesn’t love kale? If you don’t want kale chips or kale salad, you can always add it smoothies. Plant by mid-august, and wait until after a mild frost to harvest – the leaves will be sweeter!

 

If you’re cool with cold frames, you might even be able to overwinter if you place your kale in a southern-facing exposure.

Lettuce

Lettuce is super boring…until it’s the only thing growing in your garden. Then it’s better than Betty White, like little green bits of spent summers.

 

Start sowing your lettuce now, and it should be well-established by fall. Choose early-maturing varieties for best results (and abundant late-fall salads).

 

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens aren’t the sexiest leafy greens, but they have their place. Plant them now, and harvest after a light frost. They’ll taste sweeter and add a little bit of spice to your salads.

 

Water consistently during the hot days of August, and don’t use them for wraps after harvest – WAY too much spice (unless you like that sort of thing. Then totally go for it).

 

Peas

I’m not a huge fan of peas, but even I get into them when it’s time to plant a fall garden. Choose early-maturing varieties, and consider green peas or sugar peas because they taste oh-so-sweet.

 

If you have too many to preserve all at once, then you can easily freeze them in small batches for winter soups and stews.

 

Radishes

Radishes are probably the most overlooked, instant-gratification vegetable out there. But plant some now, and you’ll be rolling in them within 30 days.

 

Succession plant every week until 30 days before the last frost date. Radishes can withstand a light frost, but a hard frost will do them in.

 

Spinach

Spinach is so cool you might even be able to overwinter it. At least, in Zone 7, we can! (No cold frame needed…..)

 

Start it now, add it to breakfast smoothies come October. Loves cold weather, less than 12 hours of sunlight, and long walks on the beach.

 

Turnips

You can grow turnips for the leaves and the roots. It’s like two veggies for the price of one, and if for some reason the roots don’t grow into purple and white globes, you still have SOMETHING to harvest.

 

Broadcast turnip seeds then thin to at least 4 inches apart. Harvest when the roots are about the size of golf balls so they’re tender and not woody.

 

The leaves are sublime lightly cooked in olive oil, but please – don’t do what my mother-in-law does and slop them so full of oil they’re like looking at a heart attack – be gentle with the oil. Mix with mustard greens for a tasty side dish.