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!

Easy Herb Harvesting For Chickens!

Easy Herb Harvesting For Chickens!

Main takeaways:

  • Lemon balm and basil have lots of nutrients and health benefits for chickens
  • Ducks love them too!
  • Lemon balm is very easy to grow – you can harvest your first year, and it’ll grow back!
  • To easily clean herbs, put them into a 5 gallon bucket, add a top, and shake.

 

More reading:

Which herbs are great for hens?

How to grow an herb garden

Immune supporting herbs for chickens

 

What Can Chickens Eat In Your Garden? Planning a Chicken Garden for All Seasons: Spring

What Can Chickens Eat In Your Garden? Planning a Chicken Garden for All Seasons: Spring

What can chickens eat in your garden? Well, plenty. But you have to grow something first! And luckily, this article will show you everything you can grow as treats for your backyard chickens and ducks!

 

I’ve invited my friend Julia of ReformStead.com to tell us how she transforms her garden into a chicken garden each year! 

 

Growing fruits and veggies for your chickens is easy – and it’s a great way to provide fresh produce to your flock!

 

Planting a Chicken Garden In Spring

Planting a garden is a great way to provide an abundance of fresh, healthy food for your backyard chicken flock. It’s easy to add some of your chicken’s favorites to the garden and grow them alongside your family’s vegetables.

 

All you have to do is harvest and feed them to your chickens once they are ripe. As a bonus, this can help you save money on your chicken’s feed bill.

 

With a little planning, you can do your best to provide your flock with access to these fresh fruits and vegetables year-round.

What can chickens eat with tomatoes and hens

What Can Chickens Eat In Your Garden?

How to Plan & Grow a Seasonal Garden for Your Chickens

Planning a garden for your chickens doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s a good idea to have something green, or fresh, for them year-round. Pasture grass can serve this purpose during warmer seasons, however extra produce is still good for them in addition to pasture.

 

It’s also good to keep in mind that your chickens lay more eggs when the weather is nice, and that’s usually when you’ll harvest the most fresh vegetables. Greens high in omega-3’s, herbs, and any fresh garden produce is especially good to feed your chickens during this time (you can find a complete list of alternative feed for chickens here).

 

If you’re wondering “What can chickens eat from the garden,” in the following lists, I’ve focused on produce that your chickens will love best and that are easy to grow.

 

However, don’t forget “weeds” like purslane, mallow, dandelion, and many more are great for chickens. Make sure to harvest these “weed” greens for them too as you find them in your garden this year.

 

Before we get to the list though, let’s talk about what chickens can eat, and what they should avoid.  

 

What Garden Produce Do Chickens Eat?

It is important to know what chickens can and cannot eat before you plan your garden. Chickens can eat practically anything, within reason. For starters, here’s a list of 107 things a chicken can eat.

 

There are a few plants/foods you’ll want to avoid growing for your chickens.

 

Not advisable for chickens:

  • Rhubarb
  • Tomato & Eggplant Leaves (tomato fruits are fine)
  • Raw Potatoes & Green Potato Skins
  • Uncooked dry Beans & Rice
  • Onions and peppers aren’t going to be their favorites either

 

(Maat: Here’s a table of what chickens can’t eat – you can print it off and keep it handy on your fridge:

 

However, there is some debate over whether or not some of these are really bad for chickens. You can read more details in my article, 11 Things Not to Feed Chickens, where I go into this subject in more detail.

 

What to Grow & When for Your Chickens: Spring

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zones 3-4

Last frost date (average): May 15th

 

April

Start Indoors:

  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Dill

 

Start Outside:

  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Radishes (chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Plant fruit trees/shrubs

 

(Chickens love fallen mulberries and they drop tons of fruit–good for the chickens, but make sure to plant away from walkways and living areas. Figs, elderberries, and blackberries are also good options.)

 

Find out what else to plant in April here.

 

May

Start Indoors:

  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Dill

 

Start Outside:

  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Carrots
  • Radishes (chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale

After the last frost, you can transplant seedlings out (after hardening them off) and plant squash, melons, tomatoes, basil, dill, etc., from seed.

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

 

June

Transplant seedlings

  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Pretty much all herbs

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

 

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zones 5-7

Last frost date (average): April 15th

 

April

Start Indoors:

  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Rosemary (potted)

 

Start Outside:

  • Basil
  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Carrots (Plant early in the month. chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes (chickens will eat leaves & root)
  • Plant fruit trees/shrubs (Chickens love fallen mulberries, figs, elderberries, blackberries and more.)
  • After last frost set out transplants, and continue to plant warm loving crops from seed (squash, melons, corn, etc.)
  • Rosemary (potted)

Find out what else to plant in April here.

 

May

Start Outside:

  • Beets (chickens will eat leaves & root if you cook it for them.)
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Squash
  • Radishes
  • Rosemary (Potted)
  • Tomatoes
  • Melons
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Basil
  • Pretty much all herbs

 

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

 

June

Start Outside:

  • Tomatoes (potted)
  • Squash
  • Melons
  • Herbs

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

 

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zone 8

Last frost date (average): March 15th

 

April

Plant outdoors:

  • Corn
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes (learn to grow tomatoes here)
  • Squash
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Pretty much all herbs
  • Rosemary 

Find out what else to plant in April here.

 

May

  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

 

June

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

 

Chicken Gardening by Month: Zone 9

Last frost date (average): February 15th

 

(These are some of the slowest months for planting in zone 9–things are just too hot out. However, even these few plants will help your chickens a lot as we wait until the cooler months come again.)

 

April

  • Basil
  • Corn
  • Muskmelons
  • Radishes
  • Rosemary (Potted. I like to plant it by their coop, protect it the first few years until established and then let them eat it and enjoy the shade–they love the plant!)
  • Squash

Find out what else to plant in April here.

 

May

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Moringa (I have this planted behind our chicken coop. I imagine they eat the leaves, but I know they love to hang out back there in the shade. This is a more tropical plant are requires warmth with little to no frost. It grows great in our zone 9, and it would do well in zone 10. Very easy to grow from seed.)
  • Muskmelons

Find out what else to plant in May here.

If you want to buy produce at the farmers market, here’s what’s in season.

 

June

  • Basil
  • Muskmelons
  • Start tomato seeds indoors for fall
  • Moringa

 

Find out what else to plant in June here

Find a list of what’s in season at the farmer’s market here.

 

Julia Hubler lives in Arizona on two and a half acres, with HOT summers, lots of cacti and amazing sunsets! A sinner saved by grace first and foremost, she is also a homeschool graduate living with her family at home and serving the King, Jesus Christ, above all. She blogs at ReformStead.com about everything homesteading. You can also follow her on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/reformstead/ , Instagram https://www.instagram.com/reformstead/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/reformstead/ .

 

Still wonder “what can chickens eat in your garden?” Probably not – there’s so many options! Have fun planting your chicken garden this spring!

Want Gourmet Ingredients Right At Your Fingertips? Grow These 10 Easy But Oh-So-Delicious Herbs!

Want Gourmet Ingredients Right At Your Fingertips? Grow These 10 Easy But Oh-So-Delicious Herbs!

Have you ever moved to a new home and realized you didn’t quite know what you were getting into?

 

That’s what happened when we moved to our farm. We were very used to easy sources for herbs, creme fraiche, and other yummy ingredients.

 

(Want more great down-home gardening advice? Grab your copy of my new book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening available now on Amazon!)

 

Buuuuttt…good luck finding them in a 50 mile radius in this rural town.

 

In fact, part of the reason we started our homestead was so we could have access to fresh, organic ingredients that otherwise we would have zero access to (or at least ingredients that hadn’t been sprayed with a ton of Round-up or shipped from questionable sources overseas) – herbs included.

 

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, or just want to bring the garden indoors, here’s 10 easy, versatile, and gourmet herbs we’ve had success with!

 

You can grow them in your own kitchen, and they’ll have your friends convinced you’re either a green-thumb savant and/or Gordon Ramsay himself.

 

Enjoy!

 

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

You can grow basil as an annual herb. For classic and aromatic flavor; you can try Genovese Basil. Grow Lemon Basil for a citrus flavor and Spicy Globe if you’ll like a Basil herb that grows compactly (8 to 10 inches tall). Spicy Globe basil looks great in pots. Plant in at least a 6-inch pot, keep watered, and fertilize with compost once a month. Ready to harvest when the plant is 6-inches tall, well established, and consistently growing leaves. Easy pesto anyone?

 

Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Although this initially grows very slowly, with enough patience, it will eventually form a bush or small tree which you can easily train into a wide array of shapes, or even a topiary. To make it easy start, you can purchase a young, organic, 1- to 2-foot plant and begin nurturing it. Perfect for soups and stews.

 

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)

Also known as French parsley, this annual herb shares a striking similarity to delicate overtones of anise in terms of appearance and taste. Water regularly, and feed compost every other month. To harvest Chervil, all you need to do is snip the outer leaves and stems.

 

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

This is a grass-like herb with a mild onion flavor. Perfect on baked potatoes, or whenever you need a delicate, fresh, onion flavor. When harvesting, it is highly important to cut small bunches of leaves back into the soil level in order to keep new ones growing constantly.

 

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

Plant in a deep pot because Cilantro has a long taproot, and needs room to grow. It’s best to plant is where you intend to keep it because it doesn’t do well with transplanting. Keep in a sunny area since it loves warmth, and water regularly.

 

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill is an aromatic annual herb which is best known for its leaves when it is grown indoors. You can also grow it for its seeds – if you’re able to stop yourself from eating it! Add to soups and curries, or with fish. Fernleaf dill is a compact herb which is perfect for indoor growth.

 

Marjoram (Origanum spp.)

This herb originates from the Mediterranean and it is a member of the oregano family. However it stands out from other members of its botanical family in terms of flavor, which is distinctly sweeter and more delicate. Sweet marjoram can be grown in pots on a sunny kitchen window sill. Plant in a 6-inch pot, and water regularly.

 

Mints (Mentha spp.)

Peppermint and spearmint are both awesome choices for your kitchen. You can harvest it for tea or as flavoring in a salad. It’s hardy and easy to grow as long as it gets water regularly (if the soil is dry below the surface, it’s time to water.) If growing outdoors, you should ensure to put mint in its own personal container as it can easily outgrow and choke other herbs. When the plant is young but established, snip off new growth to encourage the plant to spread and develop more stems.

 

Oregano (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum)

There’s a few different types of oregano. For one that packs a lot of flavor, Greek oregano can grow up to about 12 inches in pots (plant in a 6 to 8-inch pot for best results). Ensure to harvest oregano leaves regularly in order to encourage the growth of new ones.

 

 

Parsley (Petroselinum spp.)

Both Italian flat-leaf and curly-leaf parsley grow effectively when put indoors. When harvesting, ensure that you cut off the outer leaves. Doing this will spur the growth of new leaves from its center and will keep it productive for a long period of time, possibly several months.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have a favorite herb to grow in your kitchen? Leave a comment below!

Leafy Greens For Healthy Hens! [Podcast]

Leafy Greens For Healthy Hens! [Podcast]

Leafy greens are some of the healthiest “treats” you can give your backyard chickens.

 

And now is the perfect time to start them!

 

(Want my favorite leafy green seed package for chickens? Click here to grab the exact one I use!)

 

 

While I don’t personally like leafy greens too much, my hens gobble them up whenever we throw some bunches into the coop. 

 

Greens are also easy to grow, and an easy way to save a bit of money.

 

In this episode, we discuss several varieties of leafy greens that are perfect for your hens.

You’ll learn:

    • How to grow spinach, lettuce, kale, and more!
    • When to transplant them
    • Just why they’re so great for your fluffy butts