Are You Growing Anything Outdoors This Time of Year?

| 12/30/2009 11:25:36 AM

Tags: winter, greenhouses, question to readers,

For most of us gardening is a distant memory (or maybe a New Year's resolution!) by now. But we could learn a lot from the brave souls who manage to coax something out of the ground (or a greenhouse) even in the bitter cold. If you're an intrepid winter gardener, please share some cold-weather gardening tips with the rest of us in the comments section below.

dave pierce_4
2/8/2010 8:04:42 AM

here in n.w. florida, all my regular winter veggies (lettuce,cauliflower, brocoli, cabbage, collards, onions ,and garlic) are still going strong. we did have about 2 1/2 weeks of real cold (lows in the 10's - 20's / highs in the 30's) slowed them down to a crawl. they have made a full recovery.

the webb lake woodtick_2
1/29/2010 10:45:11 AM

Are you kidding? it's -16 degrees here in the northwoods of Wisconsin. The only thing we're growing outside is ICE! Spring is a long ways off . . . .

1/28/2010 11:46:03 AM

I have four cold frames made out of wooden frames and shower doors. I've got kale, beets, mesculn, cilantro, and indian mustard growing in them. Just ate a homegrown salad yesterday. I've also dug up carrots and parsnips this past week. Parsnips were sown in the spring(about 9 months ago) and have overwintered beautifully. The carrots were sown in early fall and are now an inch in diameter. I live in North/Central OK and we've had plenty of miserable weather but my winter crops are protected (mulch or cold frames) and are doing just fine. Other people living in zones 6-7 can try similar crops as long as you plant in a sunny location and check moisture in soil frequently.

julie adolf
1/28/2010 9:57:04 AM

We've had a cold winter in SC...but prior to our cold snap, I create a potager garden, fenced in so that our three pups couldn't destroy it! It was my first experience with both a formally designed edible garden as well as winter gardening. I planted 8 varieties of heirloom lettuce, heirloom spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, strawberries as a border in front, and violas (edible flowers) in the back border. I'm also growing two varieties of heirloom garlic in our "regular" garden--I haven't grown garlic before, but I'm excited about it! I also have literally thousands of heirloom tomato and pepper seedlings growing inside--70+ varieties of tomatoes and 30+ of peppers. I'm so ready for spring! Happy planting! Julie

1/21/2010 9:07:14 PM

Northern California Upper Sacramento Valley. Brocolli, Brocolli Rabe, Cauliflower, Salad Greens, Kohlrabi, green onions, radishes, chard, carrots, turnips, parsnips and beets! I just keep planting in the raised beds and food keeps growing! I put my first seeds in the ground May 1 and have not had a break yet! I had fresh tomatoes and basil for Thanksgiving! I have transplants started 24/7....I have gardened most of my life, but this is the first time I've attempted to grow year round: I do believe my experiment has been a success.

1/20/2010 9:58:19 PM

In mid. Georgia I've been growing collards, rosemary, turnip greens, parnips,cabbage, kale, mustard greens, (had green beans up till killing frost at Thanksgivin),and potatoes.

1/19/2010 11:06:24 AM

What can you grow in the winter outdoor around joplin mo area? So far as I know we have not gotten temps. below 18 and highs around 50 degrees.

1/18/2010 6:24:46 PM

Gardening is always fun and easy.I really enjoy in summer when I get lot of outside space to garden,I make every effort to plant different vegetables and herbs.My patio is filled with different vegetable plants,herbs and flowers in summer. In winter some herbs like mint grow inside.I experiment with sprouts indoor,but I wish more plants can be grown inside. We are always waiting for summer to arrive soon.

microbiomom in al
1/10/2010 5:31:20 AM

Cabbage, brussel sprouts, Swiss chard, dill,and oregano. The unusual cold has not damaged them as of Jan 10.

1/4/2010 11:34:53 PM

Well out here in good old frigid Minnesota, there is only one thing known to grow outside in the winter... ICICLES!!! :)

1/4/2010 11:33:25 PM

Up here in great frigid Minnesota there is only one thing known to grow outside in the winter.... ICICLES!!!

1/3/2010 8:10:37 PM

Here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (Portland) I just harvested broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts from my community garden plot. These, plus carrots, are about the extent of my unprotected winter crops. But it's nice to get some fresh vegetables in December and January. Cabbage is iffy, not because of the weather but for the slugs who hide between the leaves when they aren't munching them.

donna carver
1/3/2010 11:18:22 AM

I tried to extend the season this year with winter-hardy varieties planted in late summer, but I ran out of sunlight. By the middle of August, the sun here in the Boston area dips below the trees on the southern edge of my yard. I'll try another spot next year. Meanwhile, the ancho pepper that I grew in a pot last summer in hopes of wintering over is exceeding my expectations. Not just surviving, it is flourishing -- flowering profusely and now setting fruit. I've been using my office windowsill for the last couple of years as my "nursery" for seedlings and other plants. I find it a lot more fun than the usual house plants.

darla suleske
1/3/2010 9:29:49 AM

With all the scares lately about contaminated veggies, I know exactly how mine have been grown and handled. I am trying to be self sustaining.We also have an orchard and edible landscaping around the house as well as 2 big vegetable gardens so I can grow enough to preserve or can most of the fruits and vegetables we eat. I also use a dehydrator often as well as make my own yogurt and soft cheese.For 5 years now I have been using raised bed gardening and also have had fresh veggies year round. Carrots, chard, spinach, kale, walking onions, garlic, mustards, beet greens, orach all grow well here in the winter. I use old glass windows as a wind break and also use row cover material around some of the raised beds. I have a bay laurel still alive and other herbs such as rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, catnip, and lemon balm supply us year round.

1/1/2010 10:59:17 PM

On the last day of December here in South-western Ohio, we harvested mixed salad greens, arugala and baby kale from our garden for our dinner salad. These were planted in early November and have been under a "hoop house" since early December. We also have radishes, as well as mature kale and chard in the hoop house. Last year we kept spinach plants alive through the entire winter (zone 6) and ate fresh spinach salad in February. Our compost piles are cooking away under tarps, which cover the huge piles of chopped leaves collected from our neighbors and horse manure. The light snows we have gotten melt quickly from the tops of the piles due to the radiant heat produced.

hazel watson_2
1/1/2010 7:02:34 PM

In late early to mid-October I planted a very small, trial-size fall/winter garden (beets, carrots, turnips, mixed lettuces, mache, onions,and claytonia) in a 4'x4' raised bed, using row cover under a "tent" of clear plastic stretched over 2 10' pvc pipes arched corner to corner. The plastic lay outside the frame (2'x6' boards)and was anchored with 1 x 2 boards weighted with bricks. Although awkward and somewhat difficult for me(I'm 76 and have several disabilities) to get under it to harvest the greens, it did seem to be working. We enjoyed several salad cuttings of beet tops, lettuces, mache and claytonia, and a few turnip leaves (although some of them were partly eaten by the larvae of a white moth) I'm in zone 5, and winter came early and ferociously in mid November. However, we were still enjoying salad greens in early December. Then came the terrible gusting winds, bitter cold and snow. They blew both my covers completely off, and I was unable to get it all back together again. If anything has survived under the snow, I will be very surprised, but pleased. I plan to try again next year, and will have several improvements in place, I hope.

1/1/2010 6:24:52 PM

I live and garden at the 2,700 ft level of the Sierra Nevada mountains, zone 7. We have had 10 inches of snow and temps in the teens. The snow has melted and temps are now in the 40s, days and 30s nites. I am growing kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, onions, bak choi, garlic, spinach, carrots, radishes, chard and romaine lettuce. When the temps dropped below freezing I covered everything with Harvest guard and when I knew it would hit the teens, I put another layer on. I also grow Meyer Lemons and a palm tree, also double covered with Harvest Guard. All the above mentioned veggies will not grow in the summer here as our temps will reach 100+. Winter gardening is fun and rather lazy. NO weeding, or pests!

vickie houser
1/1/2010 3:40:30 PM

I'm in Iowa and it's 9 degrees outside and snow covered. Right now I am growing rosemary and tyme in a southern window (the basil did not make it) and attempting potatoes in a large pot in the basement. The potato plants are begining to grow, but I don't know if I will get a crop. I'd like to grow some winter crops outside, but was not sure about cold frames in these temps. I have some old wooden storm windows I was going to build with. Better get it done if I want to try it out.

1/1/2010 1:46:28 PM

This is our first year growing 12 months in Concord, Massachusetts. We have TONS of greens of more types than I had previously been able to imagine! And leeks, turnips, a few other root veggies. We feel like we're merely scratching the surface so far. We use both a solar greenhouse with floating row cover over the crops inside it, and row cover on outdoor beds (later covered with low tunnels). I often blog about our experiments in 12 month gardening/season extension at

1/1/2010 12:32:41 PM

We have a school garden in zone 6, just north of the Bronx, New York City. One long hoophouse and a small one (raised by 6th-graders and me in some very tough weather, three separate times!)---plus a not-too-coldworthy cold frame---are protecting a hundred-odd kale, collard, cabbage and lettuce plants. It's in a courtyard, thus sheltered somewhat, but atop a hill. As of Dec. 23, plants under the tunnel were fine, though ground was frozen; on Jan. 4 we'll see what survived the many 20-plus degree days. We started these as seedlings in mid-October.

ira wallace
1/1/2010 12:25:21 PM

Here at our winter garden trials at Acorn Community Farm in Mineral, Virginia we have so many greens even after a record breaking 2 feet of snow and days of nighttime temps in the low teens. Under floating row cover outside we still have lots of cabbage, kale, turnips, lettuce, spinach, arugula,collards, mizuna, beets, carrots,winter radishes, chervil, parsley and winter radishes as well as a number of Brett Grosghal's Evenstar Farm Ice Bred winter greens. We just lost our broccoli when the row cover blew off during the last storm. Last year our late Thompson broccoli held up giving side sprouts until February. All of our seeds are from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

1/1/2010 12:23:18 PM

We live north of Seattle so the peak of our harvest season is in late September. We were still eating out of the garden in early November. We planted lettuce, spinach, cabbage and mache in our cold frames in September, but only the mache lived since the summer was so dry. We've been harvesting baby mache since November and replanted the lettuce in November. The lettuce has reached the size of starts and promises to yield an early spring harvest. We will plant spinach and lettuce in the other cold frames in February for spring greens since we don't usually have harvestable lettuce and spinach in this climate until July when direct seeded, then we are fighting bolting. June through September is dependable growing weather here, so starts and covers are the only way to garden!

kathy k_2
1/1/2010 11:47:37 AM

I have not done a lot with any kind of gardening. However, in 2008, I planted some fall / winter vegetables -- cabbage, collards, brussels sprouts, broccoli. I'd tried tunnels, but I think my plastic was too thin. It kept sagging under rain water. I finally took it down. However, I was curious as to how long I could keep things growing, so I "experimented." I got some blankets from a second-hand store, and when temperatures dipped, I covered my produce with a blanket or two, and a tarp. Everything came through our one dip into single-digit temperatures just fine. (I have lettuce (a mix of young plants I bought), broccoli, and cabbage in my garden now. However, I'm away from home over the holidays, so don't know what things will look like when I get home next week. It's supposed to be in the 20's the next couple of nights there.)

margie in ga
1/1/2010 11:27:51 AM

Here in north Georgia I have leeks, tatsoi,mustard, kale and turnip greens along with garlic, thyme, and sorrel. Will try more next fall!

donna pitts
1/1/2010 11:14:45 AM

This is the first winter I have tried gardening. It has turned out to be a great idea. I moved to Alabama from Fort Worth Texas about a year ago to get away from the fast paced world and have found myself in love with the land... Now I will say that I have made many "new gardener" mistakes on top of the frost getting some of my precious plants; but, for the most part - I have Collard Greens, Turnips, Cabbage, Spinach and Brussels looking mighty beautiful today. I haven't spent alot of time on upkeep either. My husband swears he is getting a greenhouse built asap, but until then this outside garden is doing wonderful.

russell meyers
1/1/2010 10:53:42 AM

Here in Central New Mexico, I have a cold frame which has various lettuce plants, spinach and garlic planted. They're growing very slowly, not sure they'll survive to an edible stage. Going to keep trying for now. By next winter, I'll have a greenhouse built which should do much better.

1/1/2010 10:53:20 AM

We live in rural northeastern Washington somewhere between zones 5 and 6. Our biggest challenge is latitude and length of daylight hours, but we're still able to grow crisp, tasty salad greens in an unheated greenhouse with row covers inside (thanks Eliot Coleman!) during the coldest, darkest months of the year. They don't grow during December through early February, but we can certainly pick and eat them all winter! It's exciting, too, to get an early start on spring crops.

1/1/2010 10:41:24 AM

east texas ,september i plant elbon rye as a green manure crop in the garden along with my winter garden of turnips,mustards,parsnips,carrots,collards,cabbage,sometimes a few other things i try brodcast them togather the rye protects the other things from to much cold and is great soil builder , nemtode, weed killer . turn it in early it wont let seeds sprout for about two to three weeks after you turn it under.

1/1/2010 10:37:30 AM

Here in Central CA our summers are too hot for cabbabe, broccoli, lettuce and many greens. Fortunately our winters are mild enough that we grow these outside as "winter crops". Freezes here seldom drop below 28F. This year I have some of my lettuce under a fabric tunnel which is helping it to grow a little faster and preventing wind or frost damage to the leaves. I'll be experimenting with this method on other crops.

1/1/2010 10:23:10 AM

Here on our organic farm, we are growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, oregano, as well as over 100 other things all outdoors. Of course, it probably helps that we are south of Miami, hence the avocados, bananas, litchees, tamarind, mangos, etc.

larry snyder_1
1/1/2010 10:01:17 AM

I'm growing cabbage here in Arizona at 4200 ft. This is the second year last year was very successful this year looks good. I cover them with a poly tunnel.

1/1/2010 9:33:26 AM

This is my 2nd year growing baby greens in zone 6 that were started in the fall of 2009. I even have full-sized collards and kale that were started fall 2008! The baby greens make for a hearty salad, so delicious in the cold winter months. I use Eliot Coleman's advice using row cover and plastic over tunnels. It works. Find him at His books tell you what to do, and he lives in Maine. We had a warm spell last week where the ground softened. I harvested a few of my parsnips. They were about 2" across at the crown. I will bake them to concentrate the flavors then puree them into a creamy soup. Yum, yum.

sally craven_3
1/1/2010 9:13:19 AM

This is our second year of using cold frames to extend the growing season. On Christmas eve, we harvested kale, arugala, 2 different kinds of lettuce, chinese cabbage, radishes, garlic, leeks, and collard greens from the garden. Our cold frames are mostly reused materials, except for investing in a roll of clear plastic (like the kind to cover windows for extra insulation.)The plastic is draped over an old hollywood bed frame shaped like an upside down V. We had some left over garden wire fencing and used it to help support the plastic walls. That's it. No heat source other than the sun. This next week will be a real test as the temperatures will dip into the single digits. Pretty amazing for a northern Kentucky garden!

1/1/2010 7:58:52 AM

Greens, greens, greens! in north Alabama we grow turnips, mustard greens, rape, kale, and other greens. They will sometimes grow all winter. No cold frames required!

sara mason
12/31/2009 10:52:03 AM

Sadly, I am sitting in the middle of eight inches of snow and I'm not growing anything outside....yet. There is always hope. Especially in this weather, I am thinking a little greenhouse for me might be a good idea.

l. nelson
12/31/2009 8:16:17 AM

Here in Oklahoma arugula is ridiculously easy to grow in cold frames.

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