The snow is flying. The ground is frozen. It’s obvious you can’t garden in these conditions. Or can you? By utilizing techniques such as cold-frame gardening and learning what vegetables grow in snow, you can have a successful winter vegetable garden.
How to Grow Veggies in the Winter
Warmth and sunshine are the two must-haves for a successful winter garden. Cold-hardy vegetables can survive below-freezing temperatures overnight. But for these veggies to grow, they need a minimum of 40 degrees F. (4.4 C.) and approximately 6 hours of sunlight during the day.
Location determines the amount of sunlight your winter garden will recieve. When planting a winter vegetable garden in late summer or early fall, take into account that the days are shorter and the sun resides lower in the sky during the winter months. Choose the sunniest location and avoid areas where buildings and trees cast longer shadows in the winter.
To prevent the ground from freezing and retain warmth around the plants, protection from the elements is required. Row covers, hotbeds and cold-frame gardening methods are the least expensive options, with greenhouses being a bit pricier. In many areas, radiant heating from the sun will provide adequate warmth for growing winter-hardy crops in a shelter.
Consider these additional tips when learning how to grow veggies in the winter:
- Plant directly in the ground. The soil in containers and raised beds will freeze quicker.
- Mulch heavily to retain moisture and warmth.
- Keep soil moist. Water has insulating properties which help prevent plants from freezing.
- Use bricks, concrete pads or water barrels to absorb heat from the sun and release it at night.
Which Vegetables Will Grow in Snow-Prone Areas
Which structure you choose to protect your winter vegetable garden will have a bearing on what you can successfully grow. Low tunnels work best with crops like potatoes. These crops are planted in the fall, left to grow over the winter and harvested in the spring. Accessing low tunnels on cold winter days to harvest veggies will release retained heat.
Hotbeds utilize the same technique as cold-frame gardening, except a heat source is incorporated under the soil. Hotbeds can be used to start warm-weather plants in early spring and for growing fast-maturing veggies, like lettuce and radishes, during the winter.
By now, you may be wondering if warm-weather crops like tomatoes and peppers can be grown in a protected winter vegetable garden. The short answer is no. Without an additional source of heat and light, these types of veggies won’t bloom and bear fruit during the winter.
Here is a list of veggies which can be grown in protected shelters when the snow is flying: