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12 Vegetables To Plant This Winter

1) Beets 


The best way to grow beets is to directly sown them into your raised garden bed.  Although transplants can be done, it can also be very challenging due to the very rapid formation of the root system of this particular plant. If you can, do a number of plantings so that you will have some diversity in size and flavors.  Your pH is very important when planting beets.  Try to keep the pH between 6.0 & 7.5, never letting it drop below 6.0, otherwise you will end up with small stunted beets!  In addition, beets love a soil rich and deep in organic material.


2) Broccoli 


Cool weather and full sun (at least 6 hrs.) and a good rich soil are the best combinations for growing broccoli along with a well- drained soil along with a pH between 6.0 & 7.0 to help reduce the clubfoot disease.  Broccoli likes regular watering in order for it to grow to its maximum potential.  Use a good quality compost several inches deep to help keep the weeds at bay.  If you have a nutrient poor soil, use a Fish Emulsion to help your plants get their nutrients.  Continue your liquid feeding until the heads are almost ready to harvest.  Space your plants about 18 inches apart.  The ideal growing temperature for broccoli is around 65 degrees F.  To avoid pest problems, be sure to keep your garden clean and free of plant debris.     


3) Cabbages 



When planting your cabbage, be sure to check the pH of your soil.  You will want to adjust the pH to be between 6.5 & 6.8 for best results.  As with most garden plantings, you will want to have a rich but well-drained soil.  In the cooler climates, you will want to get your cabbages in the ground before the first frost.  Cabbage is very easy to transplant from your starter seedlings to your garden.  Be sure to set your plants so that 1-2 inches of the main stem remains buried. Space your plants about 12-24 inches apart in a row if possible.  Some cabbages such as the Bonnie Mega-Cabbage need all the space you can allow it!!  Regular watering is also the key to a successful harvest. Use good quality mulch comprised of finely ground leaves or bark to help keep your soil cool and moist.  If you use about 2-3 inches of the mulch, this will also help to keep the weeds down.  Use a fish emulsion or a 20-20-20 fertilizer after your plant develops new leaves and when the heads of the cabbage start to form.


4 & 5) Carrots and Radishes



This is a great combination of plants to put together!  As soon as your temperatures are in the 50-55 degree F range, get your planting area ready.  This is a seed only crop and can be started when your weather cools down. In those areas that have a much colder climate, this batch can be planted in the spring just before the last scheduled frost.  This pair needs a soil with good drainage and at least six hours of full sun every day with a  soil pH between 6 & 6.8.  For those that have a more clay soil, you will need to amend it as these crops will drown and rot in standing water.    If your gardening space is a bit tight, you can plant you carrot and radishes among your taller vegetables to maximize your use of available space.


When preparing your soil, be sure to dig down about 8-10 inches and remove any old roots, weeds or rocks.  Any soil that is compacted or has rocks in it will stunt and retard the growth of your radish or carrot.  Plant your carrots and radishes in organic compost that is 4-5 inches deep.  You will want the soil to be sort of crumbly to the touch.  Be sure that the soil is loose but will retain a good amount of moisture.  Damp but well drained is the mantra here. 


Plant your radish seeds about every inch in a row if possible placing them about 1/2 inch deep. Try to keep 12-24 inches between each row if possible.  Your typical maturity stage will be about 22-30 days.  Your carrots will take longer. 


Plant your carrot seeds every inch and about ¼ inch deep in a row.  Carrot seeds are very small so, be patient!  Place about 2 inches of a light airy mulch over the newly planted seeds and water them in.  Be sure to maintain a regular watering in the dryer areas that do not get additional moisture from regular rain.  You will need to have at least 2 inches of water or more to keep your soil damp. Remember that dry conditions will stunt the growth of your carrots and radishes. 


Since it will take longer for your carrot seeds to germinate, the radishes will loosen up the soil for the carrots.  Thin your carrots out to about one every ½ inch and then pinch off the rest to thin them out rather than pulling out the smaller plants and risk damaging the roots of the other keepers. It can take up to 15 days for your carrot to germinate and between 55-75 days to reach maturity, depending on the variety.  Check the back of your seed package for additional information.



6 & 7) Kale & Chard



Both of these often over looked plants can be grown in similar conditions of sun to part shade.  Kale and chard are also a great substitute for those bored with just having spinach all the time too!  A great additive to soups and other meals, both of these nutritionally packed greens are grown from seed and take about 8 weeks to fully mature. Both can be grown in pots or in a tradition row garden with 6 hours of direct sunlight. 


Standard well drained potting soil works well if planted in a pot and a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 is best for Kale and 6.0 to 6.4 for Chard.  Keep soil moist and cool by using 1-2 inches of straw, pine needles or a finely ground bark.  Be sure to water regularly in those areas that do not receive regular rain.


Plant your seeds ½ to ¾ inches deep about 2-4 inches apart.  It is much better to cut the plants when thinning rather than pulling them out to avoid disturbing the root system.  When these greens start to grow, you will want to thin them out to about 4-8 inches apart. Once the plants mature, you will want to harvest from them regularly to keep them rejuvenating.  Fertilize with a light liquid fertilizer like an 8-4-4.



8) Lettuce


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This is an easy to grow fall crop that you can grow from seed or from small live plants.  Lettuce does prefer a full sun exposure but you can still get a good crop if you only get morning sun during the fall.  For springtime planting, afternoon shade is actually preferred because it will help your lettuce last longer as the season warms up. 


A good growing temperature for lettuce is about 45 F for a low temp and no higher than 85 F for the upper end.


A fertile and well-drained soil is a must with lots of organic material.  Be sure to have a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 for best results.  Do a soil test to be sure if you have any doubts.


Leaf lettuce needs nitrogen to grow tender leaves so be sure to add a nitrogen rich amendment such as blood meal or a good quality well composted manure.  Be sure to fertilize often with a good liquid fertilizer. 




For your fall planting you will want to begin about 4-8 weeks before your first frost.  You can use a row cover to help protect you plants if needed.



When planning on your spacing for lettuce, you will want to leave about 6-18 inches between each plant depending on the type of lettuce.  Be sure to check the tag or seed pack for correct spacing requirements.  You can plant your lettuce closer together than what is recommended as long as you plan on doing a continual harvest throughout the growing season. 


To maximize the taste of your tender lettuce leaves, be sure to water regularly during dry weather.  Keeping  good quality mulch around your plants will also help to retain moisture and help to retard those hungry and invasive weeds!!


Be aware of lettuce pests such as aphids who love to munch on the young and tender lettuce leaves.  The will be hiding on the underside of the lettuce leaves and down in the crown of the plant as well. Regular use of an Insecticidal Soap will help to keep these guys in check.  






9) Leeks




A great and delicious close relative of the onion, the toned down leeks still have add a tasty flavor to many dishes.  Leeks do not produce a bulb however, but instead look much like a scallion on steroids!!  This leafy upright growing onion cousin does not need much room to grow and will thrive in the cooler weather even with a light frost.  If you have ever seen leeks at the market, you will have noticed that they are a bit pricey.  It is easy to get around this by just simply growing your own leeks in the garden. 


Leeks gathered their earlier reputation from leek and potato soup but they are also very tasty when steamed like asparagus, roasted in the oven or chopped up and put into your favorite dish. 


If you live in the northern states, you may have to wait until spring to plant your leaks due to the heavy freeze your area has in the winter but for those areas in zone 7 or higher, a winter planting will work just fine.

Leeks do require a full sun exposure and will need lots of nitrogen along with regular moisture o thrive so be sure to add fresh compost to your leek planting area.    When planting your leeks, it is important to note that your initial planting will be done very deep so that the white part of the stem does not receive any sun.



10) Mustard Greens     




At first glance, mustard greens may look a lot like bib lettuce in that they are a leafy vegetable that grows well in the cooler weather of fall.  The actual cousins of mustard greens are kale and collards.  Being able to tolerate a light frost is beneficial because it is exactly this type of exposure that makes the leaves of the mustard green much sweeter.  As long as there are no killer freezes in your area, you could enjoy this tasty plant all winter long. 


Mustard greens will grow to be about 12-18 inches tall and can be a very attractive addition to your flower addition.  The leaves of the mustard green will grow in a rosette form and will have a delicious peppery taste.  This winter plant can be simmered or steamed for the bigger leaves and the smaller ones can even be included freshly picked in a raw salad. 


This can be a fast growing plant when place in the right conditions.  Full sun is ideal since the leaves are the mainstay of the mustard green plant but it will tolerate some shade in the afternoon or morning.  To achieve the best results for your mustard green plant, be sure to amend you soil with a nutrient rich compost by placing  3-6 inches of compost over the ground where your mustard greens are going to be planted.  Mix the compost into the ground using a garden fork for best results.



For a fall harvest, set your mustard green plants in the ground 4-6 weeks before your first frost and then continue to plant more as the weather will allow you.  Your mustard plant will grow fast and should have leaves 6-8 inches long in about 4 weeks.  If you want bigger leaves then wait about two weeks longer to achieve leaves that are 15-18 inches long. 


You will want to space your mustard green plants about 12 inches apart by the time they reach 3-6 inches in height.  Be careful when separating your plants so that you do not damage the root systems. Be gentle when pulling the young plants apart.



11) Peas




Of all the fresh out of the garden vegetables, I think that snap peas are one of my many favorites!!  There are a number of great tasting varieties such as the traditional English peas with the round green peas inside the pod. This one needs to have the peas shelled first then the pod is simply thrown away.  The Chinese snow pea is a delight in Chinese cuisines and is eaten whole, pod and all.  The peas inside are not very large and as a result the pod is crisp and tasty.


Snap style green peas combine the sweet delicious contents of the English pea with the crispy outer shell of the Chinese snow pea and are usually harvested when they are very young and as a result you can eat the whole thing, pod and all.


As long as the Snap pea is harvested while it is young it can be used just like the snow pea.  If you let the pod fill out they can be used like he English pea but the pod of the Snap pea will not be edible. 


The younger peas can handle a light frost so be sure to place your snap peas well before the last average frost date for your area.  Be prepared to cover your snap peas with a cloth covering to protect them against a heavier frost.  Your snap peas will thrive in the cool weather of the fall and will do best and will be easier to pick when placed on a trellis or a netting stake where the vines can grow upright.   Use chicken wire to give the curling tendrils of the snap peas something to grasp onto as they grow.  


Your snap peas can be planted in a container or in the ground.  If planting in the ground be sure to place them about 5 inches apart and water them regularly especially in the areas that do not rece0eve much rain.  Keep your soil damp but not wet. 


Peas do not need very much nitrogen fertilizer unless you have a very poor soil.  If you have already amended your soil, great!  Just do not much more during the growing season of your snap peas.  As a member of the legume family, peas actually get their own nitrogen from the air around them.  This nitrogen fixing is down through the rhizobium bactria which is probably naturally occuring in your soil.


Peas have a rather shallow root system but deep watering spaced apart can encourage the roots to rech deeper in the soil.  Peas will need regular moisture as soon as the first flower appears and then all the way to the harvest to ensure a good crop.


Always water in the early moring hours so that the leaves have a chance to dry befor the sun sets.  This will help to reduce deseases such as powdery mildew.  


When harvesting your snap peas, only harvest as much as you will used at that meal.  For the best flavor, cook or freeze your snap peas within a few hours of harvest to preserve the sweetness, otherwise the sugar turns to starch dramatically reducing the sweetness of the pea. 



12) Potatoes






This cool season crop does best in a loose and well-drained soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.5.  If you have a hard and compacted soil, you will do beast to amend you soil before planting with good quality organic compost.  Potatoes form tubers about 4-6 inches under the ground. 


When the above ground plant reaches about 8 inches tall, pull the soil up around the plant, enough to cover the lower part of the stem. About 2 weeks later, repeat this same process.  Potatoes that are exposed to the sun will turn green and give the potato a bitter taste!!  By keeping the tubers covered, you will prevent the potatoes from turning green and having that bitter taste. 


Your potatoes will form when your temperature is between 60 F and 70 F.  If it gets up to 80 F, the formation of the tuber will come to a halt.  Try to keep the soil temperature about 10 F cooler than the air temperature and irrigate regularly. Potatoes are very sensitive to drought.  Keep you plant consistently moist, especially after it flowers.  This is the peak time for the formation of the tubers. 


Vegetables such as onions and a variety of lettuce, radishes and carrots can be planted outside as long as you don’t have a hard freeze. Beets can be a tasty fall harvest and will store well over the winter or they can be used fresh out of the garden.  Do not forget about kale, cabbages, collards, mustard greens, potatoes, spinach, leeks and peas as well.  Just because the usual growing season has passed does not mean that you have to stop growing your vegetables.  If you are planning on growing your cold weather crop outside, be sure that you are prepared for the occasional frost.  Using an old flannel sheet and draping it over your newly planted herbs and veggies will help top protect them from the damaging chill of a night time freeze.







If you are in a planting zone that gets a hard freeze and regular freezing temperatures, you will need to improvise your planting technique to have a successful winter garden inside.  Light and heat will be one of your key elements.  The more natural light or naturally simulated light you can provide, the more success you will achieve.





Do not be afraid to try this project.  It may only need some trial and error on your part to have a successful planting.  Remember that the rewards will be delicious!!


Please share your adventures in planting with us and remember to include pictures of your project.





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Posted 2014-10-31T17:44:19+0000  by Rick_HD_OC Rick_HD_OC