There are quite a few vegetables that do well in colder weather that you can grow in the fall to ensure a harvest in your garden. So if you enjoy tending (and eating) your homegrown crops, you don’t have to give them up during the cooler months. Some of the best winter vegetables are not only tasty, but also beautiful. Learn more about what winter vegetables can be grown in a raised bed, as well as some tips on how to keep your winter garden happy and healthy.
Table of Contents
- Why is raised bed winter planting a good idea?
- When you should grow winter vegetables in a raised bed
- Growing winter vegetables in a raised bed: What can you plant?
Why is raised bed winter planting a good idea?
Raised beds can help extend the growing season. The soil in a raised bed is warmer, especially if you use old car tires to build your raised bed. The black tires absorb the sun’s heat, so the vegetables can survive longer in the winter and you can start growing them earlier in the spring. It’s important to note that some people don’t use tires to grow vegetables because they fear chemicals getting into the soil.
In some parts of the continent, wet weather can severely hinder plant growth, as can low temperatures. Raised beds elevate garden soil above wet soil and provide the best possible drainage.
When to grow winter vegetables in raised beds
Timing is critical when planning your winter vegetable garden. It’s important to know the frost forecast for your location. Knowing when to expect the first, hard frost will help you determine how long it will take for your chosen vegetables to ripen. You can usually find this information on the back of your seed packaging. If you buy seedlings, look for a label that indicates the days to maturity for that variety.
If your chosen vegetable variety takes 90 days to reach maturity, simply calculate the date that is 90 days before the first, hard frost at your location. This period may be extended a bit if you live in a warmer microclimate or if you protect your vegetable garden with season extenders.
Grow winter vegetables in a raised bed: What can you plant?
Kale – popular winter vegetable in the raised bed.
Kale is one of the easiest plants to grow, and cold weather only sweetens its flavor. For a winter crop, plant a generous amount in slightly alkaline soil starting in mid-May. Kale usually survives frost, but you can protect the leaves from heavy snowfall if you want to avoid breakage.
Frost-resistant Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are frost resistant: Many varieties taste even better after surviving colder conditions. It is recommended to sow the seeds from early March to early April, under plastic sheeting or fleece, or in a cold frame. They can then be planted in mid-May to early June in a sunny location with nutrient-rich, moist soil.
Delicious Asian lettuce and its varieties
This leaf lettuce is another plant on the list of the best vegetables for winter growing. In the seed catalogs gardeners can find so many great varieties of Asian lettuce. You can grow different varieties in spring, summer, fall and winter, but the best varieties for the cold season are Mizuna and Green in Snow. They grow very quickly and offer a variety of leaf textures, colors and flavors. You can direct seed them in early September or grow the seedlings indoors under grow lights before moving them to garden beds in mid-September.
Planting lamb’s lettuce
Lamb’s lettuce is one of the best vegetables for winter growing. The plants form leaf clusters 5 to 10 inches in diameter that are harvested whole by cutting the stem at ground level. After a quick rinse, the rosettes are doused with a simple dressing and enjoyed as a salad. Some varieties are direct seeded in late summer.
Spinach is hardy and healthy
Spinach is one of our extremely hardy plants that thrives in all climates. Ideally, you should sow in early fall and harvest throughout the winter. If you’re lucky, your harvest will last into next summer.
Pro tip: Remove the flowers regularly to prevent your spinach from going to seed.
Carrots for (almost) all dishes
As with kale, beets, leeks and many other plants, their flavor improves after a few frosts in late fall. Sow winter carrot seeds from late July to early August and mulch the bed deeply with chopped leaves or straw in late November or early December. This insulating layer should be covered to keep in place. When ready to harvest, pull back the fabric and mulch and dig up as many carrots as you need. Among the best varieties for winter harvesting are ‘Napoli’ and ‘Gonsenheimer Treib’.
Winter planting with onions
Onions are another plant that overwinter well – provided you choose overwintering varieties. As the days get longer, their growth begins in late winter, so they can be harvested in late spring. Plant seedlings in the garden by the end of August and protect them with straw mulch when temperatures get very low.
Garlic as a winter vegetable in a raised bed
Garlic is one of the easiest plants to grow and is usually planted in mid to late fall and harvested in mid-summer. Plant it with plenty of compost and add mulch for weed and weather protection.