If you live in a hardiness zone of 9, 10, 11, or 12 there is a great chance you are able to grow vegetables throughout the winter season. There are several vegetables that can tolerate frost including varieties of beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, lettuce, onions, parsley, and spinach. While it is better to start many of these earlier, it isn’t too late to get your winter garden going.
The first and most important step is to prepare your planting area. Be sure to amend your soil with fertilizer material and organic matter. This will help your soil to start with the necessary nutrients, water drainage, and looseness for a good crop.
To help prevent frost damage you can also utilize row covers or cold frames to provide an extra layer of protection and a season extension. Row covers are really easy to use. It is simply a layer of plastic that is supported above your plants. This layer acts like a greenhouse to maintain warmer temperatures during those pesky frost events. A few degrees can make all the difference in your plants surviving or not.
If you choose to use this method make sure your protective structure has a method for ventilation. While temperatures can dip down in zones 9-12, they can also be quite warm. Ventilating can be as easy as rolling up the ends of the plastic or opening a door or window. You just don’t want your plants to overheat and wilt.
For those of you on the warmer end of this zone range, the winter season is the perfect time to enjoy your fall plantings and perform regular maintenance on your plants. Adding a thick layer of mulch can help your soil stay warmer. This is one of the best practices to also encourage a healthy environment for microorganisms.
As your plants mature be sure to use the cut and come again method for applicable plants to get the most out of your harvest. A great option for your winter or cold frame gardens is to plant that which can be added to a salad. These plants typically are some of the best in cooler temperatures. And, they often have short growing periods or can cut and come again. Just because it is the winter season doesn’t mean you can’t keep on gardening.