WHEN choosing plants for winter gardens, consider plants that bolt quickly in the heat of spring, such as lettuce and spinach. Another tip to keep in mind is that plants with short growing seasons, such as chives and radish, will also grow well in the fall. These plants thrive in cooler temperatures and do not need long periods of bright sunlight to mature.
Plants for the winter garden:
- Culinary Herb: parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, chives
Mints: peppermint, spearmint
Leafy greens: lettuce, spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard
Roots: carrots, onion, leeks, parsnips, beets, turnips
Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
Maximize Timing – know first frost dates
Plant your winter crops early enough to allow them to reach full maturity before the first killing frost arrives, usually late December for southern Mississippi, early October for northern gardens. If frost arrives sooner than expected, mulch the plants heavily and cover them with a soft sheet or Visqueen to protect them from the cold or create a cold frame. Old Farmers Almanac cold frame directions here.
Days to Maturity
- 30 days: lettuce, chives, spinach, radishes
60 days: turnips, leeks, cabbage, Swiss chard and collard greens
90 days: carrots, beets, Brussels sprouts, parsnips
To extend your growing season, use succession planting every two weeks especially on the quickest growing vegetables.