How to Grow Vegetables for the Winter


Before refrigeration or modern transportation was available, families grew the vegetables they needed to get through the winters. They preserved vegetables through pickling, canning or drying. They grew many that could be stored in a cool, dark, dry place without spoiling or rotting. The root cellar, as it was called, often contained potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables, and cabbages.


Step 1

Dig a hole 12 inches deep. Add a 6-inch layer of compost to the bottom of the hole covered by 2 inches of soil.

Step 2

Place a seed potato in the hole and cover with 2 inches of soil. Potatoes are not a root crop, but a tuber. The potato tubers form on the stem area that is under the ground but above the root system. When the potato plants are 6 inches high, fill in the hole.

Step 3

Mound up the soil around the plant as it grows. The soil won't smother the plant as long as there is still a good amount of plant 6 inches or so above ground. Potatoes will grow in the mound. When the mound is 12 inches high, discontinue mounding.

Step 4

Harvest potatoes after the plant has blossomed and the leaves are starting to yellow. Baby potatoes may be harvested earlier.

Root Vegetables

Step 1

Dig the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Plant at consecutive 30-day intervals for root vegetables all summer long and for a fall crop to be stored over winter.

Step 2

Broadcast carrot seeds in a band, rather than planting each seed individually. Thin to 2 inches apart. The baby carrots may be eaten in salads or cooked if large enough.

Step 3

Plant beet seeds 1/2 inch apart. Each seed ball is actually a cluster of seeds that will sprout. Thin to 1 inch apart. Continue thinning as the beets get larger. Some varieties grow up to 3 inches in diameter. Seedlings that you have thinned out, including the leaves, may be eaten.

Step 4

Plant rutabaga, turnips and parsnips per package directions.

Step 5

Plant onion sets, small baby onions, an inch apart. Broadcast onion seeds as you did for carrot seeds. Thin to an inch apart and then eventually to 3 inches apart.


Step 1

Plant cabbage in early spring. It's a cool season crop which takes 100 days to reach full size. Depending on the variety, cabbages grow to be from 5 to 20 lbs at harvest.

Step 2

Plant 18 to 24 inches apart.

Step 3

Harvest smaller heads early in the season. Leave larger heads for harvesting in the fall.

Tips and Warnings

  • Harvest before the first frost in fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Soil amendments
  • Seed potatoes
  • Carrot, root vegetables, cabbage seeds
  • Onion sets or seeds


  • "The Country Garden"; Charlie Ryrie; 2003
  • "Burpee Complete Gardener"; Allan Armitage et al.; 1995
Keywords: vegetables for winter, root vegetables, planting vegetables

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.