Although some gardeners pack up the gardening tools at the end of the summer, it is possible to extend the growing year by planting for the winter. Certain varieties of vegetables are cold hardy and will survive the winter, while planting some varieties in the early winter ensures their growth in the spring.
Choosing cold-hardy vegetables allows you to plant up to six weeks before the last killing frost of the winter for a spring harvest, while some warm-season vegetables allow you to plant in the fall and harvest before the first killing frost. Certain vegetable varieties are possible to plant in the late fall for an early spring germination. Cool-season vegetables include lettuce, peas, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, radishes and cauliflower. Tomato, squash and pumpkin will all develop in the early spring when left in the soil over the winter, according to the Colorado State University Extension.
Cool-season vegetables that are planted too late in the spring often develop problems, reports the Colorado State University Extension. Powdery mildew often attacks peas in warmer weather when planted too late. Planting in the fall before the ground freezes makes cool-season vegetables develop in the spring as soon as the air and soil reach the correct temperature. Warm-season vegetables planted late in the summer or early fall for a winter harvest will die if planted too early or late.
Preparing the soil requires removing all old plant debris from the soil. The soil requires an application of nutrients to revive the worn-out soil. Oregon State University suggests applying a light layer of compost, aged manure or the application of a complete garden fertilizer. When planting, it is essential to have an idea when the first killing frost will be.
It is also possible to plant vegetables indoors in containers to have a winter harvest. Most vegetable varieties will grow indoors, says the Arizona University Cooperative Extension. Varieties require selection according to the amount of sunlight you receive in your home. Shade-tolerant plants are best for homes with small windows, or no windows facing south. Containers require good drainage at the bottom. Vegetables are best sown according to the instructions on the packaging, or in the same manner they are planted outdoors.
When an early frost arrives, certain crop-saving precautions are required. If the temperature is not expected to fall below 30 degrees F, crops require covering with baskets, burlap bags, blankets or buckets to retain heat. Some vegetables, however, are very cold hardy and will survive weather below 30 degrees. Brussels sprouts, leeks, beets, turnips, scallions, parsley, cilantro and spinach will resist damage from cold weather conditions.