Many vegetables are commonly planted in the spring and summer months, ready for harvest in late summer or early fall. A number of vegetables, however, fare much better if planted when the air is cool and crisp and there are fewer insects and diseases to contend with. Many cold-hardy vegetables provide the makings of holiday meals and comforting soups on cold winter nights.
Savoyed spinach has dark green leaves with crinkles and they become crisp in colder weather. Smooth leafed spinach is a lighter green in color, with leaves that grow upright. You can harvest the baby greens of this type, or you can wait until the plant matures. Plant spinach in later winter, about six weeks before the last spring frost date. Start inside or under a protective frame. If you sow winter spinach, you must cover the seedlings from the cold with plastic or a thick row cover. Plant seedlings about 2 inches deep. For harvesting, pinch off leaves as you need them, but leave the central leaves intact.
Cauliflower requires two months of cool weather to reach harvest. When protected from frost, it is a very good choice for late autumn and early spring gardens. These plants prefer full sun, but will also do well in light shade.
Cabbage requires 70 to 120 days to reach harvest. It favors temperatures between 25 degrees F. and 80 degrees F. It is frost hardy, and can do well in temperatures as low as 20 degrees F. Plant cabbage by choosing the season in your region where the cabbage will be ready to harvest in cool weather. Cabbage that is planted in mid-winter can be grown under a frame and prepared for an early spring harvest.
Snow peas are a cool weather vegetable that grows through winter in subtropical and mild climates. In cooler climates, they can be grown later. The prefer sunny to partial shade, and well limed, free draining soil. They draw nitrogen in from the air, so there is no need to add much nitrogen to the soil. Growing snow peas from seed seems to produce the best results, and it isn't uncommon for them to sprout in as little as six days. You can provide support for your snow peas by sowing the seed next to a trellis or fence. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as these plants are prone to powdery mildew. Harvest your crop in about eight weeks by cutting them off with scissors or a knife. For best flavor, pick snow peas before they mature.