How to Grow Winter Vegetables


Winter vegetables, sometimes called cool season vegetables, include the cabbage family, root vegetables, peas, lettuces and leafy greens. Root vegetables and cabbages store well through the winter and provide fresh vegetables for the table even when the weather is freezing outside.The most common root vegetables are carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips and potatoes. In areas where it's too cold to grow veggies outside, many can be grown successfully inside.

Grow Vegetables Inside

Step 1

Plant lettuces and leafy greens seeds in pots 4 inches wide and deep. Plant 10 to 20 seeds in each pot. Cover with 1/4 inch of soil, and water until water runs out the bottom of the pot. Cover the pots with plastic wrap.

Step 2

Place the pots near a window that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Remove the plastic wrap when the seeds have sprouted. Keep moist but not soggy. Fertilize with half-strength water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks. Harvest when leaves are 3 to 4 inches long by snipping off with scissors.

Step 3

Start tomatoes the same way, with three seeds per pot. Keep soil moist but not soggy. Fertilize with half-strength water-oluble fertilizer every two weeks. Thin to one tomato plant per pot when seedlings are 4 inches high. Transplant to gallon containers when seedlings are 12 inches high.

Step 4

Pollinate tomato flowers the first day they appear by brushing each flower with a soft brush; a clean makeup brush works well.

Step 5

Soak cucumber seeds overnight in warm water and then plant two seeds in a gallon container. Cover with plastic wrap until sprouted. Pollinate flowers as you did the tomatoes. Cucumbers may be harvested beginning when they're 2 to 3 inches long.

Grow Winter Vegetables Outside

Step 1

Place an unopened bag of potting soil in an area sheltered from wind, preferably by a building or wall that receives southern or western exposure. The wall will retain heat and keep the soil in the bag warmer. The bag must be located where it will get at least six hours of sunlight.

Step 2

Poke drainage holes on one side of the bag. Turn it over and cut out 3-inch-diameter circles spaced 12 inches apart on the other side. Water each hole until the soil in the bag is drenched.

Step 3

Place a black plastic garbage bag over the bag of soil, and tuck the edges under the bag. Don't block the drainage holes. Cut X's in the garbage bag over each hole. Slip a plant inside the X into the bag of soil. Cabbages, head lettuces and spinach work well. Broccoli gets too tall. If plants aren't available, start seeds inside, as in the first section.

Step 4

Root vegetables started in early fall will often grow through winter in the garden and will weather light frosts but not hard freezes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Protect veggies growing outside during frosts. If your area gets hard freezes, your only choice is to grow veggies inside.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Pots
  • Veggie seeds or plants
  • Plastic wrap
  • Brush
  • Black garbage bags


  • "The Desert Gardener's Calendar"; George Brookbank; 1999
  • "The Country Garden"; Charlie Ryrie; 2003

Who Can Help

  • Natural Hub: Vegetable Gardening in Winter
Keywords: cool season veggies, grow winter veggies, winter garden

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.