5 Winter Fruits and Vegetables to Grow and Eat This Season

5 Winter Fruits and Vegetables to Grow and Eat This Season

Bring the winter garden to your table with this selection of delectable produce.


By: Jen Jones Donatelli

Although it may seem like a tall task, cold-weather crops can be a great way to nurture your burgeoning green thumb.

“If you want easy gardening, try a winter garden — there are no weeds, insect pests or diseases,” says Kentucky-based master gardener Cathy Rehmeyer, who has a Ph.D. in plant pathology.

Find out which fruits and veggies can help create a winter wonderland in your kitchen — and keep your family eating right year round.

Master Plan
Savvy winter gardening is all about proper planning, since plant growth substantially slows down in chilly weather.

“Plant in fall so that crops have time to mature just before serious weather arrives, then protect plants under a fabric cover, cold frame or low tunnels,” says Rehmeyer, adding that she refers to these handy structures as “living refrigerators.”

1. Carrots
When temperatures drop, carrots are a great go-to crop.

“Carrots and other root crops, like beets and rutabaga, are far sweeter when harvested during cold weather,” says Rehmeyer. “The difference is so profound [that] I don't bother growing most carrot varieties in summer.”

For best results, keep the soil consistently moist during the first few weeks of germination and use a raised bed to ensure that soil will be loose, deep and rock-free.

2. Winter Fresh
Is citrus your main squeeze? Good news: Limes, lemons and other fruits can be grown and harvested in the winter in the milder southern regions of the country, says Cheryl Long of Topeka, Kansas, and editor-in-chief of "Mother Earth News."

Northerners can get in on the growing action, too: "Dwarf citrus will do well in pots even in the north if you can keep them indoors in a very bright, cool room," Long says.

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3. Crowning Glory
Kids might be more amenable to the famous phrase “Eat your broccoli” if the veggie is grown fresh and tasty in their own backyard. This hearty green grows best in fall and early winter, Rehmeyer says.

“It is more susceptible to bolting [forming flowers instead of crowns] and insects when spring-planted,” she explains. “Also, whereas spring-planted broccoli might produce one crown, fall-plantings will also produce successions of side shoots that can be continuously harvested.”

4. Berry Good
Although fruit can be notoriously hard to grow during the winter in many regions, raspberries are one of the vibrant exceptions.

“Raspberries are beautiful in the winter landscape, as many have brilliant blue or purple colors along the full length of the canes,” Rehmeyer says.

Since many ever-bearing varieties are available, you can harvest them from June through fall. For best results, grow raspberries on a T-bar trellis and mulch in order to keep their shallow roots moist, adds Rehmeyer.

5. Go Green
Popeye would be proud that spinach is a very “cold-hardy” plant, Long says. Although “The New York Times” once referred to spinach as the “homework of vegetables,” there are lots of fun ways to serve it to your family — from pasta dishes to burgers and dips.

“It can be great fun during the … holidays to serve your guests a super-fresh spinach salad from your garden,” says Long.

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