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How to Grow Vegetables in the Winter Without a Greenhouse

Are you looking for ways to keep your green thumb happy during the cold winter months? If you want to grow plants in winter, you have a few different options if you don’t want to construct a greenhouse.

Certain plants do better outside with proper protection than others, but you can’t plant everything outside. And what can’t go out can be grown indoors as long as you have enough sunlight.

Keep reading to learn how to keep your vegetable garden going all year round without investing in costly greenhouse setups.

Step #1: Decide What You Want to Plant and Where You’ll Plant It

Vegetables That You Can Grow Outside in the Winter

Vegetable Plant #1: Spinach

Spinach does exceptionally well in cold weather. It also tolerates temperatures as low as 20 degrees. 

Late season spinach seedlings can be mulched heavily for the winter. When temperatures reach freezing, you will have a beautiful spring crop.

Vegetable Plant #2: Carrots

Carrots are hardy vegetables that can survive temperatures as low as 20˚F before dying. However, cold weather will kill the tops of your carrots.

You can save the roots if you plant them with mulch and a generous layer of insulating material. Upon thawing out, carrots will continue to grow between freezes.

Vegetable Plant #3: Kale

Kale is another hardy vegetable that can endure freezing temperatures. And as a bonus, kale becomes sweeter after a frost.

Kale is great at resisting the cold. And it’s also known to have minimal insect problems.

Vegetable Plant #4: Mache

Mache is known to tolerate extreme cold if it’s well-rooted. Mache needs planting during full sun, in well-drained, fertile soil.

Seeds will germinate if the ground is at least 50°F. It’s a reasonably slow-growing vegetable, and these tender greens are easy to grow throughout the winter.

Vegetable Plant #5: Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is also remarkably cold-tolerant, surviving dips to 15 °F without protection. You can protect swiss chard in a cold frame or low tunnel for winter harvests.

We recommend that you harvest all the leaves and cover the remaining chard crown with a thick mulch layer.

Vegetable Plant #6: Claytonia

Claytonia is easy to grow.  It’s a very hardy, cool-season salad green. Claytonia also is referred to as miner’s lettuce. 

Claytonia retains its flavor after flowering but will turn bitter tasting in hot weather. A very hard frost can kill this plant in colder planting zones because it can grow during the winter months. And, a plus, damage from pests is minimal.

Vegetable Plant #7: Parsley

Parsley, in cold weather conditions, doesn’t do that well. With that said, protecting the parsley plants allows you to overwinter it.

You can cut the parsley back in the early fall and apply about 2-3 inches of mulch. The mulch will keep the ground from freezing and thawing in the winter — making it less likely that the roots will become damaged.

Vegetables That You Can Grow Indoors All Year Round

Vegetable Plant #1: Spinach

When outside, spinach does best in partial shade. You can duplicate this indoors by growing your spinach near a window —  somewhere, it will get 3-4 hours of sunlight.

And make sure to select a cool spot since spinach tends to bolt in the heat. Gather the outer leaves to help the spinach produce new leaves. You can also grow spinach successfully under grow lights.

Vegetable Plant #2: Lettuce

You can grow a diversity of lettuce indoors. Lettuce needs no more than 3-4 hours of patchy sunshine through a sunny window.

The loose-leaf varieties of lettuce are ideal for indoors as you can gather the outer leaves for a long and continuous harvest. Lettuces adjust very well to growing exclusively under artificial lights.

Vegetable Plant #3: Swiss Chard

Swiss Chards are colorful plants that would make a cheerful addition to your home’s ambiance. But keep in mind that they need 4-5 hours of sun to produce long stalks in rainbow colors.

Indoor chard plants are much smaller, and you can harvest the leaves all winter long.

Vegetable Plant #4: Arugula

Arugula is a high yield plant even when grown indoors. The large rosette resembles a dandelion.

And it gives a continuous supply of leaves — the more you cut, the more it grows. Arugula is a cool-season plant that tends to bolt earlier if grown in a warm spot.

Vegetable Plant #5: Mushrooms

Mushrooms can be grown all year indoors. And it’s a fun activity when outside gardening comes to a halt in the chilly weather.

Growing button-mushrooms or oyster-mushrooms from ready-made kits are especially easy. All that you need to do is water them as instructed and keep it in a cool, dark place to grow. You can reap several harvests from the same bed.

Vegetable Plant #6: Potatoes

To grow potatoes indoors, you will need large plastic bags. Fill the large plastic bags with premium potting mix and plant the potatoes.

Potato plants need about 5-6 hours of sunlight to give you a good yield. You can check for baby spuds and use them in your cooking instead of waiting for the tubers to mature.

Step #2: Set Up Your Flower Beds and Indoor Pots

Growing Outdoors

When growing outdoors during winter months, you’ll need to provide some protection for your plants, so they don’t end up wimpy with poor-producing fruit.

One of the most cost-effective ways to protect your plants is with DIY covers made using plastic, tarp, or greenhouse material. Watch the video below for a demonstration.

Growing Indoors

You can grow vegetables in winter in one of two ways:

Even if you have windows that get plenty of sunlight, you may still need some grow lights during the winter — sun-loving plants won’t get enough sunlight.

What type of grow lights you might need depends on where you plan to grow your plants and how far away the light source needs to be.

Step #3: Get Growing

Once you’ve set up your flower beds and indoor pots, you’re ready to add soil and plant your seeds or baby plants.

When growing outside, a mix of native dirt from your yard and organic compost helps give your plants the necessary nutrients. For your pots, you’ll need to use a well-draining potting soil and fertilize often.

Every time you water your potted plants, the nutrients drain out with the excess water. Fertilizer helps add lost nutrients back into the soil for the plants to take up.

Follow the instructions on the seed packets when growing seeds. It’ll tell you if you need to germinate them first (soak in water), and how deep and far apart to plant them.

When planting baby plants, make sure you bury them deep enough to cover the plants’ entire root system.

Once you’ve got your seeds or plants in the soil, water them!

Step #4: Harvest Your Fresh Vegetables

Allow your plants some time to grow, and you should start seeing the first sprouts appear within a few weeks — depending on what vegetables you’re growing.

Seed packets include the information about when to expect sprouts, but you can check the Farmer’s Almanac for baby plants’ details.

Their website is an excellent resource for when to plant and harvest your vegetables. They even give detailed instructions on how to collect your vegetables.

Keep Your Plants Healthy and Happy With Our Custom Planting Mix

Whether you’re growing indoors or outside during the winter months, you’ll need a high-quality, nutrient-rich planting mix to keep your vegetable plants healthy and produce lots of fruit.

Those located in North GA or Chattanooga, TN, probably battle with our native red-clay soil, but if you haven’t — it’s the worst.

The red clay is poor-draining and makes it impossible for plants to soak up the nutrients they need. To grow outside in our native soil, you’ll have to mix it with compost or use our customized planting mix.

We make our planting mix for gardening in red-clay, but it works just as well for potted plants.

Give us a call or stop by today to purchase the planting mix you need for happy and healthy plants.