It takes some planning. And, depending on your growing zone, it may take some straw, row covers or cold frames. But it really is possible in most USDA Zones to eat something out of your garden year round.
That’s easy for me to say, I live in Northern California and garden in Zone 9b. So, don’t take my word for it. Grab The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman. He’ll tell you everything you need to know to grow through the winter—and he’s farming in Maine!
Our favorite snap pea, ‘Sugar Daddy’, is delicious this time of year, sweet, crisp and productive. It’s growing alongside ‘Catalina’ spinach which is producing a surprising amount of salad greens and stuffing for omelettes. In the bed behind, you can see the tops of parsnips ready for pulling. Get your digging trowel ready though, those roots are deeper than they look.
One of the joys of winter food gardens is that the wet weather waters for you. Try to be sure that you position plants that are sensitive to too much moisture, like these peas, in raised beds with good air circulation around the plants so you don’t have to fight mold for the delicious pods. Even though pea plants will grow happily when crowded, consider spacing the seeds a bit farther apart in the winter to give them good air circulation and also so they are better able to share the available sunlight.
Kale, spinach and collards prefer the cool winter weather. The spinach that I am growing will not do a thing for me in warm weather even when I shade it with tomato plants. But it grows well in the winter and doesn’t fall apart when exposed to a light frost. The ‘Dwarf Siberian’ kale and ‘Vates’ collards actually improve their flavor after exposure to colder temperatures. Most of the red cabbages growing among them have been ripped apart by slugs, but the green cabbages are doing much better and providing us with slaw and sauerkraut galore.
Here are the 22 fresh foods we can eat out of our yard this February:
2. Mustard Greens
3. Snap Peas, Snow Peas and Shelling Peas
10. New Potatoes
12. Fava Beans
18. Bok Choi
19. Green Garlic
Do you have a favorite winter-grower in your food garden? Let us know about it in the comments section. We’d love to hear what works for you and give it a try next year.