Homesteading in the Winter Series: Post 2 – Growing Cool Weather Fruits and Vegetables

Here’s another post on the topic of “Homesteading in the Winter.” 

Each Thursday there will be a new post on a different issue associated with the needs and unique challenges of living on a homestead (big or small, urban or rural) during the winter.  

Today’s topic is “Growing Cool Weather Fruits and Vegetables.”  

So,  last week we posted about protecting your plants in the winter but THIS week we’re writing about which fruits and vegetables are good to grow in cool/cooler weather.  (Maybe these topics should have been switched, eh?)
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that we live in the southwest and that our “winters” aren’t typical of most winters around the country.  During winter, we can still grow a lot of things.


I LOVE brassicas.  I love eating them, I love growing them.  The brassicas that I love to grow include:
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • kale
  • brussels sprouts.

I have trouble with brussels sprouts, but I’m able to grow the others beautifully.  Brassicas are known for being cold tolerant and do not like high temperatures.  They do well in the shade.  They are a great fall/winter crop.  Both broccoli and brussels sprouts are known to have improved flavor for having been exposed to a mild frost.

Root Vegetables

There are many root vegetables that do well in the cold and that may actually “overwinter.”  Some of the cold-weather root vegetables that I like to grow include:
  • carrots –  (though I often fail)
  • radishes – (though I’m not terribly fond of the taste)
  • beets – (and chard)
Radishes actually grow best when the day length is short and I’ve read a couple of articles about people who thickly mulch over their carrots to get them through the winter.  I love roasted beets but can’t get my husband on board.
You might be wondering why I have chard in this group… well, chard and beets are actually the same species of vegetables.  So I could have thrown it in with lettuce but it is actually more accurate to throw it in with beets.  As an aside, I really like chard (though not as much as kale) and it is considered one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat.  It is also a beautiful plant!

Peas and Beans

I love growing peas.  They are beautiful and you can’t beat the flavor of a fresh pea off the vine.  While the blossoms are frost tender, you can usually get a pea plant and the peas through a light frost without much or any damage.
Beans are all over the map. Some like it hot and some like it cold.  I’m going to try my hand at fava beans this year and see how I do.  They will grow throughout the entire winter here, so I’m looking forward to it.


Ok.  NOW I’ve got your attention!  What are tomatoes doing on this list, you ask?  Well, here in the southwest, the rule of thumb is that you have to get your tomato transplants done before Valentine’s Day to get the best production.  BUT, the trick is, you have to keep them protected because as we all know, tomatoes don’t like the cold.  So, since tomatoes are SORTA a cool weather plant here, we have to protect them.  I love these little contraptions Wall O’ Water Season Extender that you see in the picture.  They work AMAZINGLY well.
Finally, I want to give a quick plug to my post on starting seeds with grow lights.  A great way to grow plants in the cold is to start them as seeds indoors so that you will have strong, healthy transplants to put in the ground once the weather improves.  Just make sure you are ready with row cover – Dalen HG25 Gardeneer By Harvest or a cold frame if you put something in the ground that is particularly sensitive.
What about you?   What cold weather plants are your favorite to grow?