Translated by Nick R
If the area where you live has too low temperatures or winter is just coming, you may be doubting whether you can start your home vegetable garden.
The answer is: Absolutely! Many plants adapt to the cold and thrive even better in cold conditions.
That’s why now we’ll talk about the traits of cold-weather crops. We’ll show you which aromatic, medicinal, and vegetable plants are perfect for frost and recommend you a total of 9 crops with their respective care and sowing processes.
Table of Contents
What are cold climate crops?
Cold weather crops are those that not only can withstand cool temperatures but also need them to germinate, grow, bear fruit and mature. So these crops even benefit from light frosts to improve and increase their flavors.
That said, if you want to start the planting process early in the year, do it early enough in the spring so that the plants can complete their full-cycle until harvest before temperatures get too high.
For, unlike warm-weather crops, cool-season crops should be planted to mature when the weather is still cool and before the heat of summer arrives. However, you can also do this in early autumn or winter, when the plant develops its roots and grows as soon as spring arrives.
In the same way, later on, we’ll discuss the recommendations according to each plant.
4 cold-weather vegetables for beginners
We’ll start with the easiest vegetables to grow in cold climates, which are also great for beginner gardeners.
Garlic is an ideal plant for cultivation as it is widely used as a seasoning in cooking, desired for its medicinal properties, and even works as an insect repellent. In addition, You’ll see how easy it’s to grow and how little space it requires.
Its leaves look like a long, green stalk that grows out of the plant’s core. While under the soil, a firm bulb forms, each of which can contain between 4 and 20 cloves.
How to plant garlic
Ideally, you want to allow some time before the ground freezes for the plant to develop good roots, but not long enough for it to grow above ground before cooler temperatures set in. That said, it’s good to start planting in the fall, 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost.
Now to begin, separate a garlic bulb into individual cloves, but don’t peel them. We recommend using white garlic, which is perfect for autumn.
Then, plant each clove at about 3 centimeters deep, leaving the thin part facing up. That is, the oval part will touch the bottom of the hole.
The space between each tooth should be 10 to 15 centimeters, while the space between the rows varies between 25 and 30 centimeters. Finally, to finish the process remember to give the crop a good watering.
How to care for garlic
The soil should have sufficient humidity, nutrients and good drainage. For this, we recommend using a universal substrate and you can complement it with organic fertilizer or compost.
You can plant in pots with drainage holes and leave a plate underneath if you don’t want to water so often. You can also plant directly on the soil, just keep in mind that it must be fertile and well-nourished.
As for light, garlic likes good lighting, and you can even put it where it receives direct sunlight. it’ll do very well there.
When it comes to watering remember to keep the soil evenly moist (not excessively) during the germination and growing season. If the temperature rises you can also increase the amount of water, always avoiding puddles.
It’s also advisable to let the soil dry for 2 to 3 weeks before harvesting, as there is a risk that the humidity will encourage mold growth during this season.
How to harvest garlic
Garlic is ready to harvest when most of its leaves turn brown. Remember that it yields only one crop since it’s a bulbous plant.
When digging up the bulbs be careful not to squeeze or bruise them. Then, you should let the garlic dry for 2 or 3 weeks in a shady area with good air circulation.
you’ll know they are ready to be stored when their wrapper and roots are dry. You can then remove the dirt, roots and leaves. it’s important to keep them in a cool, dark and dry place so they’ll last for a long time.
You can select some cloves from the bulkiest and best-grown garlic to use in your next planting.
The onion crop is quite resistant to lower seasons and we know it’s an essential daily ingredient in the kitchen. Its varieties include white, yellow and red onions. The most recommended for cold weather are the first 2.
How to plant onion
Just like garlic, you can start in autumn 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost. In cold-weather regions, it can be as early as late spring.
Simply take an onion with some roots at one end and cut it horizontally in half.
The end with the root is the one you’ll plant, while the other half can be used in the kitchen. Place the rooted end of the onion downwards and cover it with a little soil. Remember to give it a good splash of water.
After 15 days, you’ll be able to identify the sprouts that this piece of onion sowed, usually 2 to 4. The number of sprouts is the same as the onions you’re likely to harvest. In about a month, when the sprouts have rooted and long green stalks have grown, it’s time to transplant.
To do so, wet the soil to facilitate the extraction of the plant. Then carefully separate each sprout making sure that each has its own root. And finally, plant the shoots with good space between them or in separate pots.
How to care for onion
Use loose, well-drained soil. Onions need good food, so if you provide them with sufficient nutrients they’ll develop large bulbs. Using a universal substrate will be spectacular, but you can also opt for regular soil and fertilize it with organic compost or worm castings.
You can plant in pots; the size will depend on the number of onions you’ll plant.
It can also be in raised beds, even there, you can transplant it simply by leaving more space between the sprouts. Keep in mind that raised or cultivation beds are rectangular and somewhat deep cavities generally delimited by wood. In this way, you control the soil in which the crops will grow and have more space than in a conventional pot.
Finally, of course, you can plant directly in the ground if you want a larger crop, which requires more space.
For light, onions, like garlic, prefer to be outdoors and in a spot where they receive direct sunlight.
For watering, keep the soil moist so that its shallow roots can take up water. You can water the plant every time you tap the top soil and this feels dry.
If you’re going to continue your onion crop later, you’ll want to practice crop rotation to reduce the risk of disease and pest infestations. This means you don’t plant in the same place where you have had onions or garlic in the last 2 or 3 years.
How to harvest onion
Approximately after 3 and a half to 4 months, you’ll be able to harvest your onions as the bulbs will have reached an ideal size. However, onions can be consumed at any size.
Onions can also be sown by seeds, but the method we have just shown you is the one that will allow you to harvest in the shortest time. Besides, you’ll only need an onion that you already have at home.
For full-sized bulbs, let the onions grow and mature. they’ll be ready to harvest when the onions start to show and the tips start to turn yellow and fall off.
With the help of the stalk, take them out of the soil, then they must also go through a curing process just like garlic. For this, you leave the onions in a well-aerated dry place for at least 1 week.
This process will dry the roots and seal the top of the onion to prevent rotting. After a few days, simply clean the onions to remove the soil without removing the protective skin and cut off the roots and excess stem.
Spinach is one of the hardiest vegetables as it can withstand temperatures down to -10° C and becomes sweeter as the weather gets colder. So it’s the ideal ingredient to prepare your salads and enjoy all its properties.
How to plant spinach
It can be planted in late winter or early spring as well as in autumn.
Place the seeds in a glass of water for about 2 hours, and remove those you see floating because they won’t germinate.
You can sow directly in the container or soil, but we recommend starting with seedlings first and then transplanting them.
For this, you can reuse egg cartons. Just make a hole in the bottom to help drainage, then place a little soil in each space and put 1 to 3 seeds with a depth of 2 or 3 centimeters. Water them a little with the help of a sprinkler.
In approximately 1 or 2 weeks, the seeds will have germinated and you can transplant them to the pot or soil. The good thing is that you don’t have to remove the seedling from the cardboard, but just cut each section and insert it into the soil.
In the place where the spinach will grow, leave a space of 7 to 10 centimeters between them.
How to care for spinach
Spinach also likes nutritious and well-drained soil. So again, we recommend using universal substrates or potting soils together with some fertilizer to provide more nutrients.
As we mentioned earlier you can use pots, larger containers such as growing beds or directly in the ground. it depends on how much you want to plant and the available space.
As for light, you can keep it in a place with full or partial sun. However, in warmer areas, it’s important to place them in shade.
For watering, when the seeds are germinating you should water them regularly to ensure they have good moisture. As they grow, continue with constant watering, always without puddling.
Among the pests that enjoy eating spinach leaves are aphids and red spider mites. However, the low temperatures in which this crop is produced decrease the likelihood of pests arriving.
How to harvest spinach
Spinach only takes 40 to 45 days to reach harvest potential. Once you see 5 to 6 good leaves, you can begin to use them.
Although you can harvest the whole plant at once by cutting from the base, you can also remove one leaf or layer at a time. This will give the inner layers more time to develop.
In spring or when the plants are about to mature, it’ll be time to remove the whole plant at once so you can enjoy the leaves before they turn bitter.
Finally, remember to wash each leaf well before use.
Winter cold spells stimulate this crop to produce more sugars, which act as a kind of antifreeze to protect the roots from frost. While the carrot tops are hardy to -8°C, roots can tolerate even colder temperatures.
How to plant carrot
Carrots are best grown from seed. Although the carrot’s head can be used to produce sprouts they’ll be too small and difficult to grow.
It takes approximately 30 days for the seed to germinate, and you can sow it first in seedbeds for better control and then arrange the seedlings in the place where they’ll finish growing.
You can reuse a deep disposable cup for the seedbed. There you place about 3 seeds at a depth of 2 centimeters, cover them with a little more soil and give them a good splash of water. Remember that not all the seeds may germinate, and if they do, the good thing is that you can separate them when transplanting them.
When the seedling has grown 10 centimeters or more, it’ll be time to transplant. Once you have chosen the container, fill it about halfway with soil and measure the sprout so that it’s well placed.
Then, with one hand place the seedling, and with the other add more soil on the sides so that it’s firm. It should be straight so that the bulb develops properly. Finally, don’t forget to water it generously.
As an extra tip, if you’re growing directly in the soil, you should sow each seed separately and try to leave a space of at least 15 centimeters between them.
How to care for carrot
Carrots need sandy and loose soil. In this case, avoid using fertilizers such as manure, although you can add dry leaves that will provide organic matter to the soil.
Precisely the light soil allows the carrot roots to grow easily without obstructions so that the crop doesn’t get deformed.
For the container, you can use anything from a bottle, a deep pot, elevated beds, or the soil. The important thing is that the plant has enough space to develop because if it has any problems regarding this, it’s also become deformed.
Although, it should be clarified that, although your carrot crop is not aesthetically pleasing (especially in comparison with the carrots in the square or supermarkets), it doesn’t mean that it won’t taste good or that it’s not consumable.
On the other hand, carrots do well in a place that receives full sunlight, but they can also be grown in partial shade. it’s really not very demanding in this matter.
Water it thoroughly, especially because as it’s a bulbous plant, we need the water to run down and soak all the roots. Because of the type of soil, it’s natural that puddles don’t form, so always provide a good stream of water to the carrot crop.
How to harvest carrot
You’ll know it’s time to harvest when the plant has developed long, abundant green stalks. In addition, you can see that the carrot head is already showing and the size of the carrot is good.
First, loosen the soil well helping yourself with a shovel or even a spoon. Then, with your palm take the stems and with the other remove the soil from the sides of the plant. Also, keep rubbing until you manage to take the carrot out.
The whole process of carrot cultivation, from planting to harvesting, can take about 6 months.
3 cold weather aromatic plants
Now, we want to explain which cold weather aromatic plants you can plant in your garden.
Peppermint or spearmint
The peppermint is an aromatic herb widely used in gastronomy for its aroma and freshness. it’s characterized by its bright green leaves, besides being an essential plant to make infusions.
How to plant peppermint
The best way to start planting spearmint in your garden is by taking cuttings from an adult plant. The ideal time to do this is in early spring.
For that, you need to take a stem of at least 10 centimeters. Some people prefer to leave it in a glass of water for about 15 days to encourage branching. However, you can also plant it directly in the ground.
Remember to remove any leaves at the bottom of the stem, as new roots will grow from there.
When placing the cuttings in the container where they’ll continue to grow, you can put several at once. This way you’ll have a bushier plant. To do this, place the largest cutting in the middle surrounded by the rest.
Finally, give the plant a good amount of water. As it has just been transplanted it may even be a little waterlogged.
How to care for peppermint
You can use a universal or potting soil as it likes to be in fertile well-draining soils. You can complement it with worm castings, eggshells or any other fertilizers.
As this plant reproduces easily, the most important thing is to plant it in a pot or container to keep it under control. However, it’s good that such a pot has plenty of places so that the spearmint can expand better.
As for light, it doesn’t need lots of sunlight to grow, it even does quite well in a shady or semi-shady spot, rather than being exposed directly to the sun’s rays.
It needs to receive a good watering, even if it’s a plant that the more you water the more it grows. Therefore, a lack of water will cause it to wilt easily. So, it’s better to water it regularly, especially when it’s growing.
If problems with pests occur, you can prune it to keep the plant clean and tidy. You can also visit our blog on homemade insecticides to learn how to control them.
How to harvest peppermint
You can harvest the plant every time you need to use it. So you can take leaves as you need them and you’ll see that they’ll last for several years.
Precisely for its rapid reproduction and growth, it’s good to divide the plant approximately every 2 years to keep it healthy. This way you’ll have other pots with spearmint, or you can give this plant as a gift to your loved ones.
it’s a very beautiful plant that also provides you with nutritional and soothing benefits, so it’ll surely be of great help if kept in your crops.
There are 2 types of chamomile, German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum Nobile). Of the two, German chamomile produces more flowers, while Roman chamomile is known to give more fragrant flowers. However, their cultivars are the same.
How to plant chamomile
Both varieties grow quickly and reach full bloom in about 10 weeks. That said, it’s best to plant them in early spring or after the last winter frost.
You can use seeds or cuttings from an adult plant. In fact, both processes work quite well but as usual, using sprouts makes the procedure faster and easier.
As for cuttings, take a stem that emerges from the union with another stem, 10 centimeters tall. That is, those with a Y-shape. Then, remember to remove the lower leaves.
Place each cutting where you want it to grow and flatten the soil to make it stable. Water the plant and keep the humidity constant for about 2 weeks while they are growing.
As for the seeds, they are tiny so you should spread them evenly over the soil and give them a good splash of water. Then cover the pot with plastic wrap to maintain the humidity and help the seeds germinate.
you’ll see that after a week, small sprouts will appear. You can remove the wrap but keep watering constantly.
After a few weeks, when the sprouts have grown more, it’ll be time to transplant them to another pot or to arrange them, for example, in raised beds. To do this, remember to moisten the soil and carefully remove each plant, making sure they keep the roots.
How to care for chamomile
For the soil, you can use universal or potting compost, remember to complement it with some homemade organic fertilizer. Chamomile flowers are better if grown in rich, organic soil. Although they can survive in poorer soils, their stems won’t be as strong.
You can have it in pots, raised beds or directly in the ground. Again, it depends on how big your chamomile crop will be. Keep in mind, though, that it self-seeds through the seeds it drops on its own.
On the other hand, it grows fine in full sunlight or partial shade.
Watering should be frequent during the plant’s growth. Thereafter, it can be regular, allowing the plant to dry out a bit between waterings. It’s quite tolerant of drought, per se.
Chamomile is not usually affected by pests. It’s even recommended to have it in the vegetable garden as its strong scent keeps pests away.
How to harvest chamomile
You can recognize the proper moment easily because it’s have formed its beautiful flowers with a yellow center and white petals, but just when the flower begins to curl. Next, you can use it to prepare infusions and drinks or apply them to obtain their benefits.
Cut the flowers with a pair of pruning shears, you can take the leaves at any time. However, never take more than 1/3 of the plant so that it continues to bloom.
Generally, the yellow heads are left to dry before being used for tea. To do this, just place them in a well-ventilated space for a few days.
Fennel is an herb and vegetable used in the culinary field, very popular for its crunchy aniseed flavor. It has also been very well incorporated into cosmetics for its excellent medicinal properties.
How to plant fennel
You can start in early spring or after the last winter frost.
Although sowing can be done by seed or division, the latter is not as easy as in other cases. Fennel has a more delicate root, not prone to being divided or forced.
That said, we’ll tell you how to sow it from its seeds. For this, you should soak them for 1 or 2 days to ensure better germination. Subsequently, it’s better to sow a few seeds in the place where you’ll let the plant complete its growth. Therefore, make several holes of 3 or 4 centimeters and place 1 seed per hole.
Depending on the size of the pot, the number of seeds may vary, but it’s good if they have a space of 10 to 15 centimeters between each other. Finally, water the soil abundantly.
How to care for fennel
It likes to be in nutrient-rich, moist, and well-drained soil. You can use, for example, sandy or clay soils and fertilize them organically.
For the pot, you can use one that has drainage holes, but keep a tray at the bottom to maintain the soil moist for a longer time.
As for light, the fennel will grow perfectly in a spot with full sun or partial shade.
Watering can be more constant at the beginning of germination and plant growth. After that, you can reduce the regularity a bit, as long as you keep the soil moist.
You may witness a worm or two and to get rid of them, it’s best to check your plant at night and remove them manually.
How to harvest fennel
Fennel leaves can be harvested at any time during their growing. This even causes the plant to become bushier, which means you’ll have more yields.
However, be sure not to trim more than 1/3 of the plant when harvesting.
If you want to harvest the bulb, the best thing to do is to cut the stems regularly to encourage its development. When you see that it’s starting to show you can use it. This will take approximately 3 and a half months.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to harvest the seeds or you want to prevent reseeding, it’s best to cut the flowers as soon as they bloom.
2 medicinal plants for cold weather
Finally, we would like to recommend 2 excellent medicinal plants that you can plant in cold seasons as they are well adapted.
Aloe or aloe vera is a spectacular plant to have in the garden because of its many medicinal properties, its easy care, and excellent resistance to climatic conditions.
How to plant Aloe
You can start the planting at the end of spring. If in your residence the temperatures are too low in winter, you should consider having your plant in a pot to take it inside; aloe can withstand the cold, but not necessarily the frost.
The best way to have aloe vera in your garden is by using sprout cuttings. Although seeds can be taken, we already know that this takes longer and is not always successful.
Therefore, you’ll need small sprouts that will grow around the parent plant. If you don’t have an aloe vera plant, you can simply buy it at a nursery or garden store. It doesn’t need to be very large to obtain great benefit from it.
When removing the shoots try to keep some of their roots and remember these plant branches easily. Then plant the cuttings in a pot or directly in the ground, leaving space between them of at least 30 centimeters.
To position them properly, hold the cutting with one hand and with the other, and add soil to the sides. Then, use your fingers to press the soil down to ensure that the sprout gets firm.
As always, finish the process by watering the plant.
How to care for Aloe
For the soil, you can use succulents or cacti substrate since aloe vera doesn’t tolerate humidity and needs well-drained and aerated soil. It would be wonderful for the plant to add crushed eggshells to the soil.
You can plant in pots with holes or use stones and charcoal at the bottom to help drainage. If you’re planting directly in the soil, you can also prepare the soil with some perlite or vermiculite to avoid excess humidity.
For the light, it should receive indirect sunlight or semi-shade, but still with good illumination. If exposed directly to the sun’s rays, its leaves may burn.
Watering should be abundant but infrequent. That is, the soil should feel moist after watering but allowed to dry to a degree before watering again.
Here, the best way is to poke a toothpick or skewer stick into the soil. If it comes out smeared with soil traces, it’s still wet. Whereas, it would be time to water the plant again if it comes out completely clean.
How to harvest Aloe
Use those leaves that come first from bottom to top. That is, the ones closest to the ground. This is because those already have a thick base, and removing them will let the rest finish forming.
So, to extract the leaf you only have to make a small cut with a knife. You’ll do it at an extreme close to the stem, and with your hand, you’ll pull the leaf gently moving it from side to side. it’s come out effortlessly.
If you want to know more about the medicinal uses of this plant and how to extract its gel, we invite you to visit our blog on everything you should know about Aloe vera.
Although it’s considered a weed because of its stinging hairs that cause burning and inflammation, the nettle has a large amount of nutrients and vitamins. So you won’t regret having it in your garden.
How to plant nettle
The planting process begins 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. Its cultivation is employing seeds, although it can also be done by cuttings.
The procedure for cuttings is the same as in other cases. You only have to take a stem from an adult plant, remove the lower leaves and plant it in a pot.
While using the seeds, you’ll only have to put several at the same time in the pot, but you’ll see that they are very small and not all of them manage to germinate. Then, cover them with a thin layer of soil and give them a good splash of water.
Depending on how many sprouts have germinated, you can leave the plant in that pot to grow there together. If you see that they are lacking space, transplant them into new containers.
Always remember to protect your hands well when handling this plant so that you don’t get any discomfort.
How to care for nettle
Nettles are not demanding at all, so you can use any type of soil you have available and fertilize it with manure or worm castings, which it’s love!
We recommend using pots or containers to keep this plant in your garden or vegetable garden, as it is self-seeding and can become invasive. This way, you can keep it under control.
It does well in an area with plenty of sunlight, although it can also be kept in a partially shaded space.
You can water it constantly to keep the soil moist. As always, avoid waterlogging.
In itself, keeping nettle alive is not usually a problem. it’s one of the plants that thrive despite negligence. Remember that it’s even considered a “weed” and many struggles to eradicate it.
Another positive aspect is that it never suffers from pest problems. It also helps to prevent the appearance of pests in nearby crops.
How to harvest nettle
First, you must wear gardening gloves to protect your hands from stinging hair. Afterward, harvest the large, healthy leaves and place them in a container. You can also choose to take the root, which also has medicinal properties.
Then you’ll only need to boil the leaves and roots to use them as you prefer or need. And don’t worry, by doing this, they’ll no longer be toxic or harmful to your health.
As a tip to keep in mind, it’s important that in all crops you weed and remove unwanted plants. This is especially important so that they don’t steal nutrients from your beloved crops.
Also remember that to get seeds or cuttings you can go to local florists, nurseries or stores with gardening sections or exchange them directly with local farmers.
Finally, we hope that this blog has been useful for you to learn about the process of planting and caring for these cold climate plants. Also, if you live in a place with constant cold temperatures, what would be better for you than to know what to grow.