Dear Planted Places: Can You Grow Food in Winter?

"Can I grow food in winter?" is a question we get asked a lot at Planted Places. If you live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 through 13, we have some good news! You can grow certain plants outside in soil as long as they get at least four to six hours of sun. Find your hardiness zone here.

Now, if you're lucky enough to live in a place where you can grow year-round, your next question may be about what foods you can grow outside during winter.

Grow Food in Winter With Planted Places

Planted Places is all about growing with the seasons. With our monthly gardening subscription, we send our members cold-hardy leafy greens and herbs in the colder months, such as kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, chives and parsley. Check out our seasonal seedling offerings to get a bigger picture of what you can grow with us. Our members love that they don't have to think about what grows in winter—the right seedlings get delivered to their front door no matter the season.

Gardening Experts Available to Help You Grow in Winter

Photo of our garden guru Kaylee growing food in colder weather.

In addition to sending you everything you need to grow food in winter, we have gardening experts on standby to answer your questions. For example, our gardening guru, Kaylee, put together tips for successful winter gardening. Here are a few of them. 

Tip 1: Embrace Microclimates

First thing's first, what are microclimates? Microclimates are special little spaces where the environment is different from the conditions around it. And microclimates can make gardening easier or harder depending on what the microclimate is! For instance, if you place a heat-loving plant along a cool and shady North wall, it’s probably not going to be very happy. But, if you place some cool-loving greens there during the heat of summer, they will probably thrive compared to placing them in a hot, sunny spot!

So, how can you capitalize on microclimates to help make winter gardening easier? Try to find warm, sunny locations that offer protection from stormy weather. 

One of Kaylee's favorite microclimates for her winter plants is a protected corner of her home. The house protects the plants on two sides, keeping them safe during wind storms and even blocks out some rain. The house walls also help reflect sunlight! The space faces southwest so the plants can capitalize on any available sunlight! And, best of all, the dryer vent is located just above her plants. This gives the plants extra bursts of warm air every time Kaylee runs the dryer!

Tip 2: Pay Attention to the Forecast

One of the easiest things you can do for winter gardening is to simply check the forecast each day! Most of us check it anyway so that we know how to dress. But, it’s also important to keep your plants in mind when you look at your weather app!

Simply checking the forecast can help you avoid a lot of gardening headaches! 

  • Is it possibly going to freeze tonight? Better cover or move those tender plants!
  • Is it going to be stormy and windy? Perhaps it’s best to move the plants against a house wall for extra protection before heading out the door for work!
  • Is it a nice sunny day? Put your potted plants in an open area where they can soak in all that sun!

Learning how to be more in tune with the weather will help you become a better gardener in all seasons, but it’s especially important during the winter when the weather can be unpredictable. This simple daily check-in with your plants is also a great way to monitor their overall health.

Tip 3: Keep Regular Care In Mind!

Growing food in winter is usually much more carefree than summer gardening! Some of us may not even need to water depending on our environment! But, even during the winter, your plants still need regular care. 

Check your plants each day. They may still need regular waterings every few days if you are in a dry region. Certain pests can also still be a persistent problem, so check the underside of the leaves regularly for pest damage. And don’t forget sunlight! During the winter, when the days are shorter and tend to be cloudier, it’s important to make sure your plants get as much sunlight as possible.

Have we convinced you that it's possible to grow food in winter (if you live in zones 8-13) and year-round for that matter? Sign up for a Planted Membership today, and be sure to download our free Winter Garden Guide below.