Help keep One Green Planet free and independent! Together we can ensure our platform remains a hub for empowering ideas committed to fighting for a sustainable, healthy, and compassionate world. Please support us in keeping our mission strong.
Though we tend to think of garden-fresh vegetables as a summertime thing, a treat to appreciate when the weather outside is inviting, there are actually a huge collection of crops that don’t hit their full stride without some frosty—literally—weather.
By and large, these are vegetables that we don’t want to plant in the summertime. When the weather is hot, they tend to bolt and go to seed, often making themselves fairly inedible. Instead, we want to plant these crops during the colder seasons of spring and fall, when the weather is moderate but not immune to dropping to freezing at night.
The beautiful part of such crops, aside from the fact that they are some of our favorites, is that they allow us to produce fresh food at home for much longer than those months of summer. In fact, these awesome vegetables demand it!
While hard, long freezes can damage root vegetables like beets, frost can actually improve their flavor. Beets have a sweet and earthy flavor that some folks adore, and the sugars only increase in them after a frost. Consequently, these are great, nutritious veggies for growing in fall and early spring gardens.
2. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts spent a long time in the doldrums of frozen vegetable aisles, usually disregarded entirely or pushed aside on holiday dinner plates. But, they’ve made a serious splash of late, and they are making it into all sorts of hip dishes. Good news! They are cool weather crops that taste even tastier after a toe-tingling frost.
Cabbage is a versatile term in this instant. We have the heads of cabbage found in Coleslaw and sauerkraut lore, but there are many other versions of cabbage: Napa, savoy, red, etc. Regardless of the cabbage, they are all improved by a dusting or three of frost. It’s a special trait of the brassica family.
In most kitchens, carrots are a mainstay. Not only are they a fabulous vegetable for eating as a side dish, but they are part of the seasoning vegetables—along with onions, celery, and/or bell peppers—used in so many dishes. Carrots that have been through a frosty night or two are notably sweeter and more delicious.
Stout enough to stand in for sandwich wraps and tasty enough to be a beloved side on every soul food menu, collard greens have earned a place in every garden. And, they are easy to grow! Collards, a member of the cabbage family, improve in flavor after a frost.
Another brassica with famously nutritious leaves, kale plants work best when grown at the shoulder seasons so that a little frost dusts their shoulders. Kale has lots of nutrients and can be used in all sorts of stuff: green juices, soups, scrambles, pasta, salads…
A must-have but often overlooked vegetable in the cool-weather garden is the humble leek. Though often overshadowed by cousins like onion and garlic, leeks are delicious and can be harvested late into the season. As long as the ground doesn’t freeze into concrete, they improve a touch with each frost.
An under-sung root vegetable, at least in the US, parsnips deserve a place on our dinner tables. They can be much more than a holiday anomaly, and while delicious roasted, they have more versatility than that, too. Parsnips, like carrots and beets, are a root vegetable that only hits their full stride when frosts sweeten it up.
The classic cold-weather crop from way back is spinach. Unwilling to even consider the heat of summer, spinach only grows well when it is cool outside, and those nutrient-packed leaves aren’t at the best until frosted over. Put it in salads, stir-fry it, or stuff it in a pie!
A final root vegetable for the list, turnips—the swollen root—get sweeter with a frost, as do those tasty turnip greens. This is a fantastic, fast-growing vegetable to add to the early spring and autumn gardens. Turnips are worth getting more familiar with, and don’t forget to eat those turnip greens as well!
These are fun, rewarding vegetables to grow. Most of them are very agreeable, and one of the beautiful things about cool-weather gardens is that pests are much less of an issue. Plus, nothing quite beats going out in chilly winter wind and pulling up something fresh and fantastic to eat.
- Culinary Herbs for Your Fall and Winter Garden
- 7 Things You Should Be Saving Over Winter for Next Spring’s Garden
- How to Use Winter Cover Crops to Keep Gardens Fertile
- How to Winterize the Garden for More Success in the Spring
For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!