Winter Vegetables

July 20, 2012 12:00 am

Cold Crops or Cole Crops?

What’s the difference? Well, lets just say that the terms have become interchangeable over time. Cold crops refer to vegetables that can be grown in cooler weather or climates while Cole crops are any vegetable in the mustard or cruciferae family, most of which happen to grow well in cooler weather. Cole crops can stand temperatures as low as 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit.


When growing Cole crops in the northwest, timing is important. For flowering or sprouting veggies like broccoli or cauliflower, it is good to sow seed early to mid July or plant starts mid July through August. This will allow the plant to take advantage of the summer heat to develop size and abundant foliage. The weather will cool down enough by the time the plant starts to set sprouts allowing it to grow giant heads without bolting or going to flower. Leafy greens like mustard, collards, chard and lettuce can be planted and harvested and replanted and harvested again from August on. Just remember that the colder the weather, the slower your crop will grow so consider planting extra if you’re starting later in the season.


Plant for winter vegetables just as you would any other time of year with one exception, fertilizing is more important than ever. During the warm months, the soil is alive with specialized fungus and bacteria that break down organic matter into nutrients that your veggies need to survive and thrive. When the colder months arrive, these microorganisms become less active or dormant. You will need to provide usable nutrients to these plants through the use of a good organic fertilizer.

Veggies that thrive in the winter

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Garlic Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Parsnip
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • plus many types of herbs