What can you grow in the winter in Colorado? Did you know that you can grow a lot of cool-season vegetables in the winter months in Colorado with a little cover? Read about some of our favorite vegetables to grow in the autumn, winter and spring months below:
Winter Gardening in Colorado Top Vegetable Pick: Green Onions
Green onions are so easy to grow and they thrive in the early spring! We grow green onions nearly year-round in Garden Bed Hoop Houses – with just a little cover you can grow fresh green onions for adding to recipes during the winter and early spring months. We especially love growing Egyptian Walking Onions which multiply readily as they produce clusters of onion bulbils at the top of the stalks where the flowers would be. If left alone, these mini onion tops fall over and plant themselves, hence “walking” across the garden. You can also snip them off and plant the bulbils to propagate a large amount of onions. They don’t form large bulbs like regular onions, but they are delicious as green onions! Egyptian Walking Onions are very cold-hardy in Colorado, and their tender young green onion shoots can often be enjoyed all winter long if grown under cover. Just snip them off and they will regrow again and again. You can also find many varieties of bunching onions that are quite hardy which can thrive in your Hoop House in the winter months.
Winter Gardening in Colorado
Top Vegetable Pick: Cilantro
Cilantro is a cool season herb that thrives in the spring! It’s great to sow seeds now through spring; make sure they’re planted about ¼ to ½ inches deep in rich soil with plenty of aged compost mixed in. Cilantro is surprisingly frost tolerant if it has cover, such as in a Garden Bed Hoop House. What’s nice about growing it this time of year is that it doesn’t bolt (flower and go to seed) – so you get a lot of cilantro greens for a much longer time. When Cilantro does flower in the spring and summer months, let it flower as pollinators love the blooms. Eventually the flowers will form small green balls, which are the immature seeds, and the plant will start to dry out, leaving you with ripened Cilantro seeds, also known as the spice coriander. Once the seeds are brown and mature, you can easily collect them and re-sow for many more harvests to come.
Winter Gardening in Colorado
Top Vegetable Pick: Tatsoi
Growing exotic Asian greens like Tatsoi is possible in Colorado in the winter and early spring months. Tatsoi is similar to Bok Choi, and is quite easy to grow. Like many other greens such as cabbage, mache, lettuce, and spinach, Tatsoi tolerates cold temperatures very well under cover such as in Garden Bed Hoop Houses without any added heat. If you don’t have cover on your garden beds, you can also start seedings indoors (or use the Winter Sowing method with jugs) and transplant outside in garden beds in the early spring. Tatsoi plants are tolerant of some frosts even without cover, so they are a great early spring green for Colorado gardens.
Eat fresh grown greens right from your garden in the winter months – there is nothing more wonderful than going out to pick a fresh handful of greens to use in salads or cooking. We like to stir fry Tatsoi with onions, garlic and some soy sauce for a nice side dish or served with rice. It’s also great when added to soups and stews! This mild green is packed with nutrients including including carotenoids, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and potassium. Grow your vitamins in the winter and try growing some Tatsoi in a Garden Bed Hoop House! You won’t regret it.
Winter Gardening in Colorado Top Vegetable Pick: Swiss Chard Beautiful Swiss Chard grows well in the summer, but did you know that it can also be grown under cover in the winter months? It actually tastes better in the winter months because the cold temperatures help remove bitterness in the leaves, revealing a milder, sweeter flavor. For a winter harvest, you can sow seeds for Chard directly in your Garden Bed in August to get it started, and if covered with a Hoop House in the winter months it will keep growing (albeit slowly in December/January). You can also start seeds for an extra-early spring crop in late winter (now) under the cover of a Hoop House. To harvest Chard, you can pick off the outer leaves, leaving the center of the plant to keep producing. We like to add Swiss Chard to soups, stir fries, or use on salads or sandwiches.
Winter Gardening in Colorado Top Vegetable Pick: Lettuce
Lettuce is an essential part of any good cool-season garden! Did you know that you can grow lettuce year-round in Colorado in a Hoop House Garden Bed? It’s one of the easiest vegetables to grow, and you can harvest it all winter long. Lettuces come in a variety of colors, textures and sizes – so it’s fun to try new varieties throughout the season to keep your salads colorful and new. Try growing Butterhead, Crisphead, Looseleaf or Romaine lettuces. In the winter Hoop House, we like to direct seed lettuce in our Garden Bed Hoop Houses whenever any space opens up from harvesting, to keep a continual supply of lettuce. While it doesn’t grow very fast in December and January, and the days get longer in February and March the lettuce will take off – it loves cooler weather. Make sure to vent your Hoop House to ensure good air circulation and let out the heat, lettuce is a cool-weather loving crop so it doesn’t like to be steamed in a hot Hoop House on sunny days! Here are a few varieties to try in your Hoop House this winter: Little Gem, Red Salad Bowl, Winter Marvel or Black Seeded Simpson. You can harvest lettuce by picking the outer leaves to let the plant keep growing, or cut the whole plant off at the base.
Got Wilted lettuce? Try our tip for keeping lettuce crispy after harvesting:
If you just pick your lettuce and put it right in the fridge, it won’t stay crispy. After you pick the leaves, rinse and then soak your lettuce and other greens in cold water for 20-30 minutes. This will crisp up the leaves and help the lettuce store well in the fridge! Soaking can also help remove dirt and any aphids that may be hiding in the leaves. After soaking, we like to use a salad spinner to spin the greens dry, then store in a bowl with a lid in the fridge.
Winter Gardening in Colorado Top Vegetable Pick: Kale
Kale is another great vegetable to grow in the winter months under cover in Colorado. Blue-green Kale varieties are typically the most cold-tolerant, and they can provide you with greens in the winter months. Kale is known to survive down to -10˚F! If you start Kale in August and get it growing in the Hoop House, you can enjoy the greens all winer long. You can also start Kale seeds now in a Garden Bed Hoop House, or you can also start them indoors and transplant outside into the Garden Bed Hoop House when they’ve gotten a few real leaves. Kale will start growing very well as the days get longer in February and March, and by spring you will have all the Kale you could hope for! Kale can also grow in the summer months, so it’s a great year-round vegetable for your garden!
Winter Gardening in Colorado Top Vegetable Pick: Spinach
Spinach is a great winter crop in Colorado, especially if grown under cover. Spinach is very cold-tolerant, and is one of the best greens for year-round gardening. Even in a small Garden Bed Hoop House, you could be harvesting spinach greens for soups, stir fries and salads all winter long in Colorado.
We have recently started some new spinach seeds (in January) and they sprouted a few weeks later in the Hoop House and are now growing their first leaves. We can start harvesting them as baby spinach in the coming weeks, and, as the days of February and March grow longer, the spinach will take off and we’ll have a super-abundance to enjoy and share. Growing spinach in the fall, winter and early spring months is the best time as it has a tendency to bolt in the heat of summer.
Winter Gardening in Colorado Top Vegetable Pick: Parsley
Healthy and flavorful parsley is an excellent year-round gardening herb for growing under cover during our cold Colorado winters. The parsley photo above was taken in one of our hoop houses on Feb 9th in Denver, Colorado. With a little cover, it will grow all winter long, and provide you with fresh non-stop supply for your kitchen! Parsley is a biennial, which means it will grow the first year with lots of leaves, and then in the second summer it will bloom and set seeds, and die. If you let parsley go to seed, you'll likely find lots of volunteers in your garden that, if very young, are great to transplant to other areas of your garden.
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