12 Vegetables You Can Grow in Winter

A Guide to Planting and Harvesting Winter Vegetables

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 1, 2015

If winter grocery-store produce has you wishing for something fresh from the garden, consider this: you can grow a surprising number of vegetables throughout the winter in our moderate south coast BC maritime climate. (Article continues below slideshow.)

Winter Salad Greens include arugula, bok choi, chicories, lettuce, mache, mustards and spinach. They grow slowly due to low light. Mulch well, and harvest as baby greens or braising mix.
Broccoli can survive most cool maritime winters but may not tolerate sustained freezing weather. Plant a sprouting broccoli variety for a continuous crop of side shoots throughout the winter.
Brussels sprouts are very hardy, and frost makes them sweeter. If you plant in June, they are ready to eat by November or December.
Certain carrot varieties, such as Danvers, store well in the ground. Sow in July, size them up by October, and pull them fresh in the winter.
Chard is frost-hardy and will make it through most winters. Sow from April to June for fall and winter harvest.
Collards are hardy and survive all winter in a coastal marine climate. The large leaves make good wraps.
Kale is one vegetable you can count on throughout the winter. It is easy to grow and hardy, even in freezing temperatures. The leaves become sweeter after a frost.
Leeks are a great onion substitute that grow fresh in cold weather. Slow to mature, they need to be planted in the spring for the fall and winter harvest.
Curly parsley reliably survives the cold, even on frosty days, and provides a leafy garnish. Hamburg parsley, grown for the root, can be harvested from September to March and cooked like any root vegetable.
Parsnips are similar to carrots. If well mulched, they will store well under the winter soil and provide a delicious root vegetable for roasting.
Scallions are Spanish onions that due to low winter light do not form a bulb during cold weather. Protect with mulch and pull them fresh throughout the winter.
Turnips can be a good early winter root crop. Pick them small for milder flavour. Best grown under a cloche or tunnel.
Winter Salad Greens include arugula, bok choi, chicories, lettuce, mache, mustards and spinach. They grow slowly due to low light. Mulch well, and harvest as baby greens or braising mix.

Certain vegetables, like kale and Brussels sprouts, thrive in winter temperatures and actually become sweeter after a frost. Others, with mulch and season extension can usually make it through the winter, even when temperatures dip below freezing or snow stays on the ground for more than a day.

Low light levels and cold will slow growth, so don’t expect to harvest as often as at other times of year. The trick is to plant a lot and make up in abundance for what the winter light cannot produce in size. For example, harvest winter greens as “baby salad greens” or braising mix, rather than expecting large heads.

Start planning in midsummer for your winter crops. Most vegetables (with the exception of leeks, which go in early) need to be planted by July or August to develop sufficiently before the cold sets in.

The guide below shows seed planting and harvest times for winter vegetables in southern maritime British Columbia.

Planting & Harvesting Winter Vegetables in South Coast BC

Winter Vegetables Planting Date  Harvest
Broccoli June – July Winter, Spring
Brussels Sprouts May – June Fall, Winter
Carrots July – Aug Fall, Winter
Chard April – June Fall, Winter
Collards July – Aug Fall, Winter, Spring
Kale July – Aug Fall, Winter, Spring
Leeks April – May Fall, Winter
Parsley/Parsley Root April – Sept Fall, Winter, Spring
Parsnips May – July Fall, Winter
Scallions June – Aug Fall, Winter
Turnips Sept Fall, Winter
Winter Salad Greens:
Arugula Aug – Sept Fall, Winter, Spring
Bok Choi Aug – Oct Winter, Spring
Chicory (Radicchio) June – July Fall, Winter
Lettuce July – Sept Fall, Winter
Mache (Corn Salad) Aug – Oct Fall, Winter, Spring
Mustards July – Aug Fall, Winter
Spinach July – Oct Fall, Winter



More on gardening:
10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens10 Tips for Year-Round Vegetable Gardens

Grow a Climate Change Resilient GardenGrow a Climate Change Resilient Garden

13 Responses leave one →
  1. 2021 October 28
    Margaret permalink

    Hi, wondering what I can plant now ? I have a west facing balcony in Burnaby would to do some veg. Should I buy seedlings or plant seed? Thanks.

    • 2021 October 28
      BC Farms & Food permalink

      This late in the season (late October), you would need to plant from plant starts, preferably the largest starts you can find. Good candidates are winter salad and braising greens, brassica family vegetables, and chard (listed on the chart above).

  2. 2020 July 7
    Deborah Boulton permalink

    What do you suggest for mulch? How could I get some hay to use? I would use grass clippings but have many weeds mixed in so don’t want to. Would leaves be ok?

    • 2020 July 8
      BC Farms & Food permalink

      Straw makes a good mulch. Gardeners also use hay, although, unlike straw, hay often contains seeds. You can buy straw or hay from local farmers. If you’re in the Vancouver Island area, try searching the Farms & Food Map.

      Dried grass clippings make wonderful mulch and probably have no more weed seeds than hay. Dry leaves are also good—especially if run over with a lawnmower to cut them into smaller pieces.

  3. 2017 November 23
    carol johnson permalink

    i have holes on the kale ?it cant be bugs we have had frost.

    • 2019 February 8
      Melanie Sorensen permalink

      Slugs and snails do still attack.
      Although it’s in smaller sessions.
      We also have other small pests that are around that survive winter. Use cloch cloth to help protect from any damage.

  4. 2017 November 23
    carol johnson permalink

    i like to grow kale winter.

  5. 2017 August 7
    Virginia Rego permalink

    I am considering container gardening on my ground floor patio. The patio is pretty much 100% in shade – which would be the best vegetables or herbs to grow?

    • 2017 August 7
      Aleia permalink

      I suggest getting plants from a nursery, so that they are already sprouted and established.
      I have had success with beets, sage, parsley, lettuce and collards in shade.
      Everything will grow slower, but you can do some things to increase your success. 1. Good soil 2. Shade-tolerant strains.
      Even if you have half shade, I have had success growing things like a bucket of potatoes, tomatoes, even a bell pepper plant. Give it super soil, though, ie. Lots of manure, compost and fertilizer. This will greatly increase your success. You start right, and you get better results.

  6. 2016 December 12
    kencossaboo permalink

    I was just checking out your site, I am trying to see what I can grow in the summer to offset grocery costs in the winter. I have a cold room set up, but am looking at what I can harvest in the fall for eating in the winter. (Onions garlic are some I know of but you cannot have onion and garlic soup all winter, I may have to go to green housing, I think.) I loved your site very clean and not busy like other sites.

    • 2017 March 3
      johnny permalink

      There are plenty of things you can grow in the Lower Mainland throughout winter.
      A greenhouse would certainly help though and you can simply lay clear plastic over w/lots of mulch
      Try any of the herbs for example – garlic, oregano, basil, etc.
      Lots of winter cabbages, onions, leeks, turnips, etc.
      Also – have you tried canning or preserving your large summer crops for winter eats?
      You can try pickling as well

  7. 2016 September 26
    charlee permalink


  8. 2015 August 4
    Margaret Johnson permalink

    Thanks, very useful information. I have read about using mache as an edible cover crop and plan to try it this year. At the very least it will keep the deer population plump and robust …

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