Food security means having local, healthy and accessible food throughout the year. We have a mild climate here, and with some planning and preparation, gardeners can overwinter vegetables well and garden throughout the year.

Winter Gardening vs. Overwintering

Winter gardening essentially means planting in the later summer and early autumn months for harvesting through the winter. The plants grow enough during the growing season to then sit in the ground until harvesting.

Overwintering means planting vegetables during the growing season to be harvested in the following season. Garlic is planted in October to be harvested in July. Many plants, such as carrots, celery, chard and kale go to seed in the second year. These plants are biennial and must be over-wintered for gardeners to be able to save the seeds.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Don’t clean it all up!
    • Exposed soil is prone to erosion, compaction and heaving and nutrient loss
    • Give beneficial insects homes. Many overwinter in hollow stems or under leaves
    • Leave seeds for the birds. Sunflowers are a great food source for songbirds through the winter
  • Mulch mulch mulch!
    • Prevents nutrients and soil from being washed away
    • Helps with soil structure as it breaks down
    • Add nutrients as it breaks down if using leaf mulch
    • Insulates overwintered vegetables
  • Types of mulch
    • Leaf mulch or leafmold
    • Straw
    • Grass clippings
    • Green manure (cover crop)

Each type of mulch has its pros and cons. Find what works for you. We love using leaves at RFSS. They’re free and easy to apply.