What grows in winter?
The answer to that question depends on two factors; where you live and what you mean by grow. Many plants of all varieties are dormant in winter. That doesn’t mean they are dead, simply that they aren’t doing a lot more than staying alive and waiting for spring. Others begin to come to action in late winter, in order to prepare for spring.
Those who live in northern climes have fewer things that grow in the winter, but they still have some. Those in the southern areas have much more options in all areas of growing things in winter; there are two growing seasons in many areas, especially Southern California and Florida.
Some trees grow all year around. Most are called evergreens; pine, spruce and fir being predominant. However, citrus trees also grow all year. This is one of the ways location plays a role in what is going to grow. Our avocado and lime trees are currently have fruit in various stages of ripeness.
In late January, trees begin to let the sap start to flow. This is to prepare for the first leaf buds of spring, which is a few weeks away. Those who make maple or birch syrup and sugar know when to go start tapping them for these sweet tasting saps. The sugar is an acquired taste, but the syrup tends to be much loved.
Hemlock, while usually gray in color, is also an evergreen. While bows of the plant might make good Christmas decorations, it is wise to use caution. It is a deadly poison. Small children and pets might partake and they would likely not survive. Holly grows throughout the year as well. It is often a Christmas decoration, especially if it has red berries.
Fall and winter are the times of root vegetables. If the ground doesn’t freeze and the weather stays warm enough, they will grow all winter and be ready before summer gets here. In more northerly states, it doesn’t work quite as well, although potatoes are often planted on St. Patrick’s Day which is technically still winter.
In the southern parts of the country, vegetables can be grown all year. It is wise to pay attention to frost warnings. Winter vegetables are still subject to them. They need to be brought inside or covered so as to prevent them from being damaged by the frost. Occasionally, even in the deeper parts of the south, there are freezes. That is hard to deal with unless the vegetables are in containers that can be brought indoors.
For container gardening, bush green beans are a good idea. Peas, cabbages and other members of the cabbage family may also grow well if the climate is right for it. Tomatoes may have a hard time, due to the vining they do, but could still be considered if they can be moved easily in case of frost.
Where you live is one thing that plays a role in whether or not the grass will live through the winter… and grow. Some species, like Kentucky Bluegrass, thrive in cold weather. A few species of bentgrass also do well. In the desert Southwest, it is more of a question of what will survive the heat of summer. Grasses in that region grow well in winter and remain green all year… if they have enough water.
Grasses from northern Europe tend to do well, although some that have adapted here have developed a problem with mold. Colonial bentgrass is a good example of this. The mold it may develop is called pink snow mold. For the golfers, velvet bluegrass is something that is often used on golf courses both winter and summer.
Most herbs have to be brought in to survive the winter, although some will come back in spring. However, in the northern parts of the country, wintergreen still grows in winter. Ivy may also continue to do well in the cold, as it is often used for Christmas decorations. Herbs like sage can be hearty enough to handle it, but it does tend to die back and then rejuvenate in the spring.
In the southern parts of the country, most herbs continue to grow all year. Even feverfew, which is cold sensitive and usually considered an annual, may keep growing if temperatures remain well above freezing. The biggest concern in the southwest is water; during a La Nina winter, it may be necessary to continue watering even through the colder months.
While potatoes have already been mentioned, there are other roots and tubers that continue to grow through the winter months. Winter is when comfrey root grows the most. Bulbs such as garlic and daffodils grow in the winter, as do crocuses. That’s why you may see them peeping through snow in late winter and early spring.
One of the most interesting root crops is carrots. If you’ve ever grown them, you may have noticed that at the end of the growing season they are tiny in comparison with the nearly foot long roots available in the supermarket. That’s because carrots are a biennial and the longer carrot roots arrive in the second year.
The roots of trees are also very useful, and some of them can still be harvested in the winter. In fact, that’s where all the growth is going to happen during the colder months. Licorice root is a good example. However, if you use licorice root you’ll need to be careful. Diabetics and those with high blood pressure should avoid the root, even in herbal teas. It is high in natural sugar and can raise the blood pressure dramatically. Over time, this can be deadly.
For many, winter seems like a dead time of year. Grass is yellow and fields aren’t planted. Trees have bare skeleton branches with no leaves. That doesn’t mean that it is a dead time of year. For things to start again in spring, it is important to have the winter growth.
Want to grow more of your own food? Check out how here: https://gardenersguide.net/how-to-grow-a-survival-garden/