Plan Now to Prevent Future Winter Veggie Envy

  By Katie Vincent, Garden Hotline, Seattle Tilth A snowy winter walk through Seattle gardens reveals robust heads of broccoli and cabbage completely unfazed by the cold. It seems only fitting that the food which sustains our bodies through the chilly winter can itself withstand freezing temperatures. Many even taste sweeter after a hard frost! Timing for winter gardening can be a little counter-intuitive. In order to develop healthy root systems and store enough energy, winter vegetables need to be planted in mid-to-late-summer. Kale and Collards With their leathery leaves, these two vitamin powerhouses pack plenty of hearty nutrition into any winter meal. Kale needs more time to get established, so it should be seeded in early July, while Collards can be sown all the way until the end of July. Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage The winter season isn’t complete without our favorite broccoli and Brussels sprouts side dishes, nor is cold and flu resilience possible (at least for me) without the probiotic punch of sauerkraut made from homegrown cabbage! Sow your broccoli by early July for fall harvest or for overwintering. Brussels sprouts and cabbage, on the other hand, will need to be sown as early as late-April, May or early June in order to come to fruition by late November. Kohlrabi, Celeriac and Turnips Nothing says “winter stew” like warm, grounding root vegetables. Because they’ll need a lot of sun to store up enough energy to help us through the winter, these taproots will need to be planted early in the season. Yes, this means they’ll take up valuable space for favorite warm-weather crops like tomatoes. Turnip seeds can be sown in late-June to early-July. Kohlrabi, which has a taste similar to sweet broccoli stems, needs to be planted in April. The brilliant celeriac wins the prize for most days to harvest, as the celery-flavored bulb will need to be sown in March—preferably under row cover or a cloche. Garlic, Leeks and Onions While garlic and onions won’t produce until next summer, they are a few of the hardy greens you’ll see in the garden this winter. Onions will need to be planted in August, while garlic cloves can be seeded as late as early November. Leeks, on the other hand, can be ready for a late-winter pot of potato soup if sown in April or May. If you did not plan your winter garden this year, don’t despair! Get a head start on your winter nutrition and plan to leave space for cool weather vegetables next spring. Your future self will thank you! For more information visit the Garden Hotline website at or call us for individualized advice at (206) 633-0224. Be sure to visit the Seattle Tilth website for ongoing organic gardening classes during the growing season: