The secret to keeping your vegetable garden active during the winter months is to choose cold-hardy vegetables, which are able to grow without difficulty even in the most extreme conditions. Having a team of hardy vegetables and fruits at your disposal is what you need for the coming winter, which is getting closer and closer.
In today’s article, we will find out together how to grow vegetables in December and what are the best tips for winter gardening. We will provide you with a step-by-step guide to growing in December, leaving nothing to chance.
At the end of the reading, you will be able to take care of your winter garden with confidence and peace of mind. Let’s take a look at what to plant in your vegetable garden in December and what tricks can help protect your vegetables from the cold. Let’s get started!
How to prepare the soil for winter crops
How can I prepare the soil for winter crops?
If you want to find out how to prepare the soil for winter crops, you have come to the right place. Proper preparation ensures good plant growth during the cold season, even when the soil seems dry and unable to produce.
Below is a list of steps to follow to prepare the soil in winter and start planting vegetables in December:
The first step is certainly to remove plant and weed debris from the previous season. This simple step reduces the risk of diseases and pests that are harmful to the health of the soil;
Once the clean-up is complete, take care of turning the soil (to a depth of at least 20-30 centimetres) to break up large clumps of soil and promote air circulation and water drainage. To succeed, you can help with a hoe or a gardening spade;
Mixing compost or well-rotted manure into the soil helps boost fertility and moisture-holding capacity. At the same time, compost provides plants with important nutrients for continued and safe development;
The next step is soil levelling, which is intended to ensure the creation of an even surface and facilitate the sowing or transplanting of plants;
- Step 5: Protection from the cold
We then come to the fifth and final step of soil preparation, which is very important for winter cultivation. If the soil is exposed to heavy frost, it is useful to use covers such as mulch or non-woven fabrics to protect the plants from the cold and maintain a more stable temperature.
Best winter crops
The best winter crops are able to withstand cold and low temperatures. At the same time, they are flexible, slow-growing vegetables that know how to respond to adverse weather conditions.
Even though growing vegetables in winter may seem difficult, it only takes a few tricks to achieve a good result and have fresh vegetables all season long. All that remains is for us to discover together a list of fruits and vegetables suitable for December, which can also be easily grown during the winter.
Vegetables to grow in December
Like the vast majority of vegetables, winter vegetables need a lot of care in order to grow without difficulty. Often, their development depends on the specific climatic conditions of the region you are in.
In colder areas, where the cold threatens to cause frost throughout the garden, it is a good idea to equip yourself with tools that can protect your vegetables. Greenhouses and protective tunnels are certainly a good solution; perfect especially for those who aim to transplant vegetables in the spring months.
Having said that, let’s find out which crops are ideal for December:
Some lettuce varieties, such as slicing lettuce or romaine lettuce, are on the list of cold-hardy vegetables for December. Beware, however, of watering, which should not be too heavy;
Spinach is a hardy vegetable and can withstand moderate cold. The advice is to grow it in well-drained soil, so that it gets the right amount of nutrients;
Various types of cabbage (such as cabbage, kale and kale) can be grown during December, precisely because they are resistant to cold and low temperatures;
- Swiss chard:
Swiss chard is cold-hardy and can easily be grown during the winter. They tend to grow quickly and reproduce throughout the season;
December is a good time to plant garlic cloves, which may start sprouting in the spring period;
Just like garlic, onions can also be planted at this time for later harvesting. If you are not in too much of a hurry and watch out for waterlogging, you can harvest onions in early spring.
Before planting your vegetables, always make sure that you choose cold-hardy varieties and adopt farming practices that are best suited to the climate in your area so that you get the best possible results.
Fruit trees to grow in December
Winter fruit is a bit of a cultivation ‘mystery’, precisely because many varieties of fruit trees are in a state of dormancy during the winter, stopped by the cold and the risk of frost.
However, it is possible to select specific types and plant certain fruit trees during this period, or – alternatively – work on preparing them for transplanting in the spring.
Here, then, are some fruit trees that can be grown or planted in December, depending on local conditions:
- Bare-root fruit trees:
In many areas, December is a good time to plant bare-root fruit trees, such as apple, pear, peach, apricot and plum trees. However, it is important to ensure that you choose varieties that are suitable for the climate of your area and prepare the soil properly;
Trees such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios can be grown or transplanted in December in some regions with milder climates;
- Lemons and oranges:
For farmers living in areas with a particularly mild climate, citrus trees such as lemons, oranges or tangerines can be planted in pots or in well-drained soil;
- Sowing seeds:
For those who aim to grow fruit trees by sowing seeds, December is a good time to plant fruit seeds such as pomegranate, kiwi or fig.
One must always remember that the choice of fruit trees depends mainly on the local climate and soil conditions.
Before planting or buying fruit trees, it is advisable to obtain information from a local nursery or gardening expert to get specific advice on growing fruit trees during the winter season in your area.
Aromatic herbs to grow in December
Aromatic herbs can be grown indoors or in a greenhouse during the winter, giving you access to fresh ingredients even during the cold season.
Here are some herbs that can be successfully grown in December, suitable for your winter gardening session:
Parsley can be grown in pots or indoor containers during the winter. It needs direct sunlight for at least 4-6 hours a day;
Although a warm weather plant, basil can be grown indoors in pots or containers near a light source, such as a sunny window or with the aid of artificial lights;
Mint is quite hardy and can also be grown in pots indoors. However, be sure to keep the soil moist and ensure good air circulation around the plant;
Thyme can be grown indoors in a pot with a good amount of sunlight. It requires well-drained and moderately moist soil;
Chives is a hardy aromatic herb that can easily be grown in pots. It needs adequate sunlight to grow well;
Sage is another aromatic herb that can be grown in pots or containers indoors, preferably in a location with good sunlight;
Although it requires a good amount of sunlight, rosemary can be grown in pots or containers indoors with good air circulation.
During the winter, it is important to pay attention to the specific needs of each plant, such as the amount of sunlight, watering and temperature. Therefore, be sure to provide the optimal conditions for healthy growth of your herbs during the cold season.
Growing techniques for December
Figuring out the best growing techniques for December can be tricky, especially when the temperature outside drops dramatically. It is certainly true that different techniques vary depending on the specific climatic conditions in your region and the type of crops you are trying to grow.
However, a useful tip for all crops is to protect vegetables from the cold outside through the use of appropriate covers, such as non-woven sheeting, plastic covers or mulch. We have discussed the main methods of crop protection in a previous article; a practical guide to keeping warm and protecting crops from frost.
If you are in an area with very cold temperatures, consider growing in a greenhouse or in containers placed indoors (inside the house) to provide your vegetables with a warmer, more controlled environment.
Here are some useful tips for withstanding the cold and taking care of your crops even during the winter:
During winter, plants need less water than in warmer seasons. Be sure to carefully monitor soil moisture and water the seedlings only when necessary to avoid dangerous water stagnation;
As you can easily imagine, cold wind can damage plants during the winter. To solve this problem, you can use physical barriers such as fences or screens that help protect crops from the wind and reduce the risk of damage;
During the winter months, it is advisable to reduce the amount of fertiliser added to the soil, especially since plants during this period are subject to significantly slower growth. Use slow-release fertilisers or well-matured compost to ensure a constant supply of nutrients;
Planning crops in advance allows you to adjust the layout of your vegetable garden for the coming season a little in advance. Once you have identified suitable crops for cultivation in spring and summer, you can plan your sowing and get ahead of the game;
The winter months are a great time for all farmers to perform maintenance on their gardening tools. Carefully clean and repair tools so that they are ready for use when the next growing season arrives.
By following these simple tips, we are confident that you will achieve a great result in a short time, without damaging the soil or plant health. Remember, however, to adapt them to the climatic conditions in your region and to pay close attention to any signs of disease or plant failure. As always: the sooner you intervene, the more likely it is that you will be able to solve the problem effectively.
In this short guide, we have discovered together what to plant in the vegetable garden in December and how to take care of the crops despite the winter cold. All that remains now is for you to put our advice into practice and get ready to welcome your new seedlings.
In spite of the difficulties, winter cultivation knows how to give just the right amount of satisfaction to those who show perseverance and determination.