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Tips for a Winter Vegetable Garden

Tips for a Winter Vegetable Garden

Many people have questions regarding a winter vegetable garden. In coastal South Carolina we don’t usually have the extreme, sustained cold temperatures so there are more options than up north.  Oct. and Nov are good times to plant in our zone ( zone 8).

We recommend clearing the beds of all plant debris and if mulching it, removing to an area a distance away from your garden beds. This will prevent insects which bring disease that may be in the plant debris from getting into the soil.

Once you have cleared the beds it’s time to till the soil; it interrupts the life cycle of some insects and disease which will give you a healthier garden next year.   Plan out your garden first and then it’s time to plant – but what to plant?    Root vegetables are a good winter crop; for example onions, garlic, turnips or radishes are all good choices

Garden Maintenance

It is easier to maintain a winter vegetable garden than a summer.   As the temps cool the need for watering lessens – the sun losing it’s intensity and rainfall all contribute to this.  We recommend keeping an eye on temperatures if using an irrigation system.  The temps don’t tend to go below freezing here in coastal South Carolina but there are cold snaps which can cause damage to your irrigation.  Consider draining and closing your irrigation system and rely on rainfall and, if needed, use a hose to water

You can harvest your  crops as needed.   Many vegetables are picked and finished, such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and beets, some keep producing in winter. Greens, spinach, & lettuce for instance,  may  be cut a number of times to the ground and allowed to regrow in winter. As long as the temperatures stay cool, they will not be fine. Broccoli heads will continue to send out side shoots, and peas and fava beans will continue flowering and fruiting

Clemson University has an excellent graph for correct planting times throughout the state. The success of your vegetables is directly related to planting at the right time and choosing the correct vegetables for your region. Another option for over winter planting is a cover crop. These are not for eating or even admiring, their purpose is to enrich the soil. Many cover crops such as winter rye, oats, ryegrass or legumes work as a natural weed killer or nitrogen producer as well. As you can see there are many options to prepare a garden for winter which will help your growth the following year


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