Winter Vegetables

So I’m cleaning out by raised beds for winter vegetables…except my Korean zucchini which keeps producing.

In south Louisiana zone 9a, many greens can be grown in winter here as we typically don’t see temps much below mid-20’s occasionally. Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. and anything in that family (apparently they all come from cabbage evolutionarily speaking). Some peas as well and carrots, beets, etc.

I know hot temps make these greens bolt and get bitter, but what about on the planting side of things? I’ve always gotten a late start on planting (late September into November) and I want to get going sooner.

I’m wondering if the late summer heat will be detrimental to young plants. Obviously germination will happen fast. I don’t know if seedlings can handle 90+ daytime heat.

I just want to take advantage of the sun and warmth to get a good jump start on the plants before it gets cooler and have their adult life in winter and early spring.

Any experience or thoughts?

I’d either wait for a cool-down, or plant just prior to an approaching rain system that I had confidence would put some gentle soaking rains down. The heat isn’t a problem necessarily, but plants wilting in dry hot conditions is no good for those type veggies.
I’l like to plant some turnips and stuff myself…but not this week considering the weather.
Some years there is a rainy August and lots of cloud cover…not this year. Rain is average…
but this is the hottest week of the year. The high humidity is helping crops even though it feels miserable out in the sunshine and no breeze to speak of.

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At least seeds are cheap and I’m just a backyard grower. I guess I can take a chance with some of my seed and reserve some for if it doesn’t work out.

I am weeks away from seasonal temps dropping more noticeably (unless the death heat ridge doesn’t listen). Perhaps I’ll just start indoors or outdoors in trays with a water tray base to keep the bottom of the cells moist.

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Sounds like you know what to do already. Starting cabbage in a float bed or in a bed under canvass now–might get you transplants ready for when it does cool down.

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I need to do mine soon. But I’m not growing cabbage, broccoli, nor Cauliflower. They attract too many bugs and I don’t spray.
But if I don’t start them soon when it’s warm, they will be very slow growing when the cooler months are here.

That’s why I’m antsy to get an earlier start than I usually do. Over winter I don’t see pests here… But if I get it going now I may have an issue with them until December.

It’s a juggling act…

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@Shibumi . . I am in southern TN z7a and really enjoy the challenge of growing greens all winter long. Last year i started a bed of greens and carrots in my flat garden… mid Sept… and just after getting started good a mob of rabbits wiped it out.

I then started a new bed on the south side of my home… planted more seed and transplanted a few that the rabits did not wipe out completely… to the new bed.

I protected the new bed and it was right next to the house… where rabits dont normally come that close.

I had greens all winter… even survived a low if 3F and some very low temps during our extreme cold snap just b4 Christmas.

I planted more lettuce in that bed in January and February and it germinated and grew… and we continued to eat those greens until they bolted late May.

I need to get my bed ready for fall-winter-spring greens again… will probably start mine mid to late Sept.



Checked my pictures and my last harvest from the bed that I started last October was done on June 8th.

A couple pics below.

300 incadescent Christmas lights got it past our worst extreme cold 3F night and more.


Great setup @TNHunter

I really enjoy winter vegetables because there is no weeding and not nearly as much rainfall concerns here. Long slow winter rains are perfect for them. For many things you also harvest daily or several times a week instead of waiting for a veg to size and ripen.

I’m surprised any lights sold today generate enough heat to do the job, but obviously yours worked.

Here I don’t cover as we only get into the 20’s a handful of times each winter. The greens just laugh it off and stand right back up once it’s above freezing.

We do have teens sone winters but I can deal with that for a few nights. The biggest thing is it’s very rare to have a daytime that does not get above freezing, so the plants aren’t nearly as likely to be damaged.

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On the lights… if you get the LED type… no work… they make no heat.

Has to be incandescent they generate a little heat… about like a 40 watt bulb.

When we had that low of 3F… we had a few other nights before and after in the low teens… and I had two layers of floating row cover on the bed and some old blankets and bed sheets layered on…

I had to keep it completely covered for… best i remember 4 days… and when it finally warmed up enough to remove the cover… I was somewhat shocked to see they looked perfectly fine, still happy and healthy.

We ate salads from that bed from October 2022 until June 2023. Hundreds of great salads.

And like you said late fall and thru winter months no pest at all… late spring some started showing up.

If you can catch a week or week and half of warm up after a cold spell… you will be suprised how well lettuce and spinach will germinate and grow… even in the dead of winter. Worked here in TN… should for you too.


This pic was mid December … you can see how i had those lights suspended from the cattle panel structure.

This pic was taken on Feb 24… a new row of lettuce started early Feb. Just wait for a forecast of 7-10 days not too cold to start more greens. Mine germinated and grew well… a little slow but well.

The ground there slopes to the south… the large red brick wall reflects/radiates winter sun warmth. A good microclimate location like that helps.


Today I started my winter vegetables, 2 packets of Thomas Laxton and Early Frosty peas, whatever they are, that all available for now until stuff comes in the mail.
French breakfast and Korean radish. I also planted some leek bulbs I harvested in the spring, this way I will have leeks soon, not have to start over.

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I’ve been itching to plant but it was 106° here today! And not dry southwest hot but humid hot.

I think planting now would be fine as it will take a few weeks for the plants to get going. Should be better weather by then.

I have traditionally waited too long and the plants get off for a bit of a slow start.

Hoping warm weather early gets them growing so when it cools they are far along.


You should be fine starting seeds now. I recommend Swiss Chards, Durgesh 41 cauliflower, carrots, and leeks. Use a bug netting for brassicas for sure.


The bug netting definitely. I had every square inch of my Brussel sprouts this spring eaten…all the way to the ribs of the leaves.

No telling how many babies they had from feasting on my veggies.

I’ve never grown or eaten Swiss chard.

I’ve got 3 kinds of carrots, a small head lettuce, some salad green lettuce, beets (which I’ve never had much luck with). I’m going to try leeks from seed. Fennel from seed as well. First time.

Probably sugar peas. I don’t find snow peas satisfying enough.

Now to decide what goes in the ground and what goes in my raised beds.

Carrots did well in the ground with zero pest issues.

Bug netting will be easy in a raised bed… And probably a lot less critters waiting to hatch in that soil.

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I just got out my seed box, too many seeds waiting to be sprouted, lol. I found 2 more pea packets. But I’m looking forward to growing more arugula and mustard spinach, maybe some kale. I already have a collard green in the ground, it will sprout new leaves when the time comes.
I’m just going to broadcast mine, whatever comes. I also need to wait a few days for my melons to ripen, they are getting big.

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Soil Temperature & Germination:

Soil temperature is an important factor when germinating spinach. Spinach will germinate at soil temperatures between 40-75°F. Spinach takes up to a month to sprout at 40° while it may only take 5 days at 75° but at higher temperatures you may only see 30% germination rates. For best results soak seeds over night in water one week before planting. Allow to dry for a couple days and then store in refrigerator in a sealed container for 5 days. This will decrease germination time and increase germination rates.

Lettuce can tolerate a few days of temperatures from 80 to 85°F, provided that nights are cool. Lettuce seed will germinate at 35°F, but optimum germination is 70 to 75°F . If the plants are sufficiently hardened, they will withstand freezing.

I like a mix of leaf lettuce and spinach in a salad… and both will germinate and grow pretty well here in TN in the winter months. We often get a week or two with highs in the 50-65 range… lows in the 30s.or 40s. in Dec, Jan, Feb… it might take a week to 10 days for germination… but it does work. Growth will be a little slower… but hey its winter… you can wait a bit.


I have yam leaves for greens now, much better than spinach, less oxalic acid. But I’m going to sprout some lettuce, not the leaf kind.


Do you mean true yams like are grown in west Africa or are you referring to sweet potatoes?

Where I am from the word yam is a bit confusing. I didn’t even know yam was a different vegetable as here we call yams candied sweet potatoes that you buy in a can.

Dated a girl who was doing field work in Ghana and she told me a story of sharing a taxi with hundreds of pounds of yams… Had to look it up to see what she was on about. Ah… That’s what a yam is… They pound it to make foofoo which is their main starch like potatoes are for other countries.

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I bought them from Home Depot, so I assume they are sweet potatoes.

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