What to do in the vegetable garden in winter?

From November until mid-February, the days are very short and temperatures are low. Frosts are rife in many regions, those located in the south being more or less spared. We take advantage of sunny days to take care of the vegetable garden, but it is also necessary to harvest, dig, shelter the vegetable crops and sow under shelter. In winter, the gardener should therefore not keep both feet in the same shoe because his efforts during the off-season will depend on his future harvests. Let’s do a check in.


This is fundamental in order to obtain a very crumbly earth, easier to work with but also perfectly ready for spring sowing. By digging the clay soil of the vegetable garden in winter, the cold will be able to decompose it. On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to have naturally friable soil, digging is not necessary. A simple lifting with the fork is more than enough to allow penetration of the cold. Of course, we only dig the areas of the vegetable garden that are not planted.

Harvest the last vegetables

It is necessary to harvest vegetables that fear the cold so that they do not suffer from winter frosts. Those that cannot withstand cold above -4 ° C must be protected by a winter cover such as winter salads or with a good layer of straw. This is the case with strawberries. These are absolutely necessary precautions so as not to lose the fruits of your labor. Fortunately, not all vegetables are this fragile. This is the case, for example, with crucifers which show good resistance to low temperatures and which can therefore be harvested as and when required.

Avoid diseases and fertilize

When the arrival of spring is only a few days away, it is not necessary to remove the perennial protections put in place because frosts are still to be feared. The gardener must keep an eye on the calendar, because as long as the ice saints have not passed, there is indeed a risk of cold snap, namely May 11, 12 and 13. We must therefore be able to react quickly and put the winter cover and mulch back in place in the event of a sudden drop in temperature.

It is also during the winter that one must be vigilant about the risks of mold vegetable plants. All the leaves that have suffered from humidity and cold must be removed, whether they are simply damaged or, even worse, black or rotten, so as not to spread contamination as soon as the sunny days return. Itou for totally dead leaves due to their drying out, they must be deleted.

At the same time, it is important to promote the installation of macro-organisms so that the plants benefit from a highly fertile soil. We therefore put compost at the foot of the crops in order to boost recovery. If you want to save money while using a natural solution, you can prepare a manure yourself (nettle manure, comfrey manure…).

Butter the vegetables

This action is essential for all the vegetables already in place when winter is coming. Broad bean, early peas, fennel, garlic, leek, escarole, celery are among those that we took care to sow during the fall. The ridging consists of raising the level of the earth at the foot of the plants, so as to form a hillock. This is not complicated but is essential to create a protective layer and do more bleach the vegetables. We can also note that the ridging is essential for all the plants of the vegetable garden which do not support stagnant water.

This way, furrows and mounds can be alternated over a whole row of plants, but it is also beneficial to butter plants in isolation. Earth is brought to the base, being careful not to damage the roots and as the plants grow, a regular addition of soil is essential so that the mound represents approximately half the height of the foot. This way, strong winds are less likely to uproot the plantations.

Plant under frame

The frames are essential for sowing vegetables and aromatic herbs to be harvested in the spring. We can therefore use forcing bells, Has tunnels or to windows to make a greenhouse and protect carrot plants, certain cabbage (broccoli, cauliflower), chervil and parsley from cold and snow.

But beware, it is essential to think about ventilate your frames on sunny days. This helps to prevent fungal diseases caused by filamentous organisms or by fungi that thrive from excess moisture. They are also called the fungal diseases.

These diseases are also favored by too close the plants. That is why we always recommend keeping a certain interval between each of them. This allows them to breathe and the foliage is better airy. Opening a greenhouse during the sunniest hours in winter is essential because it avoid condensation which promotes rot. After about two hours, the greenhouse or the frame should be closed so that the plants can take advantage of the stored heat.

Plant in the ground in winter

Some vegetables and herbs can be planted directly in the ground during the off-season. This is for example the case of gray shallots, essential for the preparation of succulent dishes, tarragon but also spring onions, note however that the latter is planted in the winter in the ground only in southern regions. It is also necessary to take care to install the vegetables in a perfectly drained soil because their roots must not bathe in water, especially in winter, and this, whatever the department in which one lives.

Protect garden animals

We put shallow tubs in the sun and fill them with water for the birds to come drink and bathe. At the same time, it is important to hang tall balls of fat and seed dispensers for birds of the air in different places.

It is also necessary to take care of the pond in which we raise pretty fish. The important thing is to prevent the water from freezing at all costs. To do this, we deposit bundles in the water, which will allow the fish not to be trapped in the ice and to have sufficient oxygen, especially if a pump has not been installed. You should not hesitate to break the class here and there as soon as necessary, taking all the necessary precautions to avoid falling into the pool.

Small piles of stones are also left in the garden to accommodate hedgehogs and an insect hotel is set up.

Clean the aisles

Now is the time to take care of all the small alleys that allow you to move easily in the vegetable garden. We use a thermal weeder to eliminate weeds that grow in walkways or between slabs. The manual weeding is also effective. The main thing is to ban chemicals.

Shelter citrus fruits

Whether in a cold greenhouse (lemon tree) or a hot greenhouse (orange tree), citrus fruits must be brought in just before winter because frosts can be detrimental to them depending on the region. Regular monitoring is required, particularly at the level of mealybugs that should be treated with a cotton ball soaked in methylated spirits and black soap.

If you do not have a room to shelter your citrus fruits, it is absolutely crucial to protect each shrub but also the pots by using several wintering sails that are removed when the outside temperatures rise to around 5 ° C. .

Theanticipation is essential if you want to be able to enjoy your harvests in winter. End-of-year gardening is therefore planned for several months in advance. With good organization, you can harvest crosnes, endive, parsnip, salsify, leeks (fall and winter), swede, Jerusalem artichoke and Jerusalem artichoke in winter. But some other vegetables will have had to be sown in the summer to be tasted in winter, such as spinach, sprout, broccoli, winter radish, lamb’s lettuce, turnip, certain varieties of lettuce or even chicory.

Who says the gardener has nothing to do in winter? Gardening is in any case an occupation which is good for morale, especially when certain health problems force us to stay at home …