A healthy dose of winter gardening can transform that barren landscape of yours into a festival of light and color. While springtime favorites are on their long winter break, many winter plants, including vegetables, can liven up your garden during cold winter months.

If you plant vegetables in the fall -- before the weather turns really cold -- you'll have an assortment of veggies by the time winter comes around. If you plant them directly in the earth and not in the protection of a greenhouse or a cold frame, they'll probably only last until the first serious frost, but that should be long enough to supply you with plenty of produce. Knowing when that first frost is meant to hit your specific area is a good way to determine the best time to plant the vegetable. Figure out how many days the particular vegetable needs to mature and then count back from the frost date to find the ideal planting time. Check your seed packet for the number of days the vegetables need to mature. If your fall/autumn season is long enough, you may even be able to plant and grow two crops of vegetables before the frost hits.

Some hardy winter vegetables that are easy to grow and that will yield an impressive bounty are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce and spinach
  • Leek and onions
  • Turnip

For best results when planting winter vegetables, place the plants alongside a south-facing barrier, like the wall of your house. This shields the plants from winds and cold weather, and gives them added time to reach maturity.