Southern gardeners who enjoy a mild or no-frost winter can grow a bounty of produce in the cool months, and for many gardeners in the southernmost locations, this is the very best time to grow cool weather-loving crops! If you are a gardener in the upper regions of the South, where you have hard winters and don’t plant to grow through the winter, check out our blog on preparing the garden for winter.


Should Southern Gardeners Amend Soil In the Winter?

By now your summer crops have matured or faded. It is time to harvest and clear out those old plants, dig and cure those sweet potatoes and get your beds cleaned up. After a long summer your soil will be grateful for a nutrient refresh. This is a perfect time to incorporate a generous amount of well-rotted, high-quality compost into your beds. The hot and rainy summer in the south is a great time to compost, and by fall you should have plenty to work with. If you can’t find compost, you can top off containers or raised beds with some quality mix. 

Most southern gardeners will want to focus on cold-hardy crops that can withstand the occasional frost. Fortunately, there is an incredible range of cold weather-loving crops to choose from. Gardeners in mid to southern Florida and related climates can also grow more cold-sensitive crops if they are not expecting a frost or very late in the season. 


What Are the Best Crops To Grow Over Winter in Southern Gardens?

Members of the cabbage family, also known as brassicas, thrive in cool to cold weather and most can be reliably grown in a southern winter. Some fantastic Southern staples include mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and Napa cabbage

Asian greens are our favorite easy-to-grow wintertime crops. These are superbly well suited to a southern winter and extremely versatile in the kitchen. These crops will even take on a sweeter flavor as the weather gets cooler. There is an incredible array of different types, from the tasty tatsoi, to the beautiful Purple Lady bok choy or the delicious Yod Fah Chinese broccoli and Chijimisai

There are many delicious root crops to grow during a southern winter. Radishes are a reliable choice, the long season, fall radishes like Chinese Red Meat and Daikon radish will get large, juicy and sweet. You can also make several successions of small spring radishes like Plum, or French Breakfast

The very best time to grow many of our favorite greens in the south is in the cool seasons of fall winter and early spring. Crops like spinach, lettuce, kale, celtuce, arugula and Swiss chard are at their very best in a southern winter. 

Should you choose to grow some Alliums, or onion family members, be aware of day length sensitivity and chill hour requirements before selecting a variety. Short day onions can be grown over a southern winter; White Creole onion and Texas Early Grano are best. Bunching onions and Chinese chives are the fastest and easiest alliums to grow and will reward you with a pungent flavor, perfect for all of your recipes. Garlic can be tricky in parts of the south, if you are determined to try, be sure to select a variety adapted to fewer chilling hours and you can even mimic winter by placing your cloves in the fridge for a few months! Many southern gardeners report more success when growing a softneck variety. 

Flowers that thrive in a southern winter include pansies, marigolds, love-in-a-mist, bachelor's buttons, calendula and nasturtium