3 Essential Tips for Winter Gardening

Are you one of those people who longs for a fresh salad and a colorful vegetable plate in the dead of winter? Are your green thumbs turning brown from the months of November till April? If you identify with either one of those statements then you’re what we might call a winter gardener. No, we’re not talking about someone who grows a few herbs in their greenhouse during the colder months. We mean someone that trudges out there in the snow with their winter coat on and tries to cultivate. None of us at Workman’s Friend knew anything about this unique type of gardening until we began researching. Since then we’ve learned there are three essential steps to a successful winter harvest: what, how and when.

Related: Tip for Your Winter Fishing

1. What to plant?

If your idea of a winter garden includes tomatoes, cucumbers and melons then you won’t see much popping up out of the ground this season. Instead, you should plant what industry insiders call cold-tolerant crops. These types of crops are divided into slow-maturing, which include beets, carrots and onions, middle-maturing such as radishes and turnips and finally quick-maturing crops which are arugula and endive. Which type of garden you choose to plant will depend entirely on the region of the country you live in.

Remember before you do any planting apply a thin layer of Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream, to your hands. They will keep them moisturized as you dig, plant, and weed.

2. How to protect your plants?

If you’re thinking that you might need a range of high tech devices to protect your plants from the elements and ensure they grow, that’s not true. The simplest and least expensive protective items are usually the most effective. In fact, most of them can be added to an existing garden.

At Workman’s Friend our research has shown us that cold-tolerant crops don’t necessarily need warmth, often heat can do more harm than good. Instead they need to be sheltered from the wind, cold, excessive moisture, and drifting snow. Protective devices used in winter gardening can often produce hot and sweltering conditions thereby killing plants on a sunny day, despite the outdoor temperature. That’s why the type of protective item you choose must have a way to provide ventilation to your garden. Gardening experts advise beginners to err on the side of too cold rather than too hot. Start with the least amount of protection for your plants and then add more depending on whether or not you think it’s needed.  Often a combination or protective gear works well for winter gardens. From hot beds, cloches, cold frames, unheated greenhouses, to mulch and row covers, there are many protective items or season extenders as they’re known within the industry, to help your garden thrive.

Don’t forget before you head outside to install one of your protective devices, make sure you’ve applied a layer of Workman’s Friend Skin Barrier Cream. It will not only keep your hands hydrated but it will also make the clean up after you’ve been working outside that much easier. A simple wipe with a cloth or rinse and all the mud and dirt is gone. In its place is a pair of clean and soft hands.

3. When to plant your garden?

When to plant your garden depends on where you live in the U.S. Take a look online at the USDA’s hardiness zone map. This will indicate when to plant and the factors that will affect your zone during the colder months. The answer to a successful winter garden is to know when to plant before the first killing frost. Use the dates and suggestions provided by the USDA as guidelines. Then go ahead and plant, often the process of trial and error is the only way to learn what works best for you in your winter garden.

Regardless of when you plant, always remember to apply a layer of Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream. It will moisturize them during the driest months of the year.

Dig in!

Gardening in the coldest months of the year, with blowing snow and temperatures below freezing might not be for everyone. But if you are someone who enjoys a challenge and is curious about this type of planting, you may very well be rewarded with bunches of colorful vegetables and delicious salads during the cold, dark days of winter.


Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is light-weight and odorless product. A simple application of our non-greasy, formula means your hands will be moisturized and protected from common irritants.

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