Low maintenance crops for the cool season

You might be surprised to know that some people do love gardening, but they do not enjoy its regular maintenance. They would love to grow some of their food, but for whatever reason, they cannot commit to it. Before jumping to a conclusion and be judgemental, we need to understand them and give them options.

In this post, I am sharing my favorite easy-to-grow crops. I think every person who wants to start a vegetable garden should give these a shot. They require minimum to zero maintenance. They do, however, take a long time to mature, which is one of the reasons they are easy to grow.

Low maintenance crops for the cool season

#1 Garlic

Garlic is a fantastic crop for busy people and those who tend to forget their tasks. Plant in the fall before the first expected frost and let be. It will sprout and send out beautiful upright shoots. Its growth would stall at the beginning of the cool season, but then it will take off right after the winter equinox.

There is absolutely nothing to do but watch it grow through winter. It withstands frosts and freezes with no problems. Cold temperatures enable the formation of the cloves. It is also important to use organic or garlic that is designated for planting. Store-bought garlic is usually sprayed with sprout inhibitors to lengthen its shelflife. Using this garlic will, most likely, rot in the soil and fail to sprout.

Garlic planting time starts in early fall. October through November, southern gardeners are supposed to be putting their garlic in the ground. It will overwinter and grow through spring. Harvest time comes around the end of spring or early summer, depending on the variety.

growing onions in central Texas
Onions and Garlic

#2 Onions

There are different varieties of onions. The most common are spring onions and bulbing varieties, and we tend to forget about shallots and leeks, which have a milder onion flavor.

Like garlic, onions are another easy crop to add to the home garden. They grow in the cool season except for the bunching variety, which can grow all year round. Plant them in the fall and harvest in late spring or early summer, depending on the variety. For more details on how to grow onions check out this post.

Low maintenance crops for the cool season

#3 Potatoes

Yes, potatoes are easy to grow. In the south, they are grown twice, in the fall for late winter harvest, then in winter for mid-summer harvest. In addition to timing, the key to having a successful potato crop is to use seed potatoes or organic potatoes.

Seed potato is a potato that has been saved from a previous crop. It has not been sprayed with sprout inhibitors like store-bought potatoes.

There are several potato varieties you can grow. My favorite is Yukon Gold. It is has a great yield per potato spud and great flavor. More about growing potatoes can be found here.

How to grow broad beans in Central Texas
Fava Beans

#4 Fava beans

“Broad beans” is another name for fava beans. In the USA, most people grow them as cover crops. Fava beans are a cool-season crop. You can plant in the fall, October through November, for an early spring harvest. You can also plant it in winter for late to early summer harvest.

Fava beans are easy to grow. Direct sow the seeds and water regularly till they germinate. After that, the plant will take care of itself. You might protect them from long freeze spells. They might also need staking to prevent them from flopping over due to strong winds.

I do recommend growing broad bean to people who decide to put their gardens to rest in the winter. Being a legume, they will replenish the soil by fixing Nitrogen. Even if you are not a fan of this bean, use it as green manure for your garden. Here is more on how to grow broad beans.

#5 Annual Herbs

Since we are focusing on the cool season garden, we should mention some annual herbs that thrive in the cold. Parsley, cilantro, dill, and fennel are great winter herbs. They require no maintenance or special care except watering in case of a long dry spell.

Sprinkle seeds or get transplants, that’s not an issue with these herbs. Harvest the leaves as needed and the plant will keep growing through the season.

Once the warm weather is back, they will flower and attract all sorts of pollinators. Learn more about growing them here and here.

low maintenance crops for the cool season

#6 Annual flowers

Most people do not think of flowers as part of an edible garden. The reality is many flowers are used in cooking and traditional medicine. Calendula, dianthus, and pansies make a great addition to a salad bowl or some sweet desserts. Calendula is also well-known for making salve, which is used to healing ailing skin.

I have several posts about flowers, you may check them out here.

growing leafy greens in central texas

#7 Leafy Greens

After years of gardening, I came to realize that some leafy greens are easy to grow and do not have many problems like the rest of winter vegetables. I am talking about kale and collards. Now, do not get me wrong, the cabbage looper caterpillars do feast on them, but the damage is not too bad. These crops are Cut-and-Come-Again. The plant sends new growth constantly and harvest is continuous through the season.

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