The Clever Homesteader’s Guide To What To Plant In December

Vegetables To Plant In December


I love tackling the question of what to plant in December because many newbie gardeners don’t realize the potential for growing fresh veggies even through the colder months. If I can help more fellow homesteaders extend their growing seasons and reap larger, longer harvests, it’s honestly a mission accomplished for me.

Before you get started on your December planting, you’ll need to know the best vegetables to plant in December, so let’s dive in.

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Hi, I’m Ryan

When considering what to plant in December, I opt for cold-hardy plants that can handle the occasional freezes in my mild North Carolina climate. I’ve also found that starting some indoor seedlings, while using row covers to protect my outdoor, direct-sow plants helps my winter garden to thrive.

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Wondering What To Plant In December?

What To Plant In December

Learning what to plant in December can help you squeeze in a late fall garden, get ahead on a spring garden, and simply enjoy some fresh winter produce. December is also the best time to plan out next year’s garden and set some New Year’s resolutions homestead-style.

Here’s a breakdown of the best vegetables to plant in December.

As you start planning out your December gardening calendar, keep in mind that some of these vegetables grow better indoors or in a greenhouse, and some will require a cold frame or cover to survive in colder climates. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll want to pick the cold-hardiest plants on this list — more on that below. But if you’re wondering what to plant in December in California or in a similarly mild climate (like mine in North Carolina), you might get away with any of the plants on this list.

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Seeds To Plant In December To Jumpstart Your Gardening Calendar

Seeds To Plant In December

Some seeds take a while to germinate and mature, some need to be cultivated with warm, indoor care in the winter, and some can thrive when planted in the ground, even in cold weather. Here is a list of seeds to plant in December to get a head start on your spring garden and ensure bountiful harvests.

Seeds To Plant In December

  • Onions
  • Mustard Greens
  • Chilis
  • Broad Beans
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Microgreens
  • Wasabi
  • Corn Salad
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Winter Gem Lettuce
  • Coffee Plant
  • Cress
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon

Caring For Your Indoor Seedlings In December

All plants are different, but there are some general guidelines for keeping your little seedlings happy and healthy in their indoor pots during the colder months. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Care Checklist For Indoor Seedlings

  • Give them as much sunlight access as possible.
  • Cut back on watering a bit. Less sun equals less water.
  • Don’t expose them to extreme temperatures — hot or cold.
  • Keep them clean and clear of bugs and fallen leaves.
  • Increase the humidity levels if possible.
vegetable seedlings

I like to grow indoor seedlings in my sunroom, but if you don’t have one and your house is well insulated, keeping seedlings on your windowsill gives them the best opportunity for sunlight on the shorter days in December.

FAQs About What To Plant In December

FAQs About What To Plant In December

Unsurprisingly, people have a lot of questions surrounding what to plant in December, as it’s an unlikely month to think about gardening. Below are a few of the most frequent questions and answers to cultivating a thriving December garden.

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What Are The Hardiest Winter Vegetables To Plant In December?

The cold-hardiest vegetables will be the ones that can handle below-freezing temperatures and (at least occasional) frosts and freezes. These plants include broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, radish, rhubarb, garlic, onion, leeks, kohlrabi, kale, and mustard greens, among others.

choosing garden vegetablesBecause North Carolina has fairly mild winters with minimal freezes, I can get away with planting all of these during December in my area of Charlotte, but homesteaders in harsher climates might need to use a greenhouse, cold frames, or simply grow potted vegetables indoors for the winter.

When you’re figuring out what to grow in December in your specific climate, you’ll want to determine your growing zone. Growing zones don’t have to limit what you can plant in December if you’re willing and able to do your planting indoors, but they can definitely affect your outdoor planting.

If your homesteading budget is large enough, installing a greenhouse really can help with any issues you have cultivating a thriving garden of December vegetables in your local climate.

As a cheaper alternative to greenhouses, you can build your own cold frames out of scrap lumber and clear plastic sheeting to keep your plants 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the outside air.

When you’re determining your climate zone, you’ll want to be specific to your location. For example, if you’re wondering what to plant in December in Arizona, the entire state spans three zones, and your growing options will vary depending on where in Arizona you call home.

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What Are Some Hacks For December Planting?

I’m often asked for different tricks to ensure the success of winter gardens in spite of the cold weather. Weather is a fickle friend, and no December gardening tips will be fool-proof, but here are a few tried and true ways you can give your winter vegetables their best shot.

Tips And Tricks For December Planting

  • Harvest winter vegetables as soon as they’re developed.
  • Keep your garden floor clean of fallen vegetables and plants to avoid disease.
  • Plant any seeds or transplants in well-watered soil, packing compost around them.
  • Insulate your overwintered crops with a dense layer of mulch and straw.
  • Consider a sunken greenhouse or other greenhouse idea.
  • Don’t forget to keep up your composting.
  • Use cold frames to insulate your outdoor crops.

Possibly the most important gardening advice I can give you for December is to use this month to plan ahead for the upcoming growing year. If you’re anything like me, you love working with seeds, plants, and soil, but we’re all busy, and a little planning goes a long way when it comes to saving you time, money, and energy.

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Decide which plants you’ll be growing from seeds and make sure you have all the seeds you need for the spring and fall gardening seasons. Take the time to organize your seed packets in a box or three-ring binder to make planting a breeze. Keep up your composting, and decide which crops to rotate and how best to care for your soil in the next year. Homesteading and gardening are all about taking care of nature so that nature can provide you with a harvest, whether that’s nurturing animals or cultivating plants — the rewards of this lifestyle are limitless.

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Learning what to plant in December and preparing for the new year of growing ahead will put you in the strongest possible position for rewarding harvests in the near future. Gardening is a fulfilling and rewarding pursuit, and there’s always work to be done in exchange for bountiful harvests.

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Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer to start indoor seeds or direct-sow outdoors in December?
  • What are the best vegetables to plant in December in your area?

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