Winter gardening is actually much easier than summer gardening because you only have a handful of plants to look after instead of endless rows and beds. Instead of being labor-intensive, winter gardening is joy-intensive. After all, what's more fun than a fresh salad from the garden in January?
There are three simple strategies that I use for successful winter gardening:
Choose plants that can tolerate frost such as kale, root crops, grains, spinach, brassicas, mache, cilantro and parsley.
Plant winter crops in early Autumn to give them a strong start before the really cold weather sets in. The exact time will depend on where you live. In Charlotte, North Carolina, I begin to plant winter crops in late September.
Provide protection such as glass cloches or cold frames made from old windows. If you give them a little protection, plants such as cilantro, parsley, and greens will thrive. Root crops are already protected by the soil, so they don't need any additional help from us.
I live in USDA zone 8b, so winter gardening is much easier here than further north. However, you can successful grow winter crops even in colder regions. You'll just have to choose your plants and plan your protection more carefully.
If your climate is too harsh to do anything outside in the winter, then you can still grow some herbs and greens in pots in a South-facing window. Basil can't handle cold weather or frost, but it will thrive in a sunny window at any time of year.