With the right combination of timing, vegetables and care, you can cultivate your own winter garden that will produce in the colder months. To enjoy fresh grown veggies this winter, you should begin planting now.
According to experts, the term winter garden is a misnomer. The reason why it’s called a winter garden is the plants are mature, or ready to eat, when the winter months come around and are able to tolerate chilly rains and big drops in temperature. Planting for a functional garden needs to take place in mid to late summer.
For the best garden, first you must figure out a few things; what you want to plant, how much time the plants need to grow and how much space is available. If any of your summer plants have wilted, you should remove them now to make room for new plants.
Some plants like beets, carrots, brussel sprouts and cauliflower take 90 days to mature. Others like leek, turnip, collards and perennial herbs take 60 days to mature. Chives, bunching onions, broccoli and spinach need only 30 days to mature. More information about fall/winter plants is available at SuburbanHomesteading.com.
Planting in the fall
If you don’t plant in the late summer for winter veggies, don’t worry; you can build a cold frame or hot beds.
A cold frame covers your crops, protecting them against seasonal winds and frost damage. They can be made from various materials like wood, cement block, fiberglass and more so long as they include a transparent face. The good news with these, says SavvyGardener.com , is you can use a cold frame year round, many gardeners use them for seed propagation in the spring and early summer.
Hot beds heat your plants from underneath by electric or steam heated elements. A more natural alternative is fresh manure; it absorbs and retains the heat from the sun for a long time. SavvyGardener.com provides further schematics and ideas on this subject.
And the best way to apportion the right amount of space for your winter garden is by diagramming your existing plot(s) on graph paper. Make sure you note which current plants are at or near ready for removal, how much space they occupy and where you plan to plant the winter’s harvest suggests IGrowVeg.com . Keeping this level of organization will pay off as you move from season to season and harvest to harvest.
A winter garden is a delightful way to enjoy fresh produce in the cold months. Visit a local garden center to find out what you can start planting now for fall to winter harvest.