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winter prep

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winter prep

Post  dstubbs on 10/20/2010, 9:41 am

We've had frost a couple of times now, so I've harvested all my carrots, beets, leeks and zucchinis, and ripped up and tossed my pea and bean vines. This marks the end of my first year SFGing -- in the end, I did pretty well for a first time gardener, but I wish my growing season was longer as most things didn't produce much until the fall. Everything I planted grew into a plant, but I never did get any edible produce from my tomatos, peppers, or melons. I never got a head in my cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower. The gooseberry plant only got to a few inches -- a bit of a disappointment. I got one cute little ear of corn, but it took up a lot of real estate so I probably won't do corn again next year.

I'm wondering about what to do about putting the garden to bed for the winter. Prevaling opinion here in the forum points to pulling up the plants and covering the beds for the winter, but I just thought I should double check. My SFG is on my roof and I'm somewhat worried about snow load and extra weight as a result -- maybe a "covered wagon" might help shed snow, but I am worried that it won't stand up to the wind.

What veggie plants are perennials? I'm thinking the asparagus and strawberries, but I'm not sure. Should I leave them out all winter, or replant indoors in pots? What about the tomato and pepper plants? It took all summer to grow them so it seems a shame to rip them up.

Advice, anyone? I'm still on a steep learning curve!


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Re: winter prep

Post  dixie on 10/20/2010, 10:34 am

I'm not sure about your zone or how you started out in the Spring or your gardening experience, but here are some thoughts:

Did you start your seeds early indoors in pots under lights? Cukes, melons & lots of things don't like to have their roots disturbed, but I start them in individual pots inside to get a head start. You can also save a few days when sowing outside by pre-germinating your seeds in a damp paper towel inside where it's warm. I also had Dh make a cold frame over my early bed with a painter's drop cloth.

Your boxes will heat up faster than regular garden bed so you can push the planting date a bit sometimes. One thing I did this spring was take a chance with my corn & planted much earlier than recommended & got away with it, had early harvest. Even if we had had late frost, I had plenty of seeds to replant.

Peas like cool weather & have a fall crop growing now. Cabbage family prefers cool weather & you can start them early for spring, but I didn't have any success due to cabbage worms. I have a fall crop now & they are doing great. Unless your plants were completely frozen & mushy, you probably could leave them in the ground & see what happens. Even lettuce can stand frost (much to my surprise since if the store clerk puts lettuce in a bag with frozen food it turns to mush). Anyway, don't give up & try again next year.

pic of make-do cold frame - it could have been much shorter & worked fine. I know others have posted pics of their cold frames that were much nicer.


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Re: winter prep

Post  Megan on 10/20/2010, 8:27 pm

@dstubbs wrote:Advice, anyone? I'm still on a steep learning curve!

Leave in the asparagus and strawberries, cover with mulch. The tomatoes and peppers will not survive, though you might be able to extend the season a bit by covering for a while.

If you get close to a really bad frost or the wind is kicking up, and you have peppers still growing, you can try the trick I did: I cut down the whole plant close to the ground and hung it upside down indoors with a light on. My red mushroom peppers actually managed to turn red that way! Same thing for green tomatoes... you can use green tomatoes as-is, or ripen on a sunny windowsill.

Sorry you had some troubles, I did too. My melons didn't make it, nor did my pumpkins... and I got shorted on tomatoes as they started late. But congratulations on what seems like a great first year! Very Happy


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Re: winter prep

Post  Old Hippie on 10/20/2010, 11:44 pm

Sounds like you have done pretty well for the first year. Don't be discouraged. We all have things that don't turn out sometimes so chin up.

I am in on the opposite side of the country from you in BC in a Zone 3b. People who grow asparagus and strawberries here just leave them in the ground all winter and they are fine. Lois Hole gardening books talk about planting some things like carrots in the fall to give you a couple of week extra growing season in the spring but recommends planting thicker as you will lose some seed over the winter. Peas love the cooler weather which could explain why some things seemed to take off as fall came. Some things keep on producing even if you get some frosts......like peas, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. as long as they are only light frosts. My growing season is so short that I hate to give in so as long as stuff is still green and not falling over limp and black I leave it in. It is amazing how some plants just keep on so don't be too quick to pull things up. We have had some -5C a couple of times and my strawberries are still producing. Who'd a thought that would happen? LOL!

Start your tomatoes and cucumbers indoors in small poor flats ts to get a jump on the growing season next spring. Then transplant them outside when it warms up. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli tend to prefer cooler weather but they often need a long growing season. Maybe look for short season varieties to plant next year and you might have more success. Because I am in a zone 3B I always look for those that mature in the shortest amount of time otherwise I don't get any either. Corn likes lots of sun so I am really pushing the envelope trying to grow it here but had enough success with it this year that I will try it again. I used a short season variety. You might want to give it a try again with a short season variety if you can plant it in a part of your garden that gets at least 8 hours or more of sun a day.

If you make covers for your garden, try keeping them low. I know you can get some pretty wicked wind storms there in the winter so that is a concern. Are you able to get out on the roof in the winter to do any snow removal if you get an unusually heavy snowfall?

Best of luck to you. I have been watching your progress and look forward to seeing your posts and photos.


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Re: winter prep

Post  dstubbs on 10/21/2010, 8:38 am

Thanks, everyone for the good advice. I'll look for something to mulch the asparagus and strawberry with -- the only mulch I have on hand is red cedar, but I'm pretty sure it has dye in it so I only use that around flowers, not veggies.

I can still get to the roof in winter, if need be.


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Re: winter prep

Post  Megan on 10/21/2010, 6:30 pm

Dead leaves? You're welcome to clear out my back yard. Laughing


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Re: winter prep

Post  dstubbs on 10/21/2010, 6:39 pm

Thanks, but I'd need a closer source. Smile


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Re: winter prep

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