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Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

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Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  genes on 1/31/2011, 3:16 pm

In reading through some of the older posts, I noticed a number of gardeners who were going to try their hand at 4 season winter gardening.

What kind of results did you get? Do you recommend it? Best veggies to grow?

And I've always wondered: do veggies really 'grow' in winter, or do they reach maturity before freezing weather arrives, and then just sit there until you are ready to use them?

Thank you
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  kiwirose on 1/31/2011, 3:29 pm

This is going to be a very interesting thread.

I accidentally learned this winter that my kale stops growing when it gets too cold. It is perfectly intact and when it warms up it starts growing again. all theliterature says you can harvest it by unburing it from the snow it is that hardy.

I also have one lone cauliflower that is still alive (I have no idea why when every other one died) - not growing but will have a head start when it warms up.

Next year I will work with a hoop house over winter and extend growing or have a continuous harvest of already grown spinach, kale, perhaps collards and hopefully a few other things - any other ideas would be fab. I don't have a double deep portion of my garden yet, but might do for a fall crop of carrots and parsnips too... not done those before - seems like some of the root veges do well in winter - probably just storing live, rather than growing - just speculation.

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Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  happycamper on 1/31/2011, 5:06 pm

This was the first year that I tried Winter Gardening. My observations so far are that Bok Choi, Mustard Spinach, Beets and Parsnips are all still alive. The bed was covered with cheap 3 mil plastic and PVC hoops during freezes and vented daily when temps were above 48 degrees. When temps were lower, I kept the bed covered for up to 3 days without venting. I don't know if this was a good or bad thing since this was my first attempt but nothing died even when it was 18 degrees and didn't go above freezing for up to 4 days. The plants stopped growing around December but have started again. Also please note that I didn't have enough vermiculite and planted in 100% compost per the old method for this one.

In an uncovered 4x4 with MM the Rutabaga's, Salsify and Beets have survived and are starting to re-grow. This gives me hope for next year.

I also would appreciate any feedback as to what works and what doesn't so I can use the other 4x4 next winter. Happy gardening to all!
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  quiltbea on 1/31/2011, 8:37 pm

Some things will winter thru without any hoophouse, like parsnips. But they should be harvested early in the spring before the tops start to green up again or the flavor will be lost. Also, the fall-sown garlic will overwinter just fine.

Others would need some help thru the winter, such as a hoophouse.

I plan to try it this fall myself, with carrots, spinach, claytonia, mache, radishes, arugula, and mizuna. It'll be an experiment and I hope for some success, if not all of them. The idea is to cover the plants even inside the hoophouse or coldframe for added protection.

If Eliot Coleman, the author of Four Season Harvest, can do it in mid-Maine, anyone can do it. You just have to choose your crops wisely for your zone.
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  miinva on 1/31/2011, 9:50 pm

Eliot Coleman is my inspiration too Smile I'm hoping to give it a try. I was pretty half-hearted about it this year and steamed the few sprouts that I got when I forgot to vent it Sad

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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  kiwirose on 1/31/2011, 10:19 pm

@happycamper wrote:
The bed was covered with cheap 3 mil plastic and PVC hoops during freezes and vented daily when temps were above 48 degrees.

was the 48 degrees specific to your region, from some literature or trial and error? Only reason I ask is I have no idea - but in NC today we had highs in the low 40's but I think the current thought is that we will be up to 70 on Wednesday - I have no idea where the cut off is for venting.

That being said - I did remove the original hoop house all together for a few days over th eweekend - warm also - so that I could change out the plastic for a slightly larger version - I cut it a little short.

Thanks for the guidelines - I will use 48 until I decide otherwise Smile

I have also started collecting small plastic containers (like water bottles and gallon milk jugs)to cover my plants inside my hoophouse for the really cold freezes to help the smaller plants out.

I think I need to check out Eliot Coleman too...

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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  boffer on 1/31/2011, 10:34 pm

I've used a cold frame for five years now. The first year, on my way to work one morning, I guessed wrong about what the weather was going to be for the day. When I got home, all 18 squares were fried. When in doubt...vent!

I used to have a thermometer inside the cold frame. When it broke, I didn't replace it. If I get in my car, I have a good idea what the temp is inside the cold frame.

In my climate, if there is a chance of sun, I vent. On cloudy days, I don't.
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  Blackrose on 1/31/2011, 10:52 pm

@boffer wrote:In my climate, if there is a chance of sun, I vent. On cloudy days, I don't.

Sometimes simple is the best way to go. sunny
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Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  happycamper on 2/1/2011, 12:14 am

Kiwirose, I attended two free gardening classes last fall offered by a couple that have been running a CSA for 20 years near Hillsboro, OR entitled "Cold Frames and Hoop Houses" and "Winterizing your Garden". They told attendees to vent at 50 degrees (zone 8 in Oregon). I chose 48 degrees so that I wouldn't bake everything (lol). I was fortunate enough to receive a list of their favorite winter crops that don't need protection and a list that "hate the rain" and do well with raised beds and hoops. (they used 6 mil plastic). They were big fans of Elliot Coleman, Seattle Tilth and Steve Soloman and provided them as references for those wanting to 4 season garden.

I agree with what Blackrose wrote, "when in doubt, vent!". Very Happy

Sorry, Boffer wrote it!
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 2/1/2011, 7:56 am

Good Morning,
Like others I have puttered at 4 season gardening. I have found that 3.5 season gardening works best for me. I need a break from chores and time to day dream about the next years garden, which is difficult to do when something is always in the ground. Last year I had 2 cold frames, this year I just used one. I found the cold frames good for over wintering plants, so they could get a head start on spring. I did not get a lot of food during the winter. On years where Mother Nature is kinder, I plan on planting a winter crop of spinach, carrots and swiss chard. Those plants can take a light snow in my neck of the woods and when spring comes they are usually ready about 1 month before any spring planted crops. Winter gardening also requires planting sometime in late August or September, which is just not happening around here. That is Tomato canning season. I would love to hear from others as well.

Patty from Yorktown
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  Lavender Debs on 2/1/2011, 9:09 am

@Patty from Yorktown wrote:snip..... Like others I have puttered at 4 season gardening. I have found that 3.5 season gardening works best for me. ...
I like that.
School hit me hard in late August/early September. Then there were hunting trips. My winter garden was nothing to write about. As of today (Feb. 1) there are leeks and carrots. The carrots need to come out to give spring peas a chance and the leeks should be lifted to transplant and given a wee bit more shoulder room. I try to do a proper job of thinning them in fall but by February it is obvious that my eyes are not what they used to be.

Deborah...who hopes to celebrate this first day of February by spreading lovejoy mix all over the toybox and pots.
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 2/1/2011, 9:40 am

I read a great article (can't find the link...sorry) that mentioned you have to plan for winter gardening in the early fall. You stagger your plantings, knowing you will get cold weather that will virtually stop growth. You have a lot of space devoted to cold hardy veggies. That way, once you harvest something, it has plenty of time to grow back because you have many, many other squares to harvest from, too.

This, with a hoop house, got this guy through winter in zone 6b (Nashville, TN). He showed a picture of a thermometer inside the hoop house reading 50F while you could see ice on the plastic. He was saying the outside temps were in the single digits. Granted, his spinach and lettuce weren't growing quickly inside during that weather, but he mentioned they bounced back fairly quickly during some sunny days and a little warmer weather.
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Winter gardening?

Post  ander217 on 2/1/2011, 10:18 am

I'm not sure if this qualifies as winter gardening, but I pulled back the straw mulch from my potato onions last week to see how they were doing, and the tops were green and growing even under the straw. If I'd wanted, I could have pulled some of them for green onions.

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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

Post  WardinWake on 2/1/2011, 4:48 pm

@ander217 wrote:I'm not sure if this qualifies as winter gardening, but I pulled back the straw mulch from my potato onions last week to see how they were doing, and the tops were green and growing even under the straw. If I'd wanted, I could have pulled some of them for green onions.


Howdy Folks:

Today I pulled a carrot from last springs planting and low and behold it had new green tops just starting to grow. We did not mulch and it shows that carrots can survive some nasty (for us) cold and snow.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.
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Re: Winter Gardening Feedback, Please

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