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Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

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Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  kputikka on 6/19/2011, 3:37 pm

I am reading some of the other posts on the forum where they talk about winter crops?! Is it just plain too cold here in MN for winter crops? It can get to -30 degrees some winters here... Looking for an expert to chime in.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  camprn on 6/19/2011, 3:44 pm

For winter growing you will need a green house, heat and lights. Now, you can seed stuff in your regular garden in late fall and have it start growing as soon as the snow melts in spring. Onions, garlic, spinach and the like can be planted in late October for spring head start. Very Happy

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  mijejo on 6/19/2011, 3:51 pm

@camprn wrote:For winter growing you will need a green house, heat and lights. Now, you can seed stuff in your regular garden in late fall and have it start growing as soon as the snow melts in spring. Onions, garlic, spinach and the like can be planted in late October for spring head start. Very Happy


I want to learn more about that as soon as possible. Let's all discuss what can be seeded in late Fall, what can continue to "over winter", and anything else that we need to know soon to stock up on seeds and appropriate equipment.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  HouseofWool on 6/19/2011, 3:59 pm

I am in Wisconsin and have to say that planting onions early this years seems to have backfired as many of the plants have put up flowers because of the crazy temperature swings we have had this year.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  boffer on 6/19/2011, 4:04 pm

If you have something to add, use the quote button; I think we should all be able to add to the list that way.


CAN BE STORED IN THE GROUND, HARVESTED AS NEEDED
(if you can keep your ground from freezing with mulch or other means)

potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips


CAN HANDLE BEING FROZEN ON THE STALK

broccoli, brussel sprouts

ON THE STALK, NEEDS PROTECTION FROM FREEZING

lettuce, spinach


PLANT IN LATE FALL FOR SPRING/SUMMER HARVEST

onions, garlic

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  middlemamma on 6/19/2011, 4:45 pm

I planted potato onions and garlic around Halloween last year and they are so beautiful. They were the first things to pop up green in the garden and warmed my heart earlier than the sun warmed the soil.

www.wegrowgarlic.com is a garlic farm that grows Garlic in MN (or maybe Wisconsin) but one of those freakishly cold places, so they are a great resource for the garlic.

Here is a couple links about the potato onions.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3900-sese-has-large-potato-onions-for-sale
http://www.southernexposure.com/yellow-potato-onion-hill-mother-or-pregnant-onion-8-oz-p-873.html

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/19/2011, 8:59 pm

Hey guys,

I am pretty far south in the region, so I will need your help from up north. We can tackle this together this year, though. I will put something together regarding the basics to season extension and overwintering and the requirements. We will, however, have to banter a bit back and forth about how low our temps get and where we are so we can approach this a bit scientifically. I, personally, only want to get a few weeks either side of my seasons. But, obviously, some of you want to make a run at winter gardening where it isn't supposed to be possible. The requirements will be different for each of our "houses."

If boffer and staf74 see this, I could sure use their help....as well as anyone else that wants to jump in.

Here are a couple of links, too, that may help you prepare mentally in advance. But, if you can get me fall frost dates so I know better when we need to start focusing on this it would be even better.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6953-heated-hoop-houses?highlight=hoop+house+experiment

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t5254-hoop-house-issuehow-to-solve-please?highlight=hoop+house+experiment


This is something I had planned on working on already. But, if we all put our heads together, we can make this a learning experience for everybody.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  madnicmom on 6/23/2011, 4:02 pm

carrots?! Really, that is music to my ears. As for keeping our beds from freezing, would surrounding the boxes with straw bales work? I'm in cincy region. We get to single digits with wind chills of 0 to a little negative, at times.

I had planned on overwintering garlic.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  madnicmom on 6/23/2011, 5:03 pm

i found this blog post to be very interesting.
http://www.oeffa.org/tips.php?sjt=winter

looks like I'll be looking for big rocks while the kids are swimming in the local swimming hole in a creek.


Last edited by madnicmom on 6/23/2011, 5:13 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add content.)

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  staf74 on 6/23/2011, 8:18 pm

The winter gardening threads always get me to bite....as BBG alluded to, look at the threads he posted and read over what we did for winter season extension.

These threads might give you some additional ideas also...

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t4622-winterizing-experiment?highlight=winterizing+experiment

and....
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t4686-winterizing-update?highlight=winterizing+experiment

For me, you really need to get the Eliot Coleman book, "The Winter Harvest Handbook." THIS IS A MUST FOR WINTER GARDENING IMO.

This book will give you the actual science that it is indeed possible to do it even in your zone (he too deals with staggering negative temps in Northern Maine) but you will have to build a good knowledge base and set-up BEFORE the winter sets in, so great time to get going, even if the winter seems so far away right now.

Another very important thing to consider with winter gardening is that you will get very little but probably NO growth from any plant once the day length drops below 10 hours. Depending on your latitude that might be a good part of winter. So you need to plan and get the crops that CAN tolerate cold temps mature and in enough numbers to harvest from them throughout the winter. The important distinction here is that you are not relying on the crop growing throughout the winter because without supplemental light, it will not....but rather that you have a large mature crop of hardy plants you started in the fall that will survive through the relatively mild climate inside your protection that you will harvest from throughout the winter.

Hope this helps.....

I am only in SC on a latitude of 35 degrees and will try two beds this year full of Spinach and Kale (crazy cold hardy). I'm hoping to harvest all through this winter. Eliot Coleman even gives you the specific varieties of the cold hardy plants that do the best in frigid temps.

Good luck.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  staf74 on 6/23/2011, 11:11 pm

This will help calculate when your day length, for wherever you live, starts to drop below the "magic 10 hour growth threshold" in the fall and when it resumes in the early spring.

There's a few of these daylight calculators out there but I like this one.

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=159&month=11&year=2011&obj=sun&afl=-11&day=1

I chose Minneapolis but you could find a closer locale of course. Minneapolis drops below 10 hours on or around November 4/5th and resumes above 10 hours on or around Feb 6th. That's quite a long time but will certainly help with your planning. If you then count back from that date around 50 days for spinach to mature (that's on the longer side but added a few extra days for maturity as you are doing it in the colder temps) so that puts your last possible planting date for spinach from seed, to make it through the whole winter, at around the middle of September. Using transplants from a nursery will up that to perhaps October but most nurseries will not be planning on business at that time and so I'm guessing you won't find any to purchase and your own set-up will be the only option.

Now it also just so happens that the first frost date for Minneapolis is on average 9/15 so you are going to have to grow that entire crop in a protected greenhouse or hoop house type of environment (at least for night-time initially) to get the growth you want. Great table below for seeing first/last frost dates for your area.

http://www.victoryseeds.com/frost/mn.html

You can certainly start earlier than 9/15 but even with a spinach crop planted earlier, you are going to run into that first frost date and will need protection if temps get below 30 for spinach (it will take less than that but no sense stressing it out too much and slowing growth). Below 26 and you risk death.

I know I have assumed a lot here (using Spinach as an example and choosing Minneapolis) but you can use the links provided to get an idea of how you might plan for a winter garden. For most of MN winter plantings, depending on crop, one might begin as early as late August to mature in time and be of harvesting size over the winter.

That is only 8 weeks away !!!!! Crazy huh.....and summer has only begun !!!!

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/23/2011, 11:51 pm

Told you Staf was good, didn't I? Great posts, dude.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  quiltbea on 6/24/2011, 5:49 pm

Winter gardening in my neck of the woods, Zone 5a in Maine, means starting cold-hardy crops in late fall and allowing them to grow into early winter, maybe up to December.
The needs are a hoop house within a hoop house for double protection from cold or a coldframe with insulation around the sides and over the top.

Things like spinach, claytonia, Arugula, Corn Salad/Mache, Mizuna, Tokyo bekana, and a winter lettuce, like Winter Density, January King Cabbage, Needles and Purple Cape Cauliflowers, Falstaff Brussels Sprouts and a few other cold-hardy greens can be sown in the beds.

The other thing is to put herbs in pots to take indoors and also to allow a tomato sucker or two to take root and plant in a pot to get some tomatoes indoors, if you have lights or a very sunny window handy. A small determinate would be best for a potted tomato.

The other alternative is to grow a few things that over-winter. They can be buried in the snow thru the winter season and in the spring they are the first to pop up their pretty heads and go green. Things like Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Maystar cauliflower. Parsnips are better the next spring after being in the cold ground all winter.

If you hunt the fall seed catalogs, you can find many crops of interest for winter crops.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  madnicmom on 6/24/2011, 11:24 pm

Thanks, Cincinnati hits 10 hours on Nov 16th and falls from there. It back to 10 hours on Jan 26th. First frost date is 10/13. thanks for all the info.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  madnicmom on 6/29/2011, 2:19 pm

thank you Staf74 for the book recommendation, I picked it up yesterday afternoon and can't put it down. It's a wealth of information.

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

Post  staf74 on 6/29/2011, 11:35 pm

No worries Madnicmom !!!

That book is sooo much more than winter gardening isn't it? I just love his style.

QB makes great points also and so many ideas for specific varieties. BBG - right back "atcha" pal, I learned through much trial and error with you. In fact, this is why this forum is ace. People sharing info that helps to make real change across this country in so many different climates for an awesome cause: growing food and becoming more independent AND healthy.

I just love it.

Now its your job to pay the tip forward and get another out there to read some Eliot Coleman......AFTER they have read Mel's books at least TWICE first of course Very Happy

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Re: Its early but I'm curious...Winter gardening possible in MN?

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