Tips For Vegetable Gardening In Winter

Just wanted to draw your attention to the benefits of winter vegetable gardening. Have you considered it? You should. There are many places around the globe that have very short growing seasons and must be adapted to produce vegetable garden crops under these circumstances. Nova Scotia is one of those locations. Here, writer and gardener Niki Jabbour shares some tips and tricks for getting your garden to produce even when most gardeners might pack it in for the season. Her article appears in HalifaxNewsNet.

Tips For Vegetable Gardening In Winter

With the arrival of autumn in just a few days, it’s officially time to start thinking about protecting fall, and even winter, vegetables and herbs. In our 2,000 square foot veggie garden, I rely on a handful of sneaky season extenders to stretch our harvest from the traditional May to September garden into a full year-round food factory. Yes, I said year-round! Even in the middle of January and February we can walk up to the garden and harvest about 30 different crops – from salad greens (spinach, Swiss chard, mache,

winter vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening in winter can be done using a few easy techniques such as cold framing or using a cloche. Photo by Jonathan Eastland c/o Photos.Com.

mizuna, mustards, tatsoi, kale) to root crops (carrots, beets, parsnips, celery root) and even several stem crops (scallions, leeks, kohlrabi).

My secret is to grow the right vegetables at the right time and protect them with the right season extender. For example, I wouldn’t choose to grow heat loving vegetables like tomatoes in mid-winter, but rather cold tolerant crops like kale and spinach. Then, I pair them up with a protective device like a cold frame, cloche, mini hoop tunnel or even a thick layer of mulch.

Read Nikki’s other suggestions and tips here at halifaxnewsnet.ca:

Growing your crops by vegetable gardening in winter will greatly extend your garden’s output for the season. It will also enable you to do some valuable crop rotation since the warm weather varieties will necessarily differ in their nutrient requirements from those you plant for the cold. Choosing your crop varieties to be cold tolerant and then making an appropriate micro-climate for them using cold-frames and mulching can provide food throughout the winter months. Why not give it a try? You might just surprise yourself.

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Half the interest of the garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.     — Mrs. C. W. Earle

Fall Vegetable Gardening: As Winter Approaches

Well, it’s October now, and before you know it another vegetable gardening season will come to a close as winter sets in. There are some crops that do tolerate a good touch of frost, but generally speaking, vegetables don’t grow in the snow for good reason. That said, many common garden vegetables can still be planted late in the season and harvested. Right now you should be making arrangements for what’s going to be harvested and when, as well as protecting what is still in the ground from sudden drops in temperature. This is especially of concern overnight when the below freezing cold can creep in on little cat feet and steal your hard work. Here is an article by Bunny Guinness in The Telegraph that enumerates some of the preparations she recommends that keep her garden going even into very cold weather.

Fall Vegetable Gardening: As Winter Approaches

Winter gardens are like chilly swimming pools, refreshing and invigorating once you have taken the plunge. I like to get out in the garden most weekends, relishing the crisper air and more energetic types of winter gardening.

vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening in the cold is possible with the right crop selection and planning. Photo by Alain Turgeon c/o Photos.Com.

Keeping your vegetable beds brimful so you have an “outdoor larder” stocked for continual use works in many ways. Making sure the soil is always covered with plants helps stop nutrients being washed through the soil, and keeps the soil structure and organisms in good order.

You can grow edibles you cannot buy and, most important of all, having a wide range of vegetables and herbs means your menus become more diverse and biased in favour of greenery.

The winter vegetable garden needs a little help in the soil department. No green manures for me, though. I would rather have a productive crop and just add compost to top up organic matter. I add this whenever I change a crop and earth up and top-dress with it too.

Check your soil’s pH. The RHS is offering free soil testing of four samples (to everyone, not just members) till the end of October (see rhs.org.uk). Even on my alkaline (pH8) soil, the continual addition of compost increases the acidity, so adding lime (usually in winter) is necessary.

When your vegetable gardening season starts coming to a close, realize that there is still plenty of life left in your garden. With the proper planning, plant selection and timing, you can still get another round of produce out of it. Why not try some of Bunny’s suggestions for your own garden and see what you can harvest. You might surprise yourself.
Please leave a comment below. If you’re one of those late season vegetable gardeners like Bunny, share your experiences with us. You can also click the like button and share this idea with a fellow gardener.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.  —  Tom Robbins