Protecting the Staples!
A winter garden seems to be about selecting cold hardy plants, getting them to a certain level of maturity, and then protecting them. This is my first time doing this, and so I am really anxious to see how things turn out. In the east part of my garden, I have a lot of lettuce, radishes, kale, chard, carrots and a whole 5′ x 8′ bed of spinach. These I covered with Agribon-19 and will hopefully be able to harvest through the winter. We have a had a few cold nights, but tonight it supposed to get to 28 deg F, so I am interested to see how the plants will react.
Protecting the Cauliflower!
I know from previous experience that cauliflower is cold sensitive… or at least I have had cauliflower that was killed in the spring by frost. I now that there are different strains of plants that are more cold/heat sensitive, and am already thinking through what variety of seeds to buy for next year. More on that in a later post! Now that I am overjoyed that I actually HAVE cauliflower, I have been working this weekend to try to protect it. The problem with my row of cauliflower (and some kalettes) is they are flopping outside of the row. So, instead of covering the 3′ wide row, I would have to try to cover 5-6 feet, which is not really feasible.
So, I decided to put up the pvc pipe for the row cover, and then use twine to pull the renegade plants back into the row. This strategy seemed to work ok, and with some trimming of branches, I was able to get everything with the 3′ row!
The Greenhouse – the Safest Place in the Garden!
The greenhouse is definitely the safest place for the winter garden. Protection from the cold wind is absolute, and it definitely traps the heat from the sun’s rays. Not necessarily the best place during the fall, though. During the fall there can be days when it is in the 70’s outside which means it gets into the 90’s in the greenhouse. That’s ok if I am growing tomatoes, but not so good for lettuce and other heat sensitive plants.
Overall, the greens have been growing well – spinach, mesclun salad mix, arugula, buttercrunch, and parsley and cilantro. We have been eating from it the past few weeks. The mache I planted is the least successful, probably because it is the most heat sensitive/cold tolerant. I am also learning to think ahead, and that experimentation is Ok. I decided to start some micro-green seeds (a mild mix (mizuna, kale, etc), a spicy mix (some radish, mustard, etc), chard, kale, beet) in trays and see how they fare. In less than a week, most had sprouted. The amount of sunlight is diminishing and the evenings will be cool, so they may not do well. I have a grow light, so I could bring them inside….but I just want to see what happens.
The last experiment was to put some soil in left over containers from potatoes and throw some carrot seed. I took the picture below while thinning some of them out. So far, so good. I got the green, now I need to get the root! With the frost coming, I am interested to see how these carrots will fair. These were planted on Sep 18, with a calculated harvest dates of Nov 26 – Dec 1. These carrots are not anywhere near that, and I am suspecting it is an issue of sunlight. There are trees on either side of my backyard, so the yard really gets less light than the day is long. The carrots are growing, but just slower than “ideal”.