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penny_md6

Fresh vegetables in winter

penny_md6
18 years ago

I'm so glad about this forum because I want to grow vegetables through the winter both indoors and out. Presently I'm growing salad greens, lettuces and mesclun in containers. These are all short season greens, 25-45 days. I started them on November 27 and they are growing rather slowly in a cold frame. I will bring them in soon and put them in my light garden. I have 2- 4' shoplights, per shelf, 2 cool white and 2 warm white tubes.

I'd also like to be able to harvest other veggies through the winter like carrots. Organic Gardening had an article some years ago on mulching carrots for harvesting all winter...and yes, even in my climate zn 6b. Unfortunately, I can't find the darn mag now.

There must be other veggies, root crops that can be grown in winter.

Anybody?

Comments (48)

  • Wingnut

    The list of veggies I've grown in winter here in Central Texas is:
    broccoli
    brussels sprouts
    cabbage
    cauliflower
    kale
    peas (English and sweet)

    I haven't been able to grow lettuce REALLY successfully yet, but I haven't given up! This year I'll try covering it with plastic when the temps drop.

  • vgkg Z-7 Va

    Hi Penny! In my zone 7 here in central Va I have real good "luck" with winter veggies. My usual annual set up is as follows:

    Late August (~20th): Plant out Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, & Cauliflower transplants. These usually go in right after my melons have exhausted themselves. I clear the old melon patch and prep for the winter garden around Aug 20th.
    At the same time I direct seed plant Kale, Collards, Carrots, & Turnips.

    Around Halloween is when some of the winter harvest begins with collards & kale, and the carrots will last until early Feb. As long as temps are moderate (22-25F+) everything listed will survive ok. But once there's 2-3 nights in the teens then things go down hill quickly. I have some old bed sheets & blankets I use to cover things on those frigid nites as there are warm spells inbetween. This year has been exceptional with warm temps, but rain could have been better.
    As for color, Pansies (transplanted in Sept) are the greatest, even the teens don't hurt them and by spring they are great looking with the tulips, daffodils, etc.

    My parsnips (planted in spring) remain unharvested until the next winter too (this doesn't work for me with carrots tho, winter carrots need to be seeded in Aug).
    One day I'm gonna try Leeks in the winter too, good for those soups in winter when the onions are long gone.

    Right now vgqn & I are harvesting cabbages, carrots, collards, Brussels sprouts, & broccoli (side shoots). The turnips have past their peak now and the kale has developed podwery mildew (first time I've seen that happen). The pansies are beautiful too. You being in Z-6 may have to adjust planting times a bit earlier than me. Hope this helps. vgkg

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  • penny_md6

    Thank you both.
    Vgkg, how heavily do you mulch the carrots to be able to harvest in February? Do you think it would work with turnips?
    I too would like to grow leeks. It seems they are very hardy and not so difficult to grow, or so I hear.

  • John_D

    I have grown leeks--they made it through one of our harsher winters without problems.

  • vgkg Z-7 Va

    Penny, as the first cold snaps move in (20's) I use light bed sheets to cover the carrot tops over night (sheets not too heavy) and easily remove them once the sun comes up. Then when it really gets cold for long periods (teens) I'll rake oak leaves over the carrot row usually about 6-12" deep. This helps keep the ground from getting ice-rock solid. By doing this the tops are pretty much history and I'll pull back the leaves to harvest carrots the rest of the winter. I always leave a dozen or so carrots in place so that they will bloom in spring as excellent beneficial insect attractors.
    As for turnips, they seem to reach their peak (when ever that is, ha ;o) early on in mid-autumn. Unlike carrots, turnips get Strong in flavor the older they get. Not one of my favorites but I grow them anyway since they do well in cold weather. Since turnips sit on top of the ground for the most part (as compared to carrots) slugs have a field day with mine, and they do tend to freeze more easily than carrots. I never have tried to extend turnip season by covering since they are on the bottom of my "Sheet Worthy" list and pass their peak of good eating by Thanksgiving here. By covering the turnips with leaves I'd only be making a slug enclave for the winter. Even the covered carrots have a few slug-carved out top tips as winter progresses on. vgkg

  • penny_md6

    John,

    A lady from the UK said she grows leeks and that they are very hardy as well.

    Vgkg, I'm taking notes...and let me say here that like Vgqn, I'm not really fond of brussel sprouts but DH loves them, so I'll grow them for him. I like the white part of the turnip diced up and cooked in with collard greens. Also, I find turnips to be tasty deep fried, tempura style with the traditional tempura dipping sauce. Of course then they're not as good for you.

    An added bonus to cole crops is that some, notably cabbage and carrots, store well and collards freeze well when cooked first.

    I just moved my lettuce mix to my light garden. I started the seeds 3 wks ago today. Some are just getting there 2nd set of leaves.

    Thank you for the imput.

  • vgkg Z-7 Va

    Hummm, diced turnips in collards, I'll take notes too Penny ;o).
    I didn't attempt planting lettuce or spinach this fall but looks like I missed an excellent window of opportunity, ugh! vgkg

  • penny_md6

    Serious biz Vgkg, turnips and collards...it's good!

  • annebert

    Yeah, and you forgot to mention rutabaga, the best of all!

  • penny_md6

    Uumm...love em and they too are delicious with collards and in soups...never thought about growin em...thanks annebert, that's a good thought!

  • Bill_in_Maine

    Penny,

    I know the article you are refering to, it was by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. If you are really serious about this, look for Eliots' books, especially Farming on the Back side of the Calendar, which deals exclusively with this issue. Alternatively, try to find his Four-Season Harvest, which elaborately outlines a system of growing year-round in unheated greenhouses and open ground. I have had the pleasure of visiting his farm and enjoying his produce, and can attest to the quality and simplicity of his system.

    In the root cellar, we have potatoes, onions, garlic, pumpkins, and winter squash.

    Right now, in an unheated greenhouse in Maine, (it could as easily be cold-frames) we are harvesting spinach, lettuce, kale, carrots, dandelion, parsley, mache, turnips, radishes, mizuna, watercress, claytonia, mizuna, minutina, tatsoi, and beets, all based on Eliots' system.

  • penny_md6

    Bill,

    You just made my day. I did a search and found the book, 'Four Season Harvest,' at amazon.com. I'll have it before the first of the year. (Merry Christmas to me) I didn't find 'Gardening on the Backside of the Calender' but I'll keep looking.

    Thank you~

  • Bill_in_Maine

    Gardening on the Backside.. was self-published by Eliot last winter, and is possibly only available... oops, I just found it! The correct title is

    The Winter Harvest Manual:
    Farming the Back Side of the Calendar.


    It is available from FEDCO for $15. Personally, I think that the Four Season Harvest might be more pertinent unless you already have or immediately intend to build a greenhouse, but the ..Back Side is a great small reference, and is based on his own experience. Ordder the catalogue from:

    FEDCO
    P.O. Box 520
    Waterville, ME
    04903-0520

    Good luck.

  • penny_md6

    Thanks again Bill,

    I'll definitely check it out. 'Four Season Harvest' does sound like what I'm looking for. It has gotten great reviews. I don't have a greenhouse yet but hopefully down the road I will.

    Penny~

  • bmckay_growitalian_com

    Just a couple of observations about winter growing.

    Need to second the observations on Coleman. This is the fifth winter I have been using an unheated hoophouse using his techniques. Winter Harvest Manual is by far the more useful of the two books he wrote on this subject.

    You do not get a whole lot of growing (some, but maybe 3x as long to grow as during the summer), but you do get a whole lot of survival of items that will make it in the unheated greenhouse but be toast outside.

    I just came back in from a walk out back to check on things. Outside, the mature lettuce (some romaine & biscia rossa) is gone; However, the smaller lettuce, arugula, escarole, mixed chicory, etc is doing ok (not happy, but ok). This brings up an important point in growing in the winter without heat. Mature vegetables do not do well, while immature lettuces & other greens can freeze like a popsicle & shake it off). (Also, when talking about greens, leaf type greens (eg, leaf lettuce, leaf chicory) do a whole lot better than heading types which tend to rot at the soil line).

    Then I went into the unheated hoop house. It was probably 60 there (20 outside). The lettuce is twice the size of the baby stuff outside (and I had transplanted from that bed). Arugula & escarole are doing fine as is the rosemary (which overwinters outside in the unheated house-this is its fifth winter.

    Some other standouts for the winter hoop house are carrots, beets, chard, herba stella (kind of a bitter green that is incredibly frost tolerant), parsley, & kale (although it actually does fine outside).

    I have some photos of my unheated house with the amazing rosemary that has survived -5 along with some instructions on how to build an inexpensive hoop house that will take a zone 5b winter with no problem.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Hoophouse

  • Cady

    The weather has been so mild, here in the Northeast, that the ornamental kales are still growing in people's gardens. You probably could grow cabbage, kale and other cruciferous crops in coldframes. If the ornamental kales are doing well on their own in planters outside the shopping mall, then their cousins should do just as well or better under glass. :)

  • Juliana_9

    In Houston many things do better in fall/winter, I am growing broccoli
    brussels sprouts
    cabbage
    cauliflower
    kale
    Carrots
    turnips
    Tomatoes (just picked the last of these today, expecting a frost tonight.)
    Bell Pepper
    Aspargus planted, expecting to be gathering it by the end of January.

    So nice to garden when you do not absolutely burn up.

  • penny_md6

    Will, Cady and Juliana, thank you, I've learned so much since I posted this just 10 days ago. When I hear from people in zone 5b, I'm encouraged and, sick as it seems, looking forward to next winter...SHOOT ME! But I love soups and winter vegetables...yes Juliana, no heat to contend with. I'm planning a lean-to greenhouse...in my dreams...$$$...it could become a reality down the road.

    Happiness in the new year***

  • theboyds_mediaone_net

    Use floating row cover (it's a spun polypropylene) plus milk jugs (or other receptacles)filled with water. The row cover "floating" on top of the vegetables, preserves the natural heat of the combination of milk jugs and the soil.

    The trick, as I believe Eliot pointed out years ago in the article you all are referring to, is to ensure that most plants achieve a far amount of physical maturity before your winter cold sets in. Why? Other than miner's lettuce and a few other vegetables, these winter greens grow very little when the soil temperatures drop much below 45* F.

    I recommend row cover rated to 24*F. I use 10' wide cover for my 4'-wide beds to allow the plants to attain good size.

    See my earlier posts in other forums here.

    Good eatin' to ya

    Bill

  • penny_md6

    Hello Bill,

    Do you mean that you set the plastic jugs underneath the row cover around the plants? I have row covers which I plan to use this spring, first time. I had wondered about using plastic bottles filled with water in my cold frame, seems like it would work.

    Also, what forums do you usually post on? Would love to read more.

    Thank you,

    ~~~Party safely tonight and always~~~

  • Loretta NJ Z6

    Its been a while since I read Coleman's book but he uses an interesting technique in which he doubles the protection. He uses the portable hoop house made of rebar and plastic film and then he coldframes inside it getting 2 zones better? Never tried it yet. It's a good read with alot of inspired experimentation.
    Anyway Bill Mckay, your link sent me to a italian seed site.

  • apcohrs

    Next summer pot up a pepper plant before the first frost and put it under lights. I have two (jingle bells and ace) and they are bearing a pepper or two a week. I'll have to ditch them when the seed starting gets fierce, but it sure was nice having home grown for Christmas dinner.

  • penny_md6

    Update:

    It's been approximately 45 days since I planted salad greens under lights and I'm just starting to harvest small amounts, especially the kyoto mizuna, tatsoi and arugula. The Lolla rosa lettuce is coming along slowly...but coming. It doesn't have so much of the red tinge to the leaves as it would have outside. I have oakleaf lettuce too but it's growing slow as well. I have only used manure tea as a fertilizer.

    Just wanted to bring you up to date.

    Apcohrs, I'm gonna try digging up a pepper plant this fall. I've had fresh patio tomatoes on Christmas but haven't tried peppers.

    You know I got so involved in Bill Mckay's link to Italian seeds, I forgot it was supposed to be a hoophouse link.

    Penny~

  • tyro

    For those who don't know my user name means 'beginner'. I want to try to grow some collard greens this year. I was told i could plant seeds now and then transplate the flower in early to mid aug. My fear is that i don't know what the greens look like in the ground. I have only seen them in the grocery store. Do anybody have some pictures they don't mind sharing?

  • wild_garden

    i'm so glad i found this thread in august of 2002! there is someone here talking about planting things in mid august for winter harvest and for once in my life i am going to be right on time to do something when it is supposed to be done!!!! LOL. i'm excited, i'm going out right now to plant some carrots and things, i just happen to have a lot of winter vegetable seeds, kale, etc, and i'm going to go and sow a bed of them. i hope in december and january i can be talking about all the fresh produce i am enjoying instead of thinking "next year i should remember to do that" like i usually do! lol.

  • kendrab225

    I am glad to have found this thread. I hope that my Square Foot Garden will over winter. I read 4 Season Harvest a few weeKs ago. I plan to use bed sheets for protection from frosts. Anyone know what temps they will protect to?
    Kendra

  • KAYGARDENER

    COLEMAN'S BOOK IS GOOD FOR CONTINENTAL CLIMATE GARDENS-- FOR PACIFIC NW MARITIME GARDENS, SEE BINDA COLEBROOK'S WINTER GARDENING IN THE MARITIME NW OR THE FALL SEED CATALOG SUPPLEMENT OF TERRITORIAL SEED COMPANY (OUT IN ~ AUG, I BELIEVE)...ONE THING I NOTICED IN MY EXPERIENCE-- COLORED VARIETIES OR SAVOYED/ FRILLED LEAVES SEEMED TO BE HARDIER THAN REGULAR "GROCERY STORE" VARIETIES, EG RED/ PURPLE/ BLUE GREEN COLORED LETTUCE, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, KALE, LEEKS, CARROTS BEETS, CHARD, CABBAGES, ETC... ALSO FALL PLANTED ASIAN VEGIES ARE QUITE HARDY-- PARTS OF CHINA, JAPAN & CERTAINLY KOREA ARE MORE LIKE ALASKA THAN FLORIDA!!GOOD GARDENING TO YOU!

  • glenn73

    I can go out and get a good meal out of my winter garden .Today I have beets, turnips ,spinach (LOTS OF SPINACH ) onions broccoli cabbage,lettuce,dill and parsley as well as carrots.This week it got down to 15 deg. but so far no damage. English peas have frozen on me at 15 but 17 and they will survive.Fixing to plant my new potatoes this week.(I know, some will say I am too early but for the lst four years I have planted then on or before the i5 of Jan and they have out produced all around me who plant in Feb.

  • penny_md6

    Hi Glenn,
    Go ahead rub it in!! LOL...we're experiencing temps in the 20's and a couple of inches of snow on the ground. The 25 mile an hour winds the last few days has make it feel a lot colder.

    This year I decided to wait a little later to plant my greens. Why? Because they grew so slow last year, short days and all. I guess I didn't fool them much by placing them in the light garden. LOL! I do however have fresh herbs, including cilantro, growing on an unheated back porch. So there!!
    The end of January, I'll start planting my cole crops...umm in the light garden. There's a blizzard in the forecast later this month or February. Quite a change from last winter.

    Peggy~

  • FranBickel

    Haven't enjoyed this forum for a while. Winter gardening is really my favorite, except that I am always seduced by the tomatoes. Otherwise, I'd just start in July for the winter.

    A few things to contribute: There's a variety of Escarole called "Perfect" sold by Territorial Seed Co. that I have harvested from under snow. Even if you think it's dead, you see that it rebounds during the first 40+ degree days. I usually sow it around Labor day.

    Regarding carrots, I sow them (have used "Caroline" successfully, as well as others) around mid-July and do nothing to mulch. They are diggable and good all winter. It was the same at my old house, zone 6 NJ. Winter mulch is just a slug haven.

    Bleu deSolaise leeks overwinter beautifully and with no maintenance, either. Start and transplant them early. Multiplier onions provide green onions from under snow (just snipped some for salad dressing).

    Two other proven winners with little or no extra care are Arcadia Broccoli and Trafalgar Brussels Sprouts. Both are available from Johnny's Select Seeds in Maine. Have harvested them into Spring. The key is start dates, luck, and trying to find a good location out of the wind. Also, don't feed or fertilize after around Labor day, unless it's something like fennel and you're just trying to get it mature before the first killing frost (fennel can take a few light ones). Succulent growth does not stand up well to frost. You don't want anything to die of thirst, but the cell walls need to be ready for the winter ahead.

    Territorial Seed in Oregon publishes a winter gardening catalog which is a wonderful resource. You may want to request their regular catalog now in order to be sure to get the winter one when they send them, usually in early summer. Johnny's is also good, I guess because they are in Maine. If they say it's somewhat cold hardy, you should be in good shape with that item in Maryland!

  • delaware

    How safe would it be for a winter garden in containers on the patio? Wouldn't the containers expose the plants to colder temps than in the ground?

  • penny_md6

    I suppose that would depend on what it is you want to grow. I've grown many plants in containers without detrement. What kind of plants were you thinking about growing?

  • Tekwriter

    Roger Swain, the Editor of Horticulture (Victory Garden man) keeps root veg's and others under about a foot of staw during winter. He's in Massachusetts, so I would think it would work for most of us. I'd love to try it, but never have.

  • Rome

    I try a year-around garden on a hilltop in WV. Like Trafalgar Brussel Sprouts but have trouble getting seed. They do best of all varieties tried here. Johnny's and Territorial do not list it in 2004 catalog. Does anyone know of a source?

  • laceyvail 6A, WV

    I have been harvesting winter vegetables for about 5 winters now. Salad greens are sown in early September in a bed about 4 feet by 11 feet. I sow mache, Erbette chard (very, very cold hardy), upland cress, and North Pole or Winter Marvel head lettuce. When it starts to get really cold at night, I push in metal hoops, about two feet high in the center, and cover with opaque plastic. In the rest of the garden I am harvesting carrots and turnips, protected from the cold with a thick hay mulch, and scorzonera, sometimes called black salsify. Like parsnips, it doesn't need any covering at all.
    This is about as low tech as it gets, and it works, though this year the lettuces rotted out. The rest of the greens are doing fine.

  • Judeth

    Here in zone 8, on the British Columbia Coast, my father used to grow beautiful tall brocolli and brussel sproats that we ate all winter. He also grew a cauliflower that survived all winter and was ready to eat on St. Valentines day. (Think that was it's name)

  • curdog007

    Want to grow lettuce, and other greens in zone 8, MS Gulf Coast. Any recommendation and where on the enternet to find seeds?
    Thanks
    Lynn

  • kathicville

    A few places to look include Southern Seed Exchange (southernexposure.com), Johnny's Seeds, Peaceful Valley, Pine Tree (superseeds.com), Fedco, Territorial, and kitchengardenseeds.com (John Scheepers).....All have online catalogs; some have print catalogs too. Have fun!

  • bstring122

    My little patch in Reilingen Germany still has GA Collards, winter turnips, sage and rutabaga active. See the URL for 'snow collards' http://groups.msn.com/TheStringfieldGardens.
    --bob

    Here is a link that might be useful: The Stringfield Gardens

  • Pudgy

    My first garden went in on Sept 28th 2005. I have been eating radishes, lettuces, turnips since Oct 20th. I suspect I'll do the hoop and plastic 'greenhouse/coldframe' when it gets cold here (maybe 2-3 weeks it will change radically from fall to winter. I'll be planting some things in January and February listed here for Spring eats. Winter gardening is fun, particularly when the weather helps out.

  • Bill_Bolivia

    Bill up in Maine and Other Winter Veggie Gardeners,

    What varieties of lettuce have you had success with in Winter?

    For years, I went with black-seeded Simpson elite. But for the Spring and Summer garden this past season I added Sierra and Nevada (both available from Vesey's). My initial impression is that these last two, while growing quite well in our summer heat here in GA, are somewhat cold-sensitive, much more so than BSSE.

    BB

  • Bill_Bolivia

    Penny in MD,

    Yep. First cluster those water-filled milk jugs around your plants (most of my garden consists of rows of plants with rows of milk jugs in between), then lay on the row cover.

    I post only occasionally. Here; palms and cycads, maybe; GA and SE gardening.

    BB

  • marie99

    Garlic! I had some garlic from the grocery sprout laying around the kitchen and I've been growing my own garlic for years. It grows year round.

  • sunnymorninggardens

    Check out the Winter Sown forum as well.

  • micropropagator

    I grow most vegetables and fruits, but winter root crops are my main interest west of Louisville KY. Turnips, carrots, rutabaga, carrots, salsify, scorzonera, kohlrabi, parsnip, I am trying hamburg parsley, and want to try rooted chervil. I try cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach most years, but have trouble with lots of these crops. It is first week of June I need to start my seed for kohl crops soon for July 20 planting.

  • dethride

    Just came up from my winter garden of broccoli, spinach, red russisn kale, collards, and cabbage. The weather is too chilly and the broccoli won't head up so I'm going to get out my hoops and ag fleece and bring down some darkly painted 2.5 gallon ex-cat litter jugs and cover over them to warm up the poor things. Last year we ate the red kale all winter long and it survived some temps in the teens without any protection at all. Just ate some savoy cabbage leaves and they were sooooooo good! I have built my own coldframes out of patio glass doors and the spinach and lettuce inside them are doing well. We had fresh spinach all last winter until we turned green. Now if I can just get better at the succesion planting thing. Coleman's book is always by my side.

  • sqftgarden_in_wnc

    Has anyone ever tried beets under lights in the winter? I was thinking of doing a cold frame box outside but I think I have now decided against that. I have some seedlings right now sitting on a window sill. Trying to decide what to do with 'em.

  • karen_b

    I'm testing a sort of cold frame for my spinach, lettuce, parsley & cilantro. I took white one gallon flower pots placed upside down throughout the raised bed so storm windows will rest on them covering the raised bed completely except there is a 3-4" open area around it because I didn't have anything to cover the sides. Surprisingly we're still eating greens from the garden. I started fertilizing once a week with a liquid fertilizer and noticed faster growth. Right now we are having nice weather so I even sowed some spinach & kale seeds. But when we had those couple of really cold weather I only lost some of the lettuce that was along the outside of the raised bed. I am hoping that at this time next year I will have a greenhouse I can grow more veggies in.

    Good luck
    Karen

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