Monday, November 8, 2010

How to... Grow a Winter Garden

A friend asked me how I made my winter garden grow? Well, it didn't really, and neither did hers, so I decided to do some research to find out how we can both be successful winter gardeners. A quick google search reveals a plethora of information.

1. Know your zone. Here in the lower mainland, we are zone 8. Knowing your zone helps you to know when to plant seedlings, when the typical first and last frost occur. Check here to see the characteristics of your zone.

2. Next, decide what you want to plant. Successful winter garden vegetables include carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, chard, beets, onions, leeks, cabbage, Brussels sprouts. Basically tubers, root vegetables that grow under the ground and hardy leaf greens like kale and chard.
(Photo: My cousins garden in France)

3. Lastly, know when to plant. The easy part of a summer garden is the fact that you can start planting as soon as the risk of frost has past. And you can keep planting throughout spring and summer. The trick with a winter garden is to know how long it will take for your seeds to mature (and there is huge variation from crop to crop) and then calculate when to plant.

For example, let's say I want to plant beets to harvest in the early fall. Beets take approximately 90 days to reach maturity, so I would want to plant by mid July for a mid October harvest.

Broccoli on the other hand only takes 30 days to reach maturity, so I could plant by mid September for mid October harvest.

For continuous crops, you could plant new seeds every two weeks just as you would a summer garden.

Here are some websites that I found to be helpful and informative. Check 'em out, then go out and plant some broccoli... it's not too late.

Old Farmers Almanac

Hume Seeds

Plant a Fall and Winter Garden

You Grow Girl - General Garden Blog for Urban Dwellers

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