Northern gardeners: What do you have started?

barb_ny5(z5NY)September 16, 2003

Just wondering what folks in the north country have started or will be starting for their winter harvest?

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faithling(z4 VT)

Before this recent dry spell began in late August I planted spinach, arugula, lettuce (for heading), mache, cilantro, parsley, and just to experiment, since I had left-over seed, some carrots (Mokum - a relatively early variety). Also transplanted some scallions I'd seeded a month earlier and seeded some more for overwintering (another experiment). Everything looks pretty good so far. This planting is intended to supply my Nov/Dec table, but as always at this time of year, everything is growing excruciatingly slowly so who knows if it will work.

Now that we're finally getting some rain this week, I'm going to plant more of the same for wintering-over for Feb/March/April harvests. For overwintering, I broadcast the lettuce seed for cutting, rather than for individual heads, and will plant some other stuff like mizuna and Toscano kale that I didn't get around to planting in Aug.

This year I'm planning to plant some garlic in the hoop house in the portion of the winter garden where our two ducks spend the winter. I'm hoping this garlic will get a good start in the hoop house for early harvest, and since the garlic action in winter is all underground, the presence of the ducks and their bedding straw over it shouldn't be a problem. This way the portion of the garden occupied by the ducks won't be wasted. I've also planted asparagus in the hoop house beds under the same theory that I'll get earlier harvests while the ducks can use those beds during the winter when the asparagus is dormant.

Flexible fencing allows the ducks to move around to different portions of the winter garden as conditions change. The hoop house provides a nice "barn" for the ducks in winter (they don't like snow) and they do a nice job of improving the soil while they live in there.

In my hoop house I also have a few perennial plantings of chives, garlic chives, thyme and sorrel which do well in the fall and spring but die down in deep winter. I also recommend devoting a small portion of your hoop house beds to some bulbs. I interplanted crocus and tulips in the asparagus beds and can't tell you how nice it was to have all that lovely color in the hoop house a good month before anything was happening outside.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2003 at 7:34AM
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timf7(Z5 40m w Chicag)

Faithling, Great plans -- hope you give us an update in the spring. We are expecting a pretty good frost on 9/30 so we have been covering up a lot of things with row covers. Have lots of lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, cilantro, tatsoi, mustard, arugula, many herbs, that are looking very happy today, hope they make it through the first frost. I'm covering a couple of lettuce beds with a simple pvc frame and cheap plastic. Garlic going in in about two weeks. I'm setting up the 4'x8' hoophouse with a second layer of plastic and connecting a small heater -- want to see how long we can grow greens with the winter sun. This setup should be pretty warm down to about 5 degrees. In the hoophouse I've got the leftover peppers, spinach, letuce, and some broccoli, mostly experiments as we just put the plastic on yesterday.

Next spring will be starting early tomatoes for market in the hoophouse.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2003 at 8:10AM
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Hi Faithling. Sounds like you've got a good start to the winter harvest. We just got the plastic up on our 50' hoop house. I had started several types of lettuce, spinach, chard, tat soi& mizuna in cold frames. As this is also my summer garden, I'll be harvesting leeks that had been planted there earlier in the year. This will be the first year for the asparagus and strawberries in the hoop house. Had hoped to get some carrots in also, but time passed b4 I was able to. It's funny you mentioned planting bulbs in the hoop house, as I had the same thought last spring when there was still snow on the ground and had to dig down to see the crocus and dwarf iris! It was rather spectacular to see the mizuna and tat soi that was left in the spring go to flower and seed. And don't you just love the smell of the greenhouse when you walk in this time of year. Cold outside, toasty warm inside. We've set up a table and chairs and go out there for lunch on cold sunny days.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 1:22PM
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faithling(z4 VT)

Wow, sounds like you "southerners" down there in Z5 get your plastic up early! I always wait til the end of Oct/early Nov to get the hoop house up -- mainly because I'm too lazy to start artificial watering when there's plenty of nice rain doing it for free. I use row covers if there's really cold weather forecast. But maybe I ought to try getting the hoop house up earlier. Do you find that the cold-hardy plants grow significantly better under plastic in Oct?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2003 at 9:57PM
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We actually did get the plastic up a little early this year. But since we had company and idle hands...I checked and found that we had put the plastic up last year the 3rd week of Oct. But I must say that I'm real happy we did get it up now as we had a frost/freeze the other night, which put and end to anything that was flowering, except what was in the hoop house. Not to mention protection for the peppers that I hadn't harvested yet. Since I was late getting some things started I think that having the plastic up will give my seedlings a boost towards harvest b4 they go dormant. Re: watering, I find that the condensation that happens provides enough moisture with an occaisional watering from me if they look dry. We live in a valley and won't be getting more than 4hrs. of sunlight on the hoop house in the dead of winter, so any added help I can provide right now seems to help.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2003 at 12:35PM
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faithling(z4 VT)

Thanks for the input, Barb. I think I'll put the hoop-house work higher up on my to-do list for Oct. With all the wind and rain we've been having, it may be hard to get a calm weekend for getting the plastic up anyway. I always forget about the need for the right weather conditions for this job so it makes sense to have a wider window of time for getting the job done. Thanks for reminding me!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2003 at 10:30PM
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timf7(Z5 40m w Chicag)

We "southerners" got a 24 degree night on October 2. My broccoli in the hoophouse (single layer plastic)looks terrific while the outside broc and similar plants were significantly damaged although they are still alive. A few peppers are still alive in the hoophouse but I had to cut off the damaged tops. This week I'm adding an inner layer of plastic by stapling it to wood ribs I attached to the hoops. Want to see how long I can harvest spinach and lettuce this winter.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2003 at 8:42AM
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bushpoet(z6 Bronx NY)

Faithling, thanks for the bulb tips! Will do. I have cold- hardy salad greens coming up: red mustard, arugula, sylvetta, mizuna, leaf lettuces, claytonia, mache, frissee, 3 kinds of kale, 3 types of spinach...and so on in a 3x12 bed. Very pleased because I planted them late but they are doing well alongside some beautiful if smallish leeks.

Wondering if it's too late to try radishes in NYC zone 6/7?

Also hoping for a second harvest of sugar snap and oregon giant snow peas - they were delish earlier this year.

Gearing up to do tons of wintersowing as well.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2003 at 3:43PM
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