Winter Garden Help!

organicnatureOctober 10, 2007

I need help with planting crop for a cold frame. Is it possible that i can grow vegetables all winter long? what are my options? also does anyone or can anyone give me some good resources for Gardening overall. I am new to Gardening, just planted my first this last summer, turned out very well, eggplants, brussel sprouts, brocoli, watermelon, various squash, peppers, tomatos, and some other goodies, but like i said im new. want to grow through the winter and beyond, could use any help i can get.

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russh_nepa

I can strongly recommend a book by Eliot Coleman, Four Season Harvest. As the title suggests, he talks about eating fresh from your garden all year long using the correct mix of cold hardy vegetables.

He talks at length about cold frames, but being in Maine, he also uses a High Tunnel and floating row covers for extra protection.

This is my favorite gardening book.

Russ

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 1:42PM
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robin_maine

In my area the days will become too short to support growth around the middle of December. Soon after Ground Hog's day we'll see dormant plants start to grow and winter sown seeds begin to germinate. You can do pretty much the same thing in a cold frame as we do in our greenhouse and hoop houses. Another of Eliot's books, The Winter Harvest Manual, has been a huge help to me. The Winter Harvest Manual can be ordered from Eliot. His address is on his website.

His website shows pictures of some of his greenhouses, a pic of a cold frame surrounded by snow and a lot more.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Winter Harvest Manual

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 3:05PM
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catherine_nm

Hi, organicnature

I got interested in four season gardening from a little paperback whose name escapes me, about 16 years ago. I covered one bed with a low tunnel (10 ft poly pipe from the hardware store, covered with painter's dropcloth poly clipped to the pipe with great big clips from the copy shop). I had carrots and spinach all winter long! Later I picked up the Eliot Coleman book, Four Season Harves, and have been experimenting for the last 6 years. So far I haven't gotten my fall/winter garden planted early enough once, although I was close this year with the lettuce. For the first time I found fall vegetable transplants at a local nursery--lettuce, kale, and ruby chard--in early September. We had our first salad from the garden just last night, the lettuce has really done well.

For the last few years I have planted carrots in the fall/winter garden, and my kids love them. However, I had a disaster with my many seeds this fall (okay, I set my bowl of seed envelopes down on the hot stove and cooked them), so except for a few self-seeded volunteers, the garden is all from those transplants. I tossed the cooked seeds out on a bare bed after I cleaned up the tomatoes, just because I couldn't believe they were ALL cooked, and sure enough, a few turnips and radishes have grown, and even some lettuce, but I don't see any carrots or parsley.

Anyway, the thing about zone 5 winter gardening is that you have to get your plants to nearly harvest size before the cold weather sets in. During the winter most of the cool-weather crops will hold well with a little protection (row covers, low tunnels, cold frames, etc), but they won't do much growing until late winter (start planting salad crops, carrots, etc in late February under cover, you'll be amazed how early they start sprouting!). And if you already have brusselsprouts and broccoli, you already have your first hardy crops planted.

Good luck with your gardening. You can get hooked on off-season gardening. I love it!

Catherine

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 6:59AM
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russh_nepa

Catherine,

I feel for your lost seeds. I had some seeds in my kitchen waiting for time when I could get them into the garden. Wouldn't you know we had a rainstorm with blowing wind. The window above the seeds was open a crack, and in the confusion the seeds all got soaked. The worst part was I didn't realise what happened for several days. 8 packets of seed lost. Not much fun.

However, like you I planted many of them anyway (at least the ones that didn't sprout in the packets), and soem are in my GH as we speak.

Russ

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 4:19PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I was amazed to find that I was picking lettuce on December 17th this year! I picked the last of it on that date to sell at a farmers market, but it got snowed out.
I had one cutting the middle of October, one big one in the middle of November and then the December one, besides a few picks for a salad/sandwich here and there.
This was just an experiment for me to see if we'd be able to get a late crop of lettuce since it's been so hot all summer...so I planted it in October and covered it with a doubled layer of thin frost blanket. I hung the frost blanket in a teepee over the plants instead of laying it directly on them by putting a few concrete blocks standing on end in the thin spots here and there in the row. Then I put a long piece of metal conduit pipe on top of the blocks. I used more conduit pipe to secure the edges of the frost blanket on each side.
I never dreamed that I'd be picking lettuce this late in the season. It seemed that the frost was forming on the outside of the teepee and not getting on the lettuce at all. We've had several days of 12-14 degrees at night scattered during this time. The lettuce was all standard varieties, red sails, buttercrunch, romaine, and green oak leaf.I even had a stray cilantro plant that I was able to pick in December.
I did lose it the other day finally though. We got 55 mph winds and it blew the frost cover off and since I'd picked it all anyway, I didn't bother to fix it. Then we got some cold weather.
I think I'm hooked..this was really fun and I also made $30 on my row of lettuce at the November farmers market.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2007 at 1:29AM
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luvinlife513

Hi I am a newbie here but not to gardening. I garden for self sufficiency. I also have chickens for the eggs they lay. The best food for them are fresh veggies (or weeds)and the bugs that cling to them.
I need to keep anything green growing in my yard for that purpose. I still have some weeds left but I am running out. This is my first winter with my gals and really want to treat them right.
Any suggestions? Thanks

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 12:36PM
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