We always have parsnips, beets and carrots in the wintertime, but are there more veggies that work in our climate? If so, when and how do you sow them?
Yes, quite a bit is kept in the garden & gathered throughout the winter. Grows and keeps even better with protection from excessive winter rains. Sometimes an upturned clear tote staked up for circulation or clear cake tops protect young seedlings or smaller plants. Mulch also helps protect them, but be sure to bait & patrol for slugs in hiding.
lettuces (until hard frost) & other hardy greens spinach, arugula, corn salad,
kale & swiss chard (pick outer lower leaves & go up to keep harvesting all winter)
perennial onions like multiplier & evergreen bunching onion
broccoli (leaves die in heavy freezing, heads still there & form during mild weather slowly...)
flat leaf parsley (technically an herb, but we eat with our greens)
This year hoops are in and we'll cover with plastic, but leave ends open except for the cold snaps. Our winter lows are 13 degrees with limited sun on gardens. In sunnier locations you'd have more heat & growth. Plus what young plants overwinter grow in spring for early harvesting until your soil has warmed for the other plants to go in.
I've learned a lot earlier this spring after reading Backyard Bounty: The Complete Guide to Year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest by Linda Gilkeson. She has nice charts and good suggestions for interplanting and succession gardening. You'd like her book for continued reference month by month of what to do in the edible garden both for fruit & vegetables.
Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Gardening articles
works well to harvest flavorful outer leaves cooked in soups & stews until spring when it goes to seed. I know it's suppose to be difficult to grow, but it's not from transplants in rich soil. I give it no special treatment.
I think celery just wants a certain climate, and that's the one we have here in the PNW and southwest BC. :)
Collards and turnips also make it through the winter to have greens then flower buds in spring. Things to be overwintered need to be sown around July 15 to attain sufficient size to make it through the winter, in my experience.
How can you forget Brussels Sprouts?!! Roasted nuggets of caramelized goodness....mmmmmmm.
Thanks for the replies. I thought mid-July was the time to start veggies for wintertime. I have a space now that some veggies are finished. It's been a strange year -- I'm only just harvesting snap peas now -- should have been ready a month ago. But, now it's warm things are growing quickly. Of course, everything is ready at once!
Maybe off thread, but...
Green Tart -- how do you grow winter Brussels? I have tried planting spring and fall with dismal results; they either shot to flower or aphids and green worms overwhelmed them!
Karchita -- I tried celery, but it was so bitter nobody would eat it. What is your secret to growing winter celery that isn't bitter?
We grow lots of Red Russian kale and it is 'hardy' a few years ago we had 3 days when the temperature dropped to 7f, it looks like it's finished but as soon as the temperature rises it springs back to life.
Other things in the garden right now for fall/winter: Carrots, Beets, Parsnips, Salsify, Upland Cress (super hardy and care free). We'll plant fall lettuce in a couple of weeks and some radishes too.
I would like to recommend Kweik lettuce to anyone wanting a cool weather lettuce - actually tastes as good as any lettuce I've ever eaten - unlike some 'winter' lettuces I've grown. Specifically: Arctic King - yech!
We put some Kweik in rather late last fall, kept it covered and harvested it in April. This year we're planting successions of it to have all fall.
**Don't forget garlic! Plant ~Oct 15th.
I will have lots of winter crop seedlings to give away at my Fall Plant Trade on Sept 15 (info on link below). What grows well here in the fall and early winter are any mustard-family plants (many listed above), plus lettuces, spinach, several kinds of herbs (if you can cloche them, you can grow purple ruffles basil and pesto perpetuo basil into October, then take cuttings in the house to overwinter). Bulbing onions planted at this time of year will be ready to plant out next spring. When you plant those seeds this fall, plant a lot of them close together to discourage bulbing, then prick out and plant next spring like you would any onion from sets - or direct-sow and thin out next spring. Non-bulbing onions like scallions and chives can be planted now to harvest young. Garlic can be planted now to harvest next July/August. Snow- and snap-peas can be planted now, and barring an early frost, have a good chance of producing a crop (almost certainly, if you can cover them with plastic). Carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, beets, radishes, kohlrabi, and almost any root vegetable can continue to grow at the roots even after the tops die down. Note that potatoes are not a 'root crop' in the same way that carrots are, which have tap roots that swell, while potatoes are tubers, and will not continue to grow after the tops die down - but you can often leave potatoes in the ground as long as the ground does not get too wet and lift them for several weeks into the fall. Don't forget edible flowers such as pansies and violas, as well as the flowers of many herbs that linger into the fall, such as borage, chives, fennel, dill, and rocket. Flowers should only be eaten if grown organically.
Here is a link that might be useful: 2012 Olympia Fall Trade
ngrrsn, for the best chance with fall Brussels sprouts, you have to have a short-season cultivar such as Jade Cross, at 75 days. Long Island Improved, the most commonly available at nurseries and box stores, matures at 95 days.
From what I've read about celery, it requires a trifecta of conditions: soil, water and shade. Grow in rich sandy loam. Give it a consistent amount of water - letting it get dry and then drenching it will make it stringy. If the stalks are bitter, there's too much clorophyll in them, so it needs shade (blanching) beginning at 2 weeks prior to harvest. Besides mounding soil around the stalks, you can blanch them by heaping straw, or putting paper towel tubes around them. You can also buy a self-blanching cultivar.
How much direct sun do winter veggies need? I was thinking of sowing seeds now and putting up a hoop house, but realized that by winter, I may not get as much sun as I would need in the beds North of the house.
I just got a great book and DVD at King County Library by Eliot Coleman. He grows all winter in Maine. A wealth of knowledge.
Osborne Seeds in Mt Vernon, WA has a number of winter veggie trials and is a good local source for seed.
toad ca -
You asked how much sun? ...as much sun as you can. Less sun = slower growth.
We don't have full sun after mid-August, so if the plants show good growth by the time the gray days come in fall we can harvest them all winter. If not then they're 1st to harvest in spring. For us the winter garden is more like storing produce in the garden until you harvest.
Though if you have snow you won't be able to find the plants unless you know exactly where they are located in the bed. A few years ago we had snow before Thanksgiving and had to hunt a bit with gloves & a trowel.
A downfall of full sun right away in the early morning is that the frost + sunshine = burst cells & frost damage, so shade is an advantage. Any kind of protection makes a difference. I've used upturned clear plastic totes staked with sticks on the inside & one on the outside to avoid wind damage to plants. Cracked totes work fine & provide air circulation. A hoop with sides open during the day would be fantastic & would keep the snow from hiding your produce!
The wind has now dried out the leaves, so it's the perfect time to add another 2-4" of loose, dry leaves or straw, then anchor it in place by covering with floating row cover. Most of what is left standing in the garden now will survive the cold weather ahead if you provide a bit of protection. I didn't stake my broccoli & noticed it rocking in the wind this morning, so will take care of that today after I go get another load of free straw.
Feed stores sell bales and often have broken bales or sweepings in a bin or pile out back for free. Just ask because most have to pay for it to be hauled away. The wet bales are difficult to load, but once at home you can pull away the flakes and lay 2" thick rectangles in place for a thick mulch that won't blow away.
Don't be afraid of the straw. A straw bale contains few seeds if any & are usually oats that if sprouted are killed by cold weather anyway. Local grass hay is another story however.