Fall/Winter Gardening in the Potager

ali-bSeptember 18, 2010

So now that Fall is just around the corner, what's going on in your potager?

I've been doing cleanup in little bits, harvesting lots of peppers and tomatoes and thinking about ideas for a low tunnel to keep my Swiss Chard going.

Does anyone do winter gardening a la Eliot Coleman's low tunnels?

I am also going to need to raise the height of my fence. Some enterprising deer decided to risk jumping into the garden despite possibly hitting into a trellis. They quite enjoyed pruning back my tomatoes and taking a little taste of just about everything in the garden. It's probably better it happened now than next spring with all my little seedlings.

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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Deer jump, oh no! I'm hoping the local deer are all on vacation - thought about taking down the 4x8 sheets of lattice that function as gates. But too soon, I guess.
My swiss chard is still tiny seedlings and I hope to harvest it in a month or 2. The tomatoes, gr. peppers and squash are all going strong. But I'm cleaning out the beds from the "finished" vegs such as stringbeans and older lettuce, and need to figure out crop rotation for next year: tomatoes and peppers in different beds, squash to be outside the potager (they take up too much space).
Hardest job is moving the compost heap to a new location about 50' further. Lots of digging, wheelbarrowing and dumping. Most of the composted material is now beautiful rich soil, and much will be wheelbarrowed to the potager as fertilizer and enrichment.
Our potager is at our weekend place; and as the weather gets colder we'll be skipping more weekends there in favor of staying in town. Which means the garden will be on its own, with an occasional visit to it to harvest that heavily mulched chard, I hope.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:15PM
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It's too cold here for me to have winter veggies, but I am moving some things around and getting the beds ready for next spring. I'm also planting a lot of bulbs on the edges of the garden, so I'll have some nice color in March and April! It's too wet to plant anything until May, so I'm putting in a lot of bulbs :)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 5:35PM
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Hi folks,

A great post, I have had thoughts about the fall/winter garden all week, such as what evergreen interest should be added (maybe boxwood on the corners?).

Everything but the tomatoes, peppers and squash have slowed way down, so I've been able to clean up a bit and think about moving things. The flowers did fine where they are but I will want to rotate the veggies.

Any thoughts about other evergreen plants that provide exceptional winter interest? I have been reading but am interested to hear of others' experiences with different plants.

Enjoy your fall!


    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 10:12PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I have planted some kale and spinach for the winter. I also planted broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts but they may have gone in too late. I have harvested kale and spinach in the snow before.

Right now I am researching green manures and cover crops and debating about what I am going to do with those. It is hard to decide right now because I really don't know yet how many beds I will have. Dh is building them out of rock he gathers himself but he has been focusing on other parts of our property right now. In another 2 weeks I should have money for garlic and shallots which I will order and plant and I also have to gater things up for winterizing the roses.

I hopeto begin purchasing supplies to do the low tunnels in time for spring planting. Our last frost is mid-May but our spring is rather erratic so I want to use the tunnels to stabilize the growing conditions, but not this year.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 2:03PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Right now, I am still harvesting beans, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, peppers, and an occasional tomato. I will leave these in until weather or deer get them. (My deer tend to stay away in summer and return with armies through the winter.)

I have three beds planted for winter vegetables:
Red Russian Kale (my favorite green)
2 kinds Asian Mustard (new this year)
Bok Choi (new this year)
three kinds of lettuces
garlic (only for greens)

Last winter, I grew all of these, except kale, spinach, onions and garlic under tunnels made from tomato cages and floating row cover. Those four made it all winter without any cover at all. Our lowest temperature of the winter was 11 and everything made it through the whole season. It was my first winter garden and I was thrilled!

My beds that are "done" for the summer, but will not be used for winter, all have cover crops in them right now. I have used leftover legume seeds for these.

It's very interesting. As beans grow, their roots take nitrogen out of the soil and store it in little round nodules all over the roots. Then, once the plant starts to bloom and fruit, the nitrogen in the roots is used by the plant. If you cut down the plant just as it begins to flower, the nitrogen in the roots will be released into the soil.

I have considered using winter rye as a cover crop too, but since it's used by hunters in our area to attract deer, I have decided to stick with legume crops in late summer and fall as green manures.

Once these crops are cut down in their beds, I will spread compost over the beds and then top them off with a heavy mulch. They'll be ready to plant come spring.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 10:31PM
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Lots of good input!

I have been so busy with work and kids back to school stuff that I never got to start my seedlings. Would it be to late to start the seedlings now and pop a cover over them before the first frost? I've read that they won't really grow much when its cold out.

I've been cleaning out my beds and harvesting what's left and gritting my teeth at the deer damage. Now that the deer have figured out a way to jump over the fence without hitting a trellis, they've been regular visitors. They actually pulled the wire grids right off my trellises.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 10:45AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Depends on when you get your first frost, and on what you plant. Lettuce, for example can be ready to cut in 4 to 5 weeks, so you likely have time to get a good stand of that. Collards,(which you may or may not want), need a good head start. You could look for transplants of that plus things like cabbage, broccoli, etc. at the garden center.

I can tell you that I was late getting mine in last year, and though it's true the plants didn't grow very much once the cold weather moved in, between the thinnings and the partially grown plants, we still had something fresh at least once a week. Also, if you put your plants under cover from the start, MAYBE the deer won't find them. They didn't find mine.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 1:06PM
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I have a bit of time this weekend. So, I'm going to give some lettuce a try. Thanks for the advice!

(Hehe, one of the deer tried to eat one of the hungarian wax peppers. What a jolt it must have gotten.)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:23AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

I have bush beans (hopefully the fall crop will do better than the spring), Swiss chard, arugula, and lettuce. Also seeded cilantro and dill. When I pull the small patch of zinnias I'll sow more arugula. We eat a lot of that all winter.

In another week or so I'll add dianthus transplants ... maybe a few pansies the end of October. And I need to remember to sow the larkspur in November.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 11:46AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Ali, the lettuce seeds I put in about a week ago have just sprouted! So there's time for you too.

But for the rest of the potager, I'm starting to set into the ground the climbing roses I bought (as band size) in the Spring, hoping the ones rated as zone 6-b and warmer, will survive here at the zone edge. Will plant them today and then heavily mulch them at the first frost. The 3 I don't have room for yet will be sunk into the ground in 2-gallon pots, then mulched. Luckily I got a pile of composted manure delivered a few weeks ago, for just that eventuality.

I sort of hate to give up veggie space, but I had overestimated our needs for eggplants, tomatoes, stringbeans and squash. So next year, veggies only in the middle and roses at the fencing.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 2:01PM
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Ali-b...What are you planning to do now, to keep the deer out of your garden? More trellises?

I didn't put a fence around my garden. It's as much of a view/entertaining area as a potager/kitchen garden, so a big fence is not going to work. The deer have been visiting and sampling, but except for eating the leaves off of my purple raspberries, not too much damage.

They have been eating my roses (even the flowers on the rugosas) so I'm moving them next to the arbor and surrounding them with herbs. So far, they've left them alone.

I'm planting bee balm around the raspberries, so hopefully that will keep them out. I actually like my deer, as we only have a few, but it's been a challenge trying to grow things they don't like, or disguise the things they do :)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2010 at 12:53PM
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Lavender -- I do like deer but they've been causing a lot of damage especially to the tomatoes and the swiss chard. Hubby has said he'll help me put up a better fence. I have two ideas. I plan to get some 10' posts. Then I'll either staple chicken wire along the bottom and I'll string some wire at the top to keep them out. Alternately, I thought about making panels with 2x2"s and stapling deer netting to them and then attaching these to the posts. Still deciding what to do.

I'm glad they're reeking havoc at the end of the season rather than during the peak of the harvest.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 3:52PM
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