Vegetable Gardening in Fall/Winter?

cleo1717(z7 TN)August 6, 2005

I live in Knoxville. This past spring, we built several raised beds to use for vegetable gardening this year. I had a horrible time finding decent soil to fill them up with. A year ago, I bought some for my flower borders from a company IÂd heard raves about and it, to put it bluntly, sucked. So, I ended up filling the beds with 50% bagged topsoil and 50% bagged compost. I was hoping that this would work better. It hasnÂt. :-D ItÂs obvious that thereÂs some kind of deficiency in that mixture because almost all of my plants are yellow(and some have almost purple veins in the leaves). I added an organic fertilizer when I planted and IÂve been foliar-feeding them with a fish emulsion/kelp mix. TheyÂre doing better but itÂs obvious that my soil is horrible. IÂm composting up a storm so that I can replace a bunch of the soil with compost for next year. I also plan to get the soil tested. However, itÂs kind of depressing to see my plants just creeping along. I had visions of being smothered by my huge crop of heirloom tomatoes. ;-) My gardening bug has not been satisfied at all this summer. IÂve been reading some articles about year-round gardening. Eliot Coleman is one of the authors of some of those articles and I find his technique fascinating. IÂm interested in growing some crops for this fall and if possible, during the winter. Last year I over-wintered some Bright Lights swiss chard in my flower border, but IÂd like to be able to actually harvest greens during the winter. Can anyone give me advice on fall/winter vegetable gardening? IÂm thinking about putting hoops covered with plastic on two of my raised beds and I just got the Fall Territorial Garden Seed catalog. IÂve just never tried to do this before and I could use some advice.

Some crops IÂm thinking of trying:

Bright Lights Swiss Chard











A great article if youÂre interested:



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sissyz(Z5 NorthIL)

Sugar Snap Peas!! They do really well in our winters!
If I were you, I would sow the carrots now, and keep them in the ground, over the winter, just pull as you need them. It gets cold enough for them not to rot, but they don't freeze and turn woody either!

Also, Brussel Sprouts do alot better in our fall/winter than they do in our winter/spring. We had a day in the high 80's that fried them right off the stalk about seven weeks into it...grrr
Sproutless Sissy

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 11:08PM
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due_east(z6 Nashville)


I had almost the same experience. Most "compost" sold by the yard around here is shredded wood, dyed black and sprayed with stuff to make it smell like manure, pure

What I am going to do is to take the stuff I bought out of my planters and till it into a section of my yard this winter along with some home made compost & leaves and then refill my planter with that next spring.

My neighbor who has been gardening successfully for
many years told me that no matter how good of compost you have, it doesn't have all of the trace minerals and other stuff. It's better to take your yard dirt and amend it.
Good luck

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 9:22AM
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rizzir(z7b TN)

I tilled up a portion of the clay underneath to mix into my leaf mulch/compost/manure mix and everything seemed to like that just fine. Yes, it was work, but everything seems very very happy. And now that the moisture has returned, the worms are near the surface again so I am hoping next year the beds will be even better.

As to compost, if you are not composting your kitchen scraps, start now! I get fantastic compost from mine. And it's usually full of tiny earthworm starts, which is always a good sign! (So I guess I'm not heat composting so much as I'm worm composting. I don't care - the stuff that comes out of the bottom of the barrel is fantastic.)

Hmmm... brussels sprouts... we love them but had never thought of trying to grow them - I'll give them a shot!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 7:29PM
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When is the correct time to plant fall lettuce, and what varieties do best in the Knoxville area?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 2:36PM
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farmerbell(6b TN)

The purple veining in the leaves probably indicates a phosphorus deficiency. You can search online and find find solutions. I think you need some of the native soil in your beds to add all the trace elements and bacteria you need. I bury kitchen scraps in my vegetable garden all the time. Just as rizzir said you will get earthworms and thus you will get their castings. Get bags of leaves in the fall that your neighbors put out for the trash and work some into the soil and make a pile somewhere in your yard and let them decompose for about a year and then mix the leaf mold into your garden. If you have grass clippings, these are great to mix in your leaf pile. It takes a while, but eventually you will have great soil. Don't give up yet!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 6:39PM
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I started using the raised bed method a couple of years ago. I started with a mixture of topsoil, peat, sand and dirt. It wouldn't hold moisture. This year I dug it out and replaced it with Miracle Gro garden soil. What a difference it makes. My heirloom tomatoes were over 6 feet tall and loaded with fruit. My impatiens were the biggest and most beautiful I have ever had. I have just made up 5 more 3'x16' raised beds filled with the garden soil and I can't wait to see how my fall garden turns out.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 1:57AM
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I am in Nashville, is it too late to start seeding these now? I was interested as well in a fall garden.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 11:51AM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

Hey Regina -- what did I miss? You got a yard again??

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 12:51AM
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Sorry to revive an older thread but this nice weather has me thinking of planting more winter vegetables and I was wondering what other people have planted.

I have snow peas, red and green cabbage, brussel sprouts, lettuce, spinach, radishes, and scallions. Sounds like a lot but nothing is really doing that great. I only have 2 spinach plants that made it past their seedling stage and everything is growing sooo slow. Plus this past cold spell we had might have done in my snow peas, they've developed a brown tinge. I'm thinking of trying some sugar snap peas like someone else suggested.

Anyone else have vegetables growing now? What kinds? How are they doing?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 12:50PM
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I have lettuce, kale, spinach, turnips (actually, mostly greens), and brussel sprouts. The were all damaged by the hefty frost we had a couple weeks ago, but it didn't kill them. The brussel sprouts were planted in August or September. They haven't grown much so I am thinking as long as I can keep them alive through winter I might get something in the spring. Bottom line, everything looks a little rough, but isn't dead by any means.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 10:27PM
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We grow under plastic cover during the winter(hoops).Should you need extra protection on very cold nights, you can use row covers that help a little too. We are still harvesting large amounts of carrots, lettuce, beets, turnips, onions, kale, mesclun, radishes and asian greens and will do so through February. Granted our mild winter has been a big help so far! A small tip, if one uses grass clippings or leaves as mulch from a neighbor's yard, be sure they do not use a lawn maintenance service or spray their lawns themselves, as they could have pesticide residue on them. I would suggest that you get your soil tested where you are growing your vegetables, so you will know if there are soil deficiencies and what kind, so you can amend your soil correctly. The basis for everything is good soil. If your soil is balanced, then your growing efforts will pay off! Hope this helps in some small way.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 12:46AM
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