Snow and Salad Greens

Welcome to 2012 at Minerva’s Garden.  Sorry for the lack of posts lately–had a family member with emergency surgery, so things have been hectic.  However, I’m back now!

The weather reports are saying that we might get a bit of snow tonight through Tuesday, so if you are living in the area and haven’t done so, you may want to take today to protect any sensitive plants that are still lingering outdoors.  I have salad greens outside under two and three layers of clear plastic, and so far this winter they have done great!  I picked a big bowlful of them last week, which we thoroughly enjoyed in our Saturday Cesar Salad and homeade pizza tradition.  With winter salad green production, because the temperatures have been so cold, it takes the plants much longer to recover and regrow than in warmer summer months, so I’ll have to wait a while before I can pick again, but still, it’s great to have some fresh produce from the garden! 

As you may remember from a previous post, I have some basil and lettuce and radicchio growing under lights indoors as well.  They are still pretty small, but the lettuce is about ready to pick at the baby stage, with leaves about four inches long, so that will be an additional source of greens for us.

Would love to hear from you–feel free to leave a message.  Do you do any winter vegetable gardening?  Will it be snowy in your area this weekend–let me know, because I love to hear from you!

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Planting Fall and Winter Veggi Beds

Now is a great time to plant seeds and starts of your favorite fall and winter-bearing vegetables. Actually, I have been planting since mid-July for this purpose. Some examples of seeds that work for when the temperatures drop would be snow peas  and broccoli(they need to be planted mid-July, however), all sorts of salad greens that can take some cold such as arugula, corn salad or mache, red and green mustard greens, and things like kale. Kale turned out to be especially tough last winter–what I planted in the fall had over a foot of snow dumped on top of it, and after it melted it all came back to life.  Also, I find that I have a lot less trouble with cabbage moths devouring my brassicas in the fall and winter times. Of course, as normal, you will keep your seed beds watered, by rain or by hand if it’s dry, until germination occurs, and then continue with regular watering until fall and winter rains take over that chore for you.

A couple of tricks I use to help extend the food growing season for cold-tolerant plants for year-round eating:

1–use thin pvc pipe to create hoops over your salad greens beds that you start now. You can cover them when the weather gets cold, which around here probably won’t be until the end of October. At the point where you are getting freezing temperatures, just keep them covered all the time, day and night, with clear visqueen plastic which can be held down easily with bricks or rocks. Rain water seeps in under the plastic and condenses on the plastic during warmer daytime temperatures, so no need to take plastic off during the day at this colder time of year.  It’s basically a mini, unheated greenhouse anywhere you need it.  The pipe and plastic can be reused for several years.

2–You can take a little chance and start some salad green seeds quite late in the season–late September or even first week of October. They will, if the weather cooperates, grow to about 2 inches tall before cold weather shuts their growth down. Just keep them covered with the plastic, and around February, when the temperatures start to warm a bit, they will take off, and you will have wonderful salad greens by the end of Feb. or so.

3–Start now, and plant a bed of salad greens.  You can continue planting a new bed every two or three weeks until temperatures get too cold for germination, and that way you will spread your usable harvest out throughout the fall and winter months because it will stagger their maturity dates.

Check out Territorial Seed Company for their wonderful catelogue of seeds that are appropriate for planting for fall and winter crops. Amazing the amount of stuff that will survive a winter, at least a somewhat normal winter, here!