Many people think of summer as the season to reap the benefits of a vegetable garden, but the growing season doesn’t have to end when the days get shorter. Most climates allow for gardening to continue into the winter. With the right equipment and thoughtful choices in plant selection you can grow fresh food in your garden throughout the coldest months.
Summer is known for its bright, flavorful produce. Vibrant fruits and vegetables grow well in warm weather but are too delicate to survive lower temperatures. You will need to turn to hardier fare in the winter. Kale, carrots, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and Swiss chard can all survive a bit of winter chill.
Proper planning is another must when planting a winter garden. The location of your plants is key. Because the days are shorter in the winter, you must make sure your garden is in an area that gets the most sunlight possible. A south facing bed is ideal, especially if it can be located near your house. Taller plants can be placed in the northern section of the bed, allowing shorter plants access to sunlight without being in the other plants’ shade.
It’s tough to think about anything other than those beautiful ripe tomatoes just falling off the vines in the summer, but it’s important to start your winter garden while it’s still warm. Choose the plants you wish to grow and get them started. This can mean planting root vegetables in early autumn or starting other plants from seed. If you find it became cooler without you realizing, you can also buy pre-started plants instead of starting from seed.
Once your plants have grown large enough to transplant, get them in the ground. This is best done as soon as possible, especially if you have aboveground plants. These vegetables can be hurt by frost, so get them planted early to give them as much time to stretch their roots as possible.
When planting winter crops it’s a good idea to space them a little bit further apart than you would in the summer. This will help to make sure air is circulating, reducing the risk of fungus or other problems. It’s also a good idea to make use of mulch. Mulches like sawdust, shredded newspaper, peat, or bark will help keep your soil warmer – crucial for when the temperature gets colder.
Don’t assume that your plants are hardy enough to survive any temperature. Help them along by building structures to help keep heat in. One of the simplest way s to do this is to build a cold frame. A cold frame is a small structure placed over garden beds to help keep heat from sunlight inside. Cold frames can be bought pre-made, but they can also be easily constructed. The easiest way to do this is to prop an old window up with bricks or cinder blocks.
If you’re interested in investing in a winter garden, building a greenhouse will ensure you a variety of thriving produce no matter what the season. In the right conditions even summer vegetables can be grown in the dead of winter. Greenhouses can be heated and equipped with irrigation systems, making them every bit as functional as a summer garden.
Finally, consider planting some of your garden in pots. This will allow you to reap the benefits of a sunny day while still being able to protect the plants from frost by bringing them inside once it gets cold.
A winter garden is no more difficult to create than a summer garden. With some small alterations to your backyard you can find yourself with a steady supply of delicious, healthy produce no matter what the season.
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This article was provided by Amy at Lassiter Excavating.