The Cold Weather Garden

| 11/22/2010 9:24:47 AM

WinterHarvestHandbookMy grandiose fall garden plans - lettuce, green onions, pickling cukes and radishes - never materialized.  I can only blame the time bandit. Before I knew it, October was upon us, and I had not planted any fall veggies.  Coincidentally, I had just ordered Eliot Coleman's "The Winter Harvest Handbook" from Amazon.  As I read through each chapter, I became more and more intrigued by this concept of continuing the harvest through the winter months.  If Eliot can do it in Maine, then I could certainly do it here on the Kansas/Oklahoma border!!

As a side note: this is an excellent book, rated 5 stars by 37 reviewers on Amazon thus far and soon to be given high marks by me also.  I found the history of cold weather gardening to be fascinating, as narrated by Eliot, proving that nothing is new under the sun.

And so I ordered a row tunnel cover from Burpee's website and planted a short row of spinach on October 3. This would be my initial foray into cool weather gardening, and so a short row would be my experiment. Spinach is one of the top cold-hardy vegetables.  As such, it will actually prefer our cool fall and winter weather to the stifling hot weather we have in the summertime. Like a nervous mother hen, I checked on my babies every single day, uncovering them to soak up the sun during the day, and lowering the cover at night to protect them from the cold.  As our nights began to dip into the 30s, I draped towels over the row cover for even better insulation.

October 20 Spinach 

Above photo ~ spinach sprouts on October 20.  Below photo ~ first spinach harvest on November 3. 

November 3 Harvest 

Oz Girl
6/22/2011 6:53:03 PM

Note to my readers: I honestly had better luck with my fall veggies in 2010 than I am having with our spring/summer veggies so far in 2011. Our lack of rainfall has definitely put the brakes on some of our summer growth, along with the fact that I'm currently working two jobs and just don't have the time to devote to our garden like I wish I could. Next summer will be better, right?!! :-)

Allan Douglas
12/4/2010 2:26:05 PM

This is very encouraging news, and I've already hopped over to Amazon to add Winter Harvest Handbook to my wish list, thanks for the recommendation. I'm in Tennessee and this was my first year to try gardening. My summer success was only so-so, but I'm strutting around crowing like a rooster about the fact that despite several frosts and two snowfalls I'm still harvesting lettuce, spinach and fancy salad greens from my little garden. I too want to keep this going as long as possible. Thanks!

Oz Girl
11/29/2010 8:55:44 AM

Sandi, I have to agree with you - no bugs, and hardly any weeds. We had a horribly hot summer this year and the bugs were terrible. I couldn't garden the first 2 months without being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I love the "no bug" part about fall/winter gardening. I saw an occasional grasshopper the first month or so, but no more bugs now. And the row cover provides condensation so hardly any watering either! I think I only watered the spinach the first few weeks, and that was only twice a week, if that. I'm looking forward to next fall, and planning a few more leaf and root veggies. Hopefully I'll have some cold frames and a few more row covers then. Thanks for stopping by Sandi! :)

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