Winter Vegetables

Getting Ready For Winter

There is not much left in the vegetable garden especially after temperatures dropped below 20º F.  I didn’t have time to cover the plants outside the cold frame: Mizuna, Broccoli Raab, Scallion, and Mustard Green.  But they perked up a little bit once the temperature climbed above 50º F.  Heavy snow is predicted for today so I harvested some Mizuna and Swiss Chard and steamed them with fresh tuna yesterday before they got buried under the snow.

This winter will be the second year we put up a cold frame.  Last year was our experiment in growing vegetables in winter under a cold frame without extra help from a heater.   We started the whole process very late last year and the winter was extreme, but we still had salad when it was freezing outside.  The frame nearly collapsed from heavy snow piled on it but it was very encouraging to be able to have fresh greens from our own garden in March.  We have assembled everything early this year.  We also added supporting bars to the hoops so we won’t have to hold our breath during a heavy snow fall.

Our cold frame last winter had become a little igloo.  The frame slightly collapsed inward from heavy snow.
Our cold frame last winter had become a little igloo. The frame slightly collapsed inward from heavy snow.
This year's cold frame with three additional supporting bars.
This year’s cold frame with three additional supporting bars.

I’ve sown Chinese Broccoli, Kale, Swiss chard, Chinese celery and Arugula in this plot in early September.  They’re growing quite nicely.  Mustard Green ‘Dragon Tongue’ sprouting up from fresh compost I added to the plot is a pleasant surprise.  Pac Choi seeds sown weeks ago also sprouted but turned out to be Mizuna instead.  This mislabeled seed package has become my problem lately since I frequently forget to label the seed pod packs when drying them.  Unfortunately they all tend to look alike.  Too late to sow another Pac Choi in there for this winter; they wouldn’t sprout until next spring.

Arugula and Swiss chard seedlings in early September.
Arugula and Swiss chard seedlings in early September.
Arugula and Swiss chard in late October
Arugula and Swiss chard in late October

Slugs have eaten all lettuce seedlings.  My second batch will have to be in the house as baby greens instead of full grown lettuce.  I put a beer filled container in there but only two slugs took the bait.  I think they only go for fresh beer, not the one that their comrades have already drowned in.  I picked off a few more fat slugs yesterday and don’t know when my next chance to check inside the frame will be, hopefully it will be cold enough to slow their metabolism down.

Chinese broccoli looks perky and happy in there.
Chinese broccoli looks perky and happy in there.
Swiss chard among Mustard green 'Dragon tongue' and Edible Chrysanthemum
Swiss chard among Mustard green ‘Dragon tongue’ and Edible Chrysanthemum

Now the slugs have moved on to devouring the Mustard green ‘Dragon tongue’ seedlings (above image).  Surprisingly enough they won’t touch the Edible Chrysanthemum sowed since spring.  It’s a vegetable worth growing because I can sow it once in spring and keep harvesting it until late fall.  I cut them again yesterday but left enough stems to see how they will weather this winter in the cold frame.

Snow is coming down today and expected to be around a foot by its end.  Hopefully I can make a path to the cold frame and pick some salad tomorrow.

 

Great references for growing winter vegetables:

  • Four-Season Harvest: Organic vegetables from your home garden all year long by Eliot Coleman
  • Salad Leaves For All Seasons: Organic growing from pot to plot by Charles Dowding

 

 

2 thoughts on “Winter Vegetables

    1. Well, the Mizuna tastes good, just not quite as sweet as Pac choi. I’ll have to be more disciplined about labeling seed trays. Happy Thanksgiving.

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