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.
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.
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.
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