Our friend Pete explains how Winter can be a great time to start gardening, the best vegetables to plant this season, how to prepare and more.
If you are not ready to put away the gloves and tools, gardening does not have to end when summer ends. You can have a thriving winter garden throughout the winter months. Growing vegetables during winter is easier than you think. The key to successfully growing is to know the right vegetables to plant in your zone. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can grow vegetables well into the winter months.
Winter gardening can add beauty and fragrances to the season, less water is used during the winter, and bug activity seems to go dormant during cooler months. Some winter regions may require more plant protection from cold temperatures than other cold weather regions, so it may be necessary to provide outside structures, such as mini hoop houses, mini greenhouses or polytunnels.
Try growing winter vegetables that are easy to harvest and store. The first thing you need to do is consider the amount of space you have, the type of soil, whether or not your soil needs amending, if you have available space on your balcony or patio, do you have indoor window sills that get adequate sunlight, do you have space in your greenhouse. Most winter vegetables only grow in full sun, while others require partial sun. You might even want to consider container gardening. Container gardening provides the option of relocating to sunny locations or moving indoors when required. In winter months, it is always better to use organic fertilizers or plant food, as opposed to synthetic fertilizers, as they are slow release, and you don’t have to fertilize as often during the winter months.
There are several cool weather or cold-hardy vegetables that get sweeter and more delicious if they go through a frost period. Some of these vegetables are beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, green onions, white and red onions, lettuce, kale, parsnips, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, broad beans, kohlrabi, arugula, Asian greens and many more. Instead of planting all your vegetables at the same time, stagger various plants throughout the cold months, and you will have a constant supply of fresh vegetables. You may want to consider planting vegetables that are cut and come again in order to harvest fresh vegetables throughout the winter months.
In all regions, if growing outdoors, it is best to mulch with fall leaves, straw or hay to help protect the roots from the cold temperatures. You can also grow a vast amount of vegetables indoors during the cold months, such as herbs (basil, sage, dill, oregano, sage, onion chives, garlic chives and bay leaves), chili peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, microgreens, lettuce and kale. They will require sunlight, water and nutrients, and most importantly, they are protected from garden pests.
If you are not planting vegetables in the winter months, it is always recommended that you add ground cover, such as straw, fall leaves or hay to your garden area to help prevent soil erosion and add nutrients for the upcoming spring.
Words courtesy of @home_gardening_with_pete (Homegardenwithpete@yahoo.com)