In the face of arctic cold, with snow blanketing the ground, I brought my 2018 – 2019 winter garden to a close.
This year, I coddled three different beds with a variety of cold-hardy crops, all the way into mid-January. We’ve never made it this long.
In exchange for my diligence in covering the beds when the cold- threatened, and peeling back the protective layers when the sun returned, yesterday I harvested:
- Several small daikon radishes
- Broccoli rabe
- A singular carrot
- Two parsnips
- A variety of kale and chard leaves
- Three small cabbages
- More salsify than I know how to use
- A few random hakurei turnips
- A teensy little spinach
Winter gardening lessons I learned this year:
- These crops all survived when temps unexpectedly dropped into the nid-20s one night. The straw tucked around them kept them alive even though the beds were exposed. (The forecast only called for lows around freezing… that’s what I get for believing the weathermen.)
- Temps in the upper 20s / low 30s barely phased these plants.
- Daikon radishes and hakurei turnips actually germinated and grew despite the cold.
- I need to plant only in the centers of the boxes because the soil freezes at the sides.
- I need to invest in better cold frames and low tunnels.
- Winter gardening is tricky because most cold weather plants won’t germinate in the summer heat; but by the time it’s cold enough to germinate, it’s too late for them to reach a decent size to survive into the winter months.
- I hope I like salsify! I planted it because I couldn’t find any grocery stores that carried it – now I have a ton of it! And by a ton, I mean around a pound. Which is a lot when you don’t know how a vegetable tastes!