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kappydell

Gardening Through the Winter

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Since moving to zone 7 from zone 4, I am completely reworking my gardening techniques.  I have discovered the winter garden, much to my great glee.  Even now (Nov 24) my garden is full of wonderful crops, all cool weather vegetables; even the bell peppers and green snap breans are still producing albeit much slower.  We have only had to cover those crops twice when we were given frost warnings.  Imagine my delight, however, to go out the next morning, and instead of finding frozen and dead plants, to see vigorous, lush greenery!  

For thanksgiving I enjoyed a mixed green saute (spinach, collards, kale) and a romaine salad, all freshly picked 30 min. before dinner!  So as another gardening year approaches, I am in the planning stages of 2019's garden improvements.  For beginners we will be starting much earlier, having the bulk of the garden completed a month before we would have even started in zone 4!  Yippee!

During the course of my research I have discovered that there are MANY cold tolerant vegetables that I had not even comsidered; and particular cultivars are more cold hardy than others.  I would never have known (before I researched it) that green & white swiss chard, for example is more cold tolerant than the multicolored or red stemmed chards.  Savoy cabbage, which I never was that interested in, is much more cold hardy than the smooth types, so I am MUCH more interested in it now.  

 

For others who might be considering winter season gardening, I am posting a list of cold hardiness of various veggies - tomatoes, for example, tend to be killed at 32 degrees, yet some cauliflower cultivars survive as low as -15 (yep, minus 15 degrees)! So won't you join me in planning a winter garden for next year, if only for a fun mental exercise?  You will be amazed at what will thrive below 32 degrees!

 

from www.sustainablemarketfarming.com       Here’s our temperature list at which various crops die:

 35°F (2°C):  Basil.
32°F (0°C):  Bush beans, cauliflower curds, corn, cowpeas, cucumbers, eggplant, limas, melons, okra, some Pak Choy, peanuts, peppers, potato vines, squash vines, sweet potato vines, tomatoes.
27°F (-3°C): Most cabbage, Sugarloaf chicory (takes only light frosts), radicchio.
 25°F (-4°C): Broccoli heads, chervil, chicory roots for chicons, and hearts, probably Chinese Napa cabbage (Blues), dill, endive (hardier than lettuce, Escarole more frost-hardy than Frisée), annual fennel, large leaves of lettuce (protected hearts and small plants will survive even colder temperatures), some mustards and oriental greens (Maruba Santoh, mizuna, most pak choy, Tokyo Bekana), onion scallions, radicchio. Also white mustard cover crop.
22°F (-6°C): Arugula, Tatsoi. (both may survive colder than this.) Possibly Chinese Napa cabbage (Blues), Maruba Santoh, Mizuna, Pak Choy, Tokyo Bekana with rowcover.
20°F (-7°C): Some beets, cabbage heads (the insides may still be good even if the outer leaves are damaged), celeriac, celtuce (stem lettuce), some corn salad, perhaps fennel, some unprotected lettuce – some OK to 16°F (-16 °C), some mustards/oriental greens (Tendergreen, Tyfon Holland greens), radishes, turnips with mulch to protect them, (Noir d’Hiver is the most cold-tolerant variety).
17°F (-8°C): Barley (cover crop)
15°F (-9.5°C): Some beets (Albina Verduna, Lutz Winterkeeper), beet leaves, broccoli leaves, young cabbage, celery (Ventura) with rowcover (some inner leaves may survive at lower than this), cilantro, endive, fava beans (Aquadulce Claudia), garlic tops may be damaged but not killed, Russian kales, kohlrabi, perhaps Komatsuna, some covered lettuce, especially small and medium-sized plants (Marvel of  Four Seasons, Rouge d’Hiver, Winter Density), curly leaf parsley, flat leaf parsley, oriental winter radish with mulch for protection (including daikon), large leaves of broad leaf sorrel, turnip leaves, winter cress.
12°F (-11°C): Some cabbage (January King, Savoy types), carrots (Danvers, Oxheart), multi-colored chard, most collards, some fava beans (not the best flavored ones), garlic tops if fairly large, most fall or summer varieties of leeks (Lincoln, King Richard), most covered lettuce (Freckles, Hyper Red Rumpled Wave, Parris Island, Tango) , large tops of potato onions, Senposai, some turnips (Purple Top).
10°F (-12°C): Beets with rowcover, Purple Sprouting broccoli for spring harvest, Brussels sprouts, chard (green chard is hardier than multi-colored types), mature cabbage, some collards (Morris Heading), Belle Isle upland cress, some endive (Perfect, President), young stalks of Bronze fennel, perhaps Komatsuna, some  leeks (American Flag), Oriental winter radish, (including daikon), rutabagas, (if mulched), tops of shallots, large leaves of savoyed spinach (more hardy than flat leafed varieties), tatsoi, Yukina Savoy. Also oats cover crop.
5°F (-15°C): Garlic tops if still small, some kale (Winterbor, Westland Winter), some leeks (Bulgarian Giant, Laura, Tadorna), some bulb onions (Walla Walla), potato onions and other multiplier onions, smaller leaves of savoyed spinach and broad leaf sorrel.
0°F (-18°C): Chives, some collards (Blue Max, Winner), corn salad, garlic, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, Vates kale (although some leaves may be too damaged to use), Even’ Star Ice-Bred Smooth Leaf  kale, a few leeks (Alaska, Durabel); some onion scallions (Evergreen Winter Hardy White, White Lisbon), parsnips, salad burnet, salsify, some spinach (Bloomsdale Savoy, Olympia, Tyee). Also small-seeded cover crop fava beans.
Even Colder: Overwintering varieties of cauliflower are hardy down to -5°F (-19°C).
Many of the Even Star Ice Bred varieties are hardy down to -6°F (-20°C).
Walla Walla onions sown in late summer are hardy down to -10°F (-23°C).
Winter Field Peas and Crimson clover (used as cover crop) are hardy down to -10°F (-23°C).
Hairy vetch and white Dutch clover cover crops are hardy to -30°F (-34°C)
Sorrel and some cabbage (January King) are said to be hardy in zone 3, -30 to-40°F (-34 to -40°C)
Winter wheat and winter rye (cover crops) are hardy to -40°F (-40°C).

 

Attached are some pics of my growing garden taken Nov 20th after we had a freeze.  (The third is just for "Awwwww……..")

 

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I just had to add this....

The term “ice-bred” may be unfamiliar to you, but it simply refers to the process through which the plants were bred and developed under extremely cold growing conditions and selected for their resistance and ability to perform in bitterly cold and unpleasant weather.

Unlike the “improved” hybrid and patented plant varieties that are commonly developed within the commercial seed industry, these hardy greens are stable, open pollinated, and suitable for producing and saving your own seed in the backyard garden setting.

Even Star Farm’s Originals

The gene lines that I am describing were developed by Brett Grohsgal of Even Star Organic Farm in Eastern Shore, Maryland. The seeds are being offered through Fedco Seeds, which currently carries an Ice-bred Arugula, Even Star Champion Collards, and a similarly developed variety of Land Race Tatsoi.

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I'm familiar with the term "Land Race" but hadn't heard of ice-bred.  And not hybrids!  :thumbs:  

 

Thank you for sharing your research.  I copied all of it and stuck it into my Gardening file.  Cuz ya never know where we'll be next.  :rolleyes:  

 

MtRider  ...you two are amazing women with those gardens and such!!  CUTE puppy!!

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I agree with you Mt_R, they are amazing. 

 

The two tomato plants and two jalapeño plants we planted in the spring and survived our intense summer heat, are flourishing beyond my expectations. Jalapeños have over 3 dozen jalapeños ready to pick and dozens of green tomatoes!  

 

Time to turn the garden & plant, here.  Thanks Kappydell for inspiring me. :hug3:

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Awesome garden Kappy! A definite advantage being in the south and gardening. And the "awe" picture is absolutely awesome!  :wub:

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One trick I suspect you already know is to pot up a pepper plant, cut the top back a lot, and bring the pot inside to protect from cold.  It will sulk all winter, but in March it will be a foot or two high with a huge root ball, raring to go.

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No I did not know that one....when it starts looking like pepper freezing weather I'll have to try that.  so far covering them has worked nicely.   I'm also thinking of starting a celery stump from the grocery for spring to see what happens.  All that is recommended for planting outdoors in Dec is onions, but things progress quicky from Jan. on.  Our Jersey Wakefield cabbages are starting to form heads.....the romaine lettuce has survived two light frosts (30 degrees) nicely, uncovered.  Mary still wants to cover the brassica, I don't think its necessary after the research, but we do it, it wont hurt.  

On a side note, I've always wondered why more people don't seem to garden in the winter even around here.  I think I discovered the reason today.  I got a nice new seed catalog from a south Carolina seed supplier.  There are people doing winter gardens like ours in South Carolina, but you would never know it from looking at their seed catalogs.  Even the winter hardy crops are touted as "early" or "heat resistant" and "slow to bolt" but NOT ONE WORD about winter-hardy or wintering over, or winter-growing.  Not one.  Apparently nobody knows it can be done!  WELLLLLLLL!  No wonder our neighbors pass by daily and check out the garden and give us thumb's up.  I guess we are not only d**m yankees, but also crazy homesteaders as well. I prefer to think "good examples".  Of course we also have our game camera set up to photograph any garden raiders....just in case. 

Heaven only knows what they would think if they knew I am going to feast on all those pesky green-brier vines this spring.  Probably just shake their heads and think to themselves "aint she just special?"  Southerners know what that means (I had to be told, LOL)  :sassing: ( <<< a special person)

 

UPDATE --- temps getting down in the high 20s tonight, what my mother used to call a "hard freeze".  A test to see how hardy these plants really are, since we planted what we could find/buy that was cool weather loving, not the specifically bred stuff.  We did cover most of it, need to get a couple more tarps on payday, I think, if things survive as well as I hope.  (fingers crossed for those few kale, collard and small brussels sprouts we could not get covered with all the others.)

Edited by kappydell
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Well!  The good new is that the hard freeze came and went (2 nights).  The green pepper plants were kilt dead (that's twice as dead as simply killed, dead, I was told as a child...)  But then again, their lasting this long was a pleasant surprise since peppers are NOT known as cold weather plants.  Everything else came through with flying colors, even the stuff  we didn't get covered.  Hooooray! 

This winter gardening experiment is turning out surprisingly well!

We are already planning next springs' work...once the income tax return gets back, we want to put in a third raised bed (another 6x30 feet) and we are considering a compost tumbler (since neither one of us are in any shape to turn a compost heap over).  A wood chipper is also in our future, since we will be constantly logging/pruning to keep the tree overgrowth at bay.  We figure we can use the wood mulch chips to mulch pathways (around the garden beds, or down to the creek, for example) to help us keep them open.     

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Another hard freeze, no casulaties.  We did cover, just in case, not sure if it was necessary or not.  Regardless, everything came through swimmingly.  Uncovered for the next few "warmer" days (upper 30 & 40s).  Picked spinach again.  Noticed one of the nicest "extras" of this winter garden..no bugs!  Plants have no nibbles, so they are almost picture perfect in appearance.  I ran into one of the neighbors down the road - a country boy, he complimented us on the garden and we discovered he also likes to grow things during the winter.  He also showed us some "fat wood" he had scored (free for the cutting & taking).  I have heard of fat wood but never have actually seen it in person until he showed us some.  

Tonight we were discussing next years garden - planning on a little more organization for the winter crops so they will be picked in sections, freeing them garden sections for spring planting as they are harvested.  When we started this year we had no idea there were so many crops for winter growing so our planning was kind of hit and miss, and last minute.  This year I have already found sources for winter crops - January King Cabbage, All-The-Year-Round Cauliflower, Evenstar Landrace Collards combination, Gigante Winter Kohlrabi, Winter Density lettuce, for example for their specific cold tolerances; and for summer crops tolerant of high heat and humidity: Stickless Wonder Yard Long Beans,  Southern Giant Curled Mustard (a "lettuce" mustard), Bettersnap bush southern peas (for southern peas and for snaps), Edisto cantaloupe, Tropic tomatoes &  Floradade tomatoes (our tomatoes died in the heat).  

After Christmas I will be setting up my florescent lights for seed starting, since most plants available from Wal Mart are not specifically bred for temperature extremes.  I also want to get my camillias this year - pink ones for pretty and a couple tea camillias as a source of tea leaves (part of the edible landscaping plan).  I would like to get some muscadine grapes in, but before we work on the lower part of the yard I have no idea where I would put them in as a permaculture planting.  I did find some (expensive) muscadines to purchase this last summer, so I was able to confirm that they are something I would want to plant - they were huge, juicy and delicious!  

 

 

 

 

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Kappy, had to chuckle a bit...we bought a grow light as well as the mat.  I told hubby, better be careful, the neighbors might call the law about strange lights upstairs at the homestead!  We'll keep them white and dim...no blue or green ones! :laughkick:

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LOL We2. What's you got growing up stairs girl?  Duuuude.

 

Kappy, I always use fat wood to start a fire in the fireplace. It catches really easy and stays lit until the other wood catches.

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Wow, Kappy.  Even reading those names sounds thrilling!  [can you tell I missssss gardening??]

 

MtRider  :lois: 

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We2 - If I get raided I'll just offer to take the police officers' requests for transplants of their own.  Specially "maters". All good ol' boys love 'maters.  LOL.  Imagine their disappointment t only finding vegetables!  Mt Rider, looking at those seed catalogs nd planning is the only thing that used to help during the winter days up north.  Did you have to give up gardening?  That would be tragic, indeed.  Mary is already worrying that my neck surgery will impede my helping her put in the garden...Hey, I don't need to move my head to dig furrows.  They might be a trifle crooked, but you know what the drunken farmer told his neighbor....crooked rows hold more crops.   I'll have the only contour cultivated raised beds in the nation!:americanflag:

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Sounds like you have a great plan, Kappydell. Looking forward to seeing pics and hearing about all your successes. 

 

Your comments about the plant lights, brought back a memory.  30+ years ago, I gave my little brother a ziplock bag 1/2 full of jalapeños, rolled up to squish out the air. He left, got pulled over, the officer saw the baggie and thought he had scored on an arrest, until he opened the bag. Lol.  My little bro shared his bounty and was let go. 

 

The 2 tomatoe plants in the front of our house are laden with tomatoes. The one in the backyard is covered with large cherry tomatoes. The jalapeños are needing to be picked about once a week. The beet leaves are flourishing too. I’m seeing volunteer onions sprouting. There are also 2 tiny cactus growing now. Too small to identify. It would be awesome if they are strawberry cactus.  Years ago, I spent hours, finding and harvesting some, out in the desert.  Only got a handful but I recall I planted a couple. :shrug:  My luck, they’ll turn out to be chollas. :008Laughing:

 

Oh, and the avocado I planted in the lick tank of mulch, is growing like a weed. Even sprouting a new set of leaves, even in the cold weather we’ve had. I just hope next summer doesn’t kill it. I’ve planted every.single.avacado seed, watched them sprout and wither up and die in the heat. 

 

I found a tiny tomato sprout in the lawn, in front of the chicken coop, transplanted it into a pot.  It’s now about 2 inches tall and surviving, next to the avocado tree. I transplanted all the volunteer camomile into a pot and it also looks like it will survive. 

 

Hoping to turn the soil in the garden and plant, after Christmas. 

 

 

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I just HAD to take some January pics of the winter garden.  On Sunday, extreme cold (for this area) is predicted with lows of 26 degrees.  We will cover the garden, and hope for the best, but some things might get nipped.  So I took pics for posterity.  You can see the broccoli and cabbage are ready to go, also the spinach and lettuce are ready to pick.  (We have friends willing to take our "excess" ….LOL....why did we know that would happen?   ;)   On to the pics!

 

This is the full garden shot.....then the individual veggies (how many can you identify?  Last are the upper yard shots, showing how we cleaned up the upper yard (and the brushy beyond, which is this years project....

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Two beds - working on figuring out how to put a high tunnel over them plus another narrower bed.

 

broccoli, kale, lettuce, spinach, collards....oh my!

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Next picking of broccoli

 

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Brussels sprouts, two plantings.  the bigger ones have teensy sprouts starting on the stems.

 

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Morris heading kale.  The stems are where we made lower leaf pickings...they kept getting taller & taller.....like palm trees LOL

 

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Cabbage in foreground, then spinach, two kinds of leaf lettuce, carrots & finally beets.  I need lots more radish seeds to succession plant next winter;  

the radishes were especially sweet grown in the cool weather.

 

IMG_3619.thumb.JPG.0ea6cc51f7f2770413cf5d84646ebc2f.JPGMixed kales - some "ragged" some smooth, some red.....IMG_3620.thumb.JPG.9dba1efb376d5cec794f1a785613b33e.JPG

Georgia collards on the left, heading collards on the stems, "blue" collards on the right (dk green with red veining)

 

Now for the yard shots....

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We cut out lots of brush & trees between the bigger ones to improve air flow.....IMG_3606.thumb.JPG.b82867e76eb655da49a6e045c40d8bab.JPG

You can see the brushy, puny trees in the overgrown area that we will clean out this summer.  

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That concludes our garden tour.  People driving by stop and compliment us on it.  We had a lot of fun with this winter garden, hoping we can save it ALL thru the 29 degree nights coming up!

Edited by kappydell
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Loved looking at your pics. Thanks for sharing! You and Mary have done a wonderful job. Lots of work there but it's really paying off. You're lucky you can garden in four seasons. 

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Had to call DH to view your pics.  We came from MN long ago and gardened there....and Maui [sort of] and here.  We're just GREEN with envy at all the green growing things you're able to do.  LOTS of work represented there...and we know that too.  :thumbs: for both you and Chainsaw Mary!!  LOL  Maybe one day I'll have a Maui garden...iffen I can figure how to keep those danged tropical BUGS from ravaging everything. 

 

You mention sweeter radish.  Yes, in our COOL SUMMERS up at this altitude, we grew sweet broccoli - big as dinner plates.  IF we could keep the deer from munching them.  <_<    And the root crops like turnips....oh my!  Twice the size of softballs and crisp...not pithy.  Tasty...not fiery HOT!  Cuz they thrive in cooler temps.  Perfect for your winter.  In-ground carrot storage means no wilting carrots to hurry to use.  Light freeze on lot of root crops makes them better.  We noticed that some veggies are a completely different taste when grown in different temps/conditions.

 

THANKS for sharing!!  :happy0203:

MtRider  ...ah, some day we'll garden again!  :lois: 

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11 hours ago, Mt_Rider said:

You mention sweeter radish.  Yes, in our COOL SUMMERS up at this altitude, we grew sweet broccoli - big as dinner plates.  IF we could keep the deer from munching them.  <_<    And the root crops like turnips....oh my!  Twice the size of softballs and crisp...not pithy.  Tasty...not fiery HOT!  Cuz they thrive in cooler temps.  Perfect for your winter.  In-ground carrot storage means no wilting carrots to hurry to use.  Light freeze on lot of root crops makes them better.  We noticed that some veggies are a completely different taste when grown in different temps/conditions.

 

We are learning this.  Have to try turnips this upcoming winter.  Didn't care for them much grown in the heat, too  cabbage-core-y and hot.  I might find a new veggie to love!!  Besides, I have an interesting recipe for turnips....kraut! 

I did not get pics of the kohlrabi, but those are something Mary & I used to wait for each spring eagerly.  Soooo good as long as they grew in the cool temps and soooo strong if it got warm.  We have a couple rows tucked in this garden though, and those stems are starting to swell! 

I'm looking forward to finding the heal-all patch that came up wild last March.  I want to transplant some into a location on our lot, to avoid losing them to someone mowing them down (not realizing their utility, and not recognizing their odd beauty).  That side of the yard is too close to our crabby neighbor to leave them to thrive on faith alone.  

We are getting some fairly cold weather this week, and especially this weekend.  Tarps are on stand-by!

Mary is reading this as I type and sez hello.  She is eager to get out the chainsaw and get started while it is cool yet.  She offers firewood, if you need any (but the freight charges might be a trifle steep....) Lumberjack, Chainsaw, Woodworks

Edited by kappydell
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Didn't you plant WallaWalla onions?  How did they do?  I always understood those were long-day onions that wouldn't bulb up in the deep south.  

 

The fellow came by with his huge tractor-like machine to clear the brush and wisteria-pythons that have overgrown the place in the past several years.  Took me six months to save up the cash to pay him.  And then he damaged one of his cutting blades and, while trying to hammer it back into a usable shape, noticed his front tire was flat.  All the wayyy flat.  So he limped up to the driveway to load it for home and, while we were talking, we both noticed one of his rear tires going flat.  Did you know that one of those huge tractor tires costs about three thousand dollars?

 

Some younger fellows with chainsaw, handsaws, and axes are coming this weekend.

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We made turnip kraut and it tasted like turnips.......

not our cup of tea and we did not try it again. But really till you try it...

 

Hiring a tractor can be expensive, his tires must not have been the best before he came to your place, Ambergris, but they are not your expense.

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