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What to plant and harvest in the winter vegetable gardens

What to plant and harvest in the winter vegetable garden

You might be ready for a break from your flower beds once winter arrives, but why not grow some delicious edibles while the rest of your garden is snoring? It doesn’t take much work or much space, it’s a lot more interesting than pruning roses, and the rewards are great. Chances are pretty good that you have room in your garden to tuck in a few Swiss chard starts or leafy braising greens. These types of edibles remind us that in our gentle climate we can have beauty – and food – in our gardens year round.

 

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Kale is an easy winter crop.

There are plenty of edibles that you can plant in winter vegetable gardens, including garlic, leeks, onions, radishes, lettuce, peas, potatoes, chard, spinach, rhubarb, and other leafy greens such as bok choy and kale. If you’ve already planted these yummy treats, then you can harvest them straight through winter. If you’re looking do a little wintertime planting, here are some tips.

Garlic – Set out nursery-purchased bulbs (separated but unpeeled) four inches apart. Don’t water them in. It’s best to wait until shoots poke up before watering for the first time. Better yet, let the rain water them for you. Garlic takes up very little room and needs little attention.

Leeks – Nursery starts are inexpensive and plentiful. They can be harvested throughout the year and are unfazed by our mild winters.

Onions – This is where your well-amended soil is important. Onions love rich soil – not too sandy or clayey. And they like regular water. You can sow onion seeds, but it’s easier to buy bulbs (called “sets”) from a nursery or online source. Don’t try to plant grocery store onions because it’s unlikely to work. The best time to plant onion sets is January and February. (For green onions, or scallions, pull up the plants when they are about six weeks old.)

Radishes – Forget about those starchy red rocks called radishes at the grocery store. Search online to discover a long list of gorgeous radish seeds including French Breakfast, White Icicle and Pink Beauties. Easter Eggs is a particularly beautiful variety that produces radishes of varying purples, pinks and whites. Radishes grow easily and quickly, with some small-rooted varieties ready in a month or less from the day of seeding.

Lettuce – Like onions, lettuce appreciates fertile soil and regular water. Some are more suitable for warmer months, some for cooler. There are dozens of varieties, including heirloom and redleaf. Mesclun – a combination of several lettuces such as arugula, chervil, chicory and cress – grows beautifully in our climate. Sow seeds in January or February or check your local nursery for starts.

Peas – November and February are the best months to plant peas. Poke shelling or snap pea seeds an inch or two deep directly into rich soil and give them something tall to climb up and wind their tendrils around. Pea shoots are delicacies for birds, so you may need to cover your sprouts with a floating row cover or anything that keeps birds at bay but that lets sunshine and rain in.

Potatoes – Like peas, a good time to plant potatoes is in February, with the satisfying potato harvest around three months later. Potatoes are a joy to harvest for adults and kids alike. Depending on the variety, potatoes are usually grown from pieces of tubers that have at least one eye or from whole small tubers.

Swiss chard and other greens – Swiss chard is like an exclamation point in the winter vegetable garden, lighting up beds with bright pink, yellow and red stalks. It’s one of the easiest greens to grow either from seed or from starts, and it grows all year. Other greens, such as spinach, kale and bok choy, are also easy. These greens can be used for salads or can be braised in stir-fries or thrown into soups. Most greens relish cool temperatures and go to seed in warm weather. Give them rich soil, keep them cool and you’ll be rewarded with fresh salad greens throughout the year.

By Marie Narlock

Vertical Gardening – Terrain Design Style

Vertical Gardening – Terrain Design Style

   Would you like a dramatic look in a small space? No matter how small your property is you can develop a Green Thumb by building a Vertical Garden. Vertical gardening is the way to go.If you have a blank wall or an area that you feel needs that little something tries growing a vertical garden. You can grow annuals, perennials or even edibles.Vertical gardening is one of the newest gardening trends. Using this type of gardening, it can draw attention to or disguise areas that you would like to. Vertical gardens can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like. Reasons for growing a Vertical Garden:

  • Save space: You can grow and harvest many other vegetables in the space that would otherwise be lost.
  • Easier to Harvest: Many of the vegetables will be easier to reach when harvesting.
  • Better Air Circulation around Plants: Provides ideal growing conditions for healthy plants. 
  • Keeps Vegetables off the Ground: Prevents mold, soil-borne disease, crawling insects or pests from reaching leaves or fruit.

 

   Below you will find some ideas of vertical gardens from simple to more elaborate. You are only limited by your imagination.

 
  • Simple Trellis Simple Trellis
  • Wall Using Plastic Bottles Wall Using Plastic Bottles Planted with a variety of herbs, such as chives, oregano, rosemary and parsley
  • Wire On A wooden Frame Wire On A wooden Frame Perfect way to grow squash/zucchini, cucumbers, peas or even pole beans
  • Pallet Mounted On A Fence Pallet Mounted On A Fence For example potted pansies and petunias

   Arbors and trellises are great structures for vertical gardening. You can use vertical gardens as privacy screens in small spaces. You are really only limited by your creativity and imagination as far as items that can be used, but keep in mind the type of plants that you are using, the heavier ones will need to have a sturdier base. A post in the ground, wrought iron gate, anything that adds height can be used for plants to grow on. Vegetables and fruits that are easily grown in a vertical garden are:

  • Pole Climbing Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Strawberries are also an excellent choice for vertical gardening.

 

 

Just remember to keep in mind you may need heavier structures depending on what you are growing. When planting a vegetable garden keep in mind that they need at least 4 hours of sunlight a day.

Plant herbs such as oregano and thyme towards the top and use the lower spaces for vegetables such as lettuce or tomatoes.

Flowers are another really wonderful thing to grow vertically, they turn an ordinary wall

In to a living wall and can also work well as privacy screens.

Suggestions for this type of growing are:

 

  • Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Cross vine
  • Wisteria
  • Lady Banks Roses

 

 Coverd Arbor

Arbor covered in floral blooms make a perfect entrance for a garden

Pick a good spot. A vertical garden, like any other type of garden, needs to be planted in an area with good soil drainage and the right combination of shade and sunlight. Figure out what conditions the plants you’re growing need to thrive, and then choose a suitable area in your yard or on your patio.

  • Most vertical gardens do well with a lot of sunlight.

  • Pick a spot close to a wall if you want your garden to eventually climb the walls of your house.

Stabilize structure  If you’re using a trellis, a stake or a pole, be sure to bury it deep in the ground so that it doesn’t wobble or fall over. Remember that the garden will get heavier as it grows, and it will need a solid foundation that can stand up to wind and rain.

Plant around the Base of the structure. Taking into account the individual needs of the plants you are using, plant seeds or seedlings in holes spaced around the base of the trellis, pole or other structure you are using. Make sure they aren’t too close to each other or the structure so that they’ll have room to root and grow.

Care for your plants according to their needs. Make sure they get adequate water and that you fertilize them, protect them with mulch, and take other measure they need to grow healthy.
Train the plants When the seedlings get a few inches high, it’s time to train them to wrap around the structure you erected. Gently wrap the stems of the plants around the base of the structure, taking care not to bend or break them. Use ties to hold the stems in place as they grow.

  • Don’t tie the stems too tightly. This prevents them from growing properly and may actually damage the plant.

  • As the stems begin to grow and wind around the structure, continue using ties to train them to grow in the direction you want them to grow.

Gravity Fed Irrigation System

One of the most common ways to irrigate a vertical garden is by the use of a gravity fed drip irrigation system.  This is where a conventional drip irrigation system is installed at the top of the vertical garden.  Water is released and it drips onto the top row of plants.  As these plants are sufficiently watered, the water continues down through the effect of gravity, until the entire garden is watered.  The excess water is collected at the bottom of the garden and is drained away. Alternatively, a pump can be installed to recycle the water.

Comprehensive Drip Irrigation System

If your plants require a lot of water regularly, you may want to install something a bit more comprehensive than a standard gravity fed drip irrigation system.  In this case, you can choose to install drip irrigation lines on ever y row of your vertical garden, ensuring that each and every plant gets plenty of water.  As with gravity fed drip irrigation, the excess water is caught at the bottom of the garden using a tray that drains it away or allows it to be recycled.