Winter is Great for Vegetable Gardening
Winter is one of the best times to grow veggies because there are very few pests to contend with, it’s easier to control the temperature of the plants, we don’t need to water as frequently, and the harvests can continue over the course of several weeks. Here are some tips and suggestions to implement now in a winter garden.
Revitalize soil with fresh compost. Each season, plants deplete nutrients from the soil. Make it a part of a routine to add fresh, local, organic compost to garden beds after pulling out the remains of the plants at the end of that season. This will add lots of beneficial nutrients and microorganisms back into the garden for the next planting.
Plant cool season greens for winter salads. Lettuce, kale and spinach are great to plant in cool weather. There are even many varieties specifically bred to withstand frost or freezing temperatures (some good varieties include Winter Density Buttercos lettuce, Winter Bloomsdale spinach and Lacinato (Dinosaur) kale)
Protect plants from the cold. Even if we planted cold-hearty leafy greens, it’s still a good idea to give them an extra layer of protection from the cold. Covering gardens when a freeze threatens can keep them growing straight through the winter. Tarps, blankets and sheets work well enough in a pinch, but for a no-hassle freeze protection solution, try floating row covers. This special lightweight material can be placed right on top of delicate greens without any extra support. It is permeable to both sunlight and water, so it doesn’t have to be removed and depending on the type of fabric and the manufacturer, these covers can keep gardens anywhere from four to 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature.
Plant berries and fruit trees. Blackberries, peaches, plums and figs are all favorites in this part of Texas. Planting them in January or February gives them ample time to establish their root systems before the harsh summer temperatures hit. Pick them up from a local nursery as soon as they are in stock or order bare-root transplants online. Planting blackberries this winter will yield the first harvest in June or July 2018. Fruit trees often take three to five years to bear their first fruits.
Get a head start on spring. Plant tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds in small pots indoors. Once they sprout, provide the seedlings with 12 to 14 hours of direct artificial light if a continuously sunny window is not available. Come mid-March, we’ll have beautiful, inexpensive, organic transplants to put out in the garden.
Source: Matt and Megan Woyak, Liberty Urban Agriculture.
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