Blog July 20, 2012
Winter veggies: plant now for fresh greens this winter
We know what you’re thinking—it’s too early to start planning for the winter. And what would you garden in the cold months anyway? Don’t worry, the ins and outs of growing greens year-round has many people in the dark. That's why agrologist and organic vegetable expert Arzeena Hamir came to Vancouver City Hall recently to illuminate the When, What and How of winter gardening.
Below, Arzeena shares her answers to some common questions and answers from the workshop to help get you on your way to your own winter bounty!
Most people think of veggie gardening as something for those warm summer months—WHY winter garden?
Our climate is conducive to gardening into the fall and winter! Keeping a veggie garden almost year-round not only saves loads of money but growing in the fall and winter can be much easier because you can avoid the common issues of insects and bolting.
If we only had a couple of tips to get started what would they be? How easy is it?
It’s incredibly easy! Just make sure to use cold-tolerant plants and ones that mature in 60 days or less. The best way is to count backwards from Oct 13 (around the time when plants stop growing—they won’t die, they just cease to get bigger). Also, avoid planting in the wetter areas of your garden to eliminate worry about rot.
Okay. So to give me an idea… When should I start?
The first couple weeks of July! Right now you can start carrots, beets, turnips, new potatoes, swiss chard, kale, cabbage and kohlrabi. Then in August you can plant peas, lettuce, spinach, bok choi and walla walla onions (if you want a treat next summer). Into September, you can plant cold-loving greens like arugula, corn salad, lettuces, asian greens and radishes. And in October, you can still plant (you don’t believe me? Try it!) radishes and giant red mustard. Oh, and don’t forget the garlic!
Garlic! Wow I forgot about that! Do I need to do anything special with it?
Nope! You don’t need to irrigate garlic or anything! Just plant the separated cloves pointy side up, two knuckle lengths deep and let them grow! They should be ready by the following July and then you can harvest and cure them. Mmm…
Is there any way to grow things all the way to Christmas?
There are lots of ways of extending the season, and in this climate, we can garden and harvest greens year round. You can use a floating row cover to extend the season into November, and cold frames should get you gardening all the way through Christmas and into January and February!
Awesome! Are there any other resources you could recommend?
The West Coast Seeds catalogue has a calendar that is excellent! You can find it online or pick it up in most garden stores. Winter Gardening on the Coast by Linda Gilkeson is another great resource. Happy Gardening!