vegetable gardening

Simple Ideas for Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening

Know Your Frost

Knowing when the first frost is common in your particular area of the country is important for fall and winter vegetable gardening; some areas of the country arenít likely to have a frost until late October, some areas will frost as early as late September, while others still never frost at all.

Frost is sure to damage if not kill a fall or winter vegetable garden unless properly safe guarded against the cold to last over the course of the winter. A place with mild winters such as the west coast or southern United States can expect to have fine crops of hearty vegetables as late as the winter solstice with proper planning.

Know The Time Required

Different plants require different amounts of time to reach full maturity and need to be planted with enough time to reach that maturity before the first frost is able to inhibit growth. For a fall or winter vegetable garden containing root vegetables such as beets, carrots, or parsnips planting should begin in the middle of July for a late fall crop or later for a winter/spring crop.

Some leafy vegetables take less time to mature, usually around 60 days from seed; these plants should be planted for fall and winter vegetable gardens no later than the middle of September. Early Cabbage, Winter Cauliflower, and Swiss chard are all considered mid-season plants because of their maturation period.

Early maturing crops such as broccoli, spinach, radishes, and chives should be planted in a fall and winter vegetable garden no later than 30 days before the first expected frost or by the middle of September for most areas.

Dealing With A Freeze

Weather is somewhat unpredictable and a hard season could kill a fall and winter vegetable garden as surely as neglect; sometimes freezes come earlier than expected, but there are things a tentative gardener can do to protect their fall and winter vegetable garden.

Using darker containers for winter planting is a good idea as it allows the sun to warm the roots and soil of the plants; for plants in the ground, covering the tops of the plants with mulch, straw, and dark colored plastic can help the ground to recover quicker from snow and freezing weather.

If crops are desired from a fall and winter vegetable garden the entire winter season additional measures need to be taken such as building a cold frame. A cold frame is a simple tall sided box with a angled glass lid, this can be made as a permanent structure or as a box to be placed over the top of potted plants.

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