Tag Archives: winter greens

Caring for Winter Greens

January in the garden can be a slow month depending on your gardening zone. This time of year, unless your gardening in the far south, greens, garlic, and perennials are probably the only things you’ve got in the garden. While soon it will be time to start planting seeds for spring right now you can focus on keeping any hardy plants you’ve got alive and well.

Fall planted hardy greens can provide a bounty over the winter months. However because of limited daylight and cold temperatures caring for them will be a little different than caring for your garden during the summer.

Water

For the most part, you won’t need to water during the winter months. Even if your plants are under cover where they don’t get any precipitation they’re unlikely to need watering because they aren’t growing quickly.

However, during periods of active growth like the fall and spring you may still need to water them even if the temperatures are relatively cool. As it gets closer to spring be sure to monitor their needs.

Protection

For most areas, if you still have greens growing in January you probably have grown them in a protected environment whether it’s a cold frame or greenhouse. As temperatures continue to reach winter lows you may still need to offer them further protection to keep your garden growing strong.

For cold hardy greens like kale, lettuce, arugula, collards, spinach, and cress a simple layer of frost cloth can keep them growing strong even in an unheated greenhouse when temperatures dip into the low teens and even single digits.

Frost cloth can be placed on hoops or laid directly but gently onto your greens. Remember to remove the cloth as the temperature warms up in the day though! If you have to thin cloth like burlap or an old sheet will also work. Just make sure it’s not so heavy that it will crush your plants.

Harvesting

You can harvest your greens the way you normally would during the spring or summer months. Do note that because of the shorter days and colder temperatures greens will take much longer to come back after harvest but this doesn’t mean they’ve died or something is wrong. Once things warm up and the days get longer in the spring they’ll speed up quickly.

Venting

Don’t forget that sunny days can quickly heat up a cold frame or even greenhouse. Thermometers that come with an outdoor sensor and indoor display can help you monitor the temperature of your garden space without having to go out and check. Venting your structure when it heats up is very important to prevent scorching your plants.

Additional Resources

If you’d like more tips for winter growing, check out some of our other posts below.

Fresh Greens to Harvest from Fall through Winter

Easy Season Extension For Fall

Easy, Affordable Hoop House Options

Fresh Food in Winter

Tips for Growing Awesome Fall Greens

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Easy, Affordable Hoop House Options

Garage Frame Hoop House

Hoop houses or high tunnels are excellent season extenders. They can keep you family in fresh greens all year round or give you the earliest tomatoes in the neighborhood. Unfortunately they can be pricey. Here’s a few simple options for creating affordable hoop houses.

Garage Frame High Tunnel

One of the easiest options is to use an old garage or storage building frame.A garage door is one among the foremost important components of your garage. It not only provides security but can also be a design statement for the remainder of your property.
Before you build a garage or plan to give your existing one a facelift, it’s essential for you to work out the design , shape, and size of your garage opening. this may offer you a good idea on what proportion drive through width you need and also so you do not find yourself compromising on a stilted garage entry. Garage doors are an important a part of your garage. So while buying a garage door make sure to buy it from a Steel-line Garage Doors to get a high quality, security, and sturdiness . Tilt entryways are a carport entryway that are made of one single board that open by means of intensity arms fixed to the sides. These force arms go about as a progression of pulleys that are associated with expansion type springs. If you are looking for the tilt garage doors for your garage then visit AGG doors once.

Garage doors are one among the most important appliances, and while it doesn’t require constant attention it is vital to stay up annual maintenance to avoid expensive fixes down the road. While you can fix many of the minor maintenance and inspection items there are situations where you ought to contact garage door services Katy to conduct more complicated services.

If you see one for cheap or free on craigslist or your local classifieds, scoop it up! These are perfect for making small high tunnels with the little effort it takes to frame in the ends and add a door and plastic. The example pictured above was picked up for free, has a free used door, scrap lumber was used to frame in the ends, and the plastic was clamped to the piping using small sections of PVC pipe with slits cut in them.

Conduit High Tunnel

If you like the idea of the storage building hoop house but can’t find a used one you might consider making your own from conduit. Conduit is relatively inexpensive and can be bent at home using a homemade frame.

Cattle Panel High Tunnel

Another option is to use cattle or hog panels as the main frame. The panels are bent over and staked at each end. Like the other hoops you’ll still want to frame up the end and add a door. These are also a nice option because they’re easy to dismantle and move even if you’re a one person garden operation.

Low Tunnels

If you find none of these options work for you or you just don’t need a high tunnel, try a low tunnel! For low tunnels all you need is some hoops to bend over a garden bed and plastic. The hoops can be made from conduit, PVC, or even flexible wood from your property (just make sure to shave/sand off any spots that might tear the plastic). If you have a traditional garden the hoops can just be shoved into the ground on either side of the bed. Alternatively for raised beds you can add holders like slightly larger sections of PVC to the side of the bed to slide the hoops in and out of for easy set up and removal. Those holders could also be be driven into the ground for the same purpose. These low tunnel hoops also double as a way to cover crops with shade cloth to keep them cool or protect them from insects.

Purchasing Plastic

There’s a few considerations to keep in mind whatever frame you choose. First even though the rest of your hoop may be cheap or free you do want to invest in good quality plastic. Cheap plastic will only cost you more in the long run when it needs frequent replacing. To find good plastic look for plastic that has a good UV rating (won’t deteriorate in the sun) and is fairly thick. If you live in a northern climate you’ll need to keep in mind that your plastic will have to stand up under snow loads. Most likely you’ll find good quality plastic must be sourced from an actual uk greenhouse retailer

You’ll also want to make sure you purchase enough plastic for your project. Note that even though some large hoop houses have solid ends, your hoop house will be more effective with plastic or another type of clear material on the ends. So don’t forget to take the ends into consideration when purchasing plastic. You should also be sure to order a bit extra to leave room for error.

Ventilation

Another feature you’ll want to consider on any type of greenhouse is a way to vent it. High and low tunnels will get hotter faster than you’d think. Being able to allow cool air in as needed is vital to prevent damage to plants. Good air circulation is also important to preventing fungus and disease. For high tunnels you may want to add doors and windows on each end or fashion sides that roll or fold up. On smaller hoop houses you can just make the lower part of the plastic sides easily detachable and fold it up and inward (if you fold it outward it will fill with rainwater). Obviously for low tunnels venting them is very easy because you can simply fold back the plastic but it is even more important.

Choosing a Site

Lastly it’s you’ll need to decided where you want to place your hoop house. It can be especially handy to have them close to the house in springtime when you’ll be spending a lot of time checking on and caring for seedlings. You’ll also want to ensure that one of the longer sides is facing south allowing the high tunnel as much sun as possible especially in the winter months.

Hoop houses do not have to be just for big farms! With a little effort you can create an affordable backyard hoop house even on a tiny property. Growing food in a high tunnel can help increase your year round self sufficiency and help you grow varieties that really like it hot and humid. Up your gardening game and start building!

8 Vegetable Varieties You Can Still Plant This Fall

As temperatures begin to cool many people start to think of harvesting long season crops like popcorn, pumpkins, and winter squashes but for the avid gardener it can still be time to plant. Whether you just love fresh food, have been inspired by books like 4 Season Harvest, or just desire more food independence SESE has many varieities that can still be planted.

For the purposes of this post we focused on the USDA Hardiness Zone 7A where Southern Exposure is located. That does not mean these are not still possibilities for your garden even if you live farther north. However your choices may be more limited and you may need to utilize season extenders like cold frames or row cover.

Chioggia (Dolce Di Chioggia) Beets

Beets are relatively cold hardy and quick to maturity. Grow them for fall greens or roots to store through the winter. In zone 7A beets can be sown up to Spetember 15th.

These Chioggia beets are both beautiful and ulitarian. They’re a fast growing, prolific, pre-1840 Italian heirloom with good flavor and storage properties.

Champion Collards

Collards are a beloved southern green that can be added to your fall garden until Spetember first in zone 7A, so it’s time to get some in now!

Champion collards reach maturity in 75 days and have enhanced winter hardiness, making them an excellent choice.

Broad-Leaved Bativian Endive (Full Heart Escarole)

Endive is very sensitive to hot weather so fall is actually a perfect planting time. The plants can be stored for winter use by digging the plant with the root ball intact and keeping in a root cellar or area of your home that stays around 50°F. Endive can be planted until September 15th.

Broad-Leaved Bativian has 12-16 inch creamy white heads with dark green outer leaves. It matures in 90 days.

Premier Kale

Kale is a wonderfully hardy green that can help keep your garden going year round. It can be sown in a zone 7A garden until September 15th.

Premier is a delicious variety with very tender leaves. It’s ready to harvest in just 60 days or can be over-wintered for awesome, early spring growth.

Speckled Bibb Lettuce

Lettuce is an easy choice for most gardens because it’s commonly liked and easy to grow. However in zone 7A much of the summer it can be difficult to grow lettuce because of the hot temperatures. Thankfully lettuce crops can be sown in the fall until Spetember 21st.

Speckled Bibb Lettuce is an excellent because it’s great tasting, gorgeous, and grows quickly in cool weather. You can have a Speckled Bibb harvest in just 43 days.

Red Giant Mustard

Mustards are great cold tolerant greens with a lot of flavor. They can be planted in zone 7A as late as October 1st!

Red Giant Mustard is an insect resistant variety originally from Japan. Its reddish purple leaves are stunning, cold tolerant, and strongly flavored.

Misato Rose Fall Radish

Radishes are a quick crop that can be sown up until November first in Zone 7A. Some radish varieties store especially well making them great for winter use.

The beautiful Misato Rose Fall Radish is an SESE favorite. It’s super easy to grow, matures in about 60 days, and keeps well.

Amber Glob (Yellow Globe) Turnip

Turnips are another hardy root and/or green to add to your fall garden. They can be planted as late as October 1st in the inland plains of the mid-Atlantic.

The Amber Globe Turnip is a fall variety that dates back to before 1840. It has sweet, fine-grained, creamy yellow flesh. Matures in 63 days.

 

If you don’t find favorites among this list be sure to puruse other varieties. Especially if you live in zone 6 or warmer or have season extenders there’s still plenty of varieities to offer a fall and winter bounty.

As autumn continues and the weather cools off more it will also be time to plant other crops like spinach, garlic, and perrennial onions.