Fall and Winter Gardening Basics

Fall and Winter Gardening Basics

There are several ways to approach fall and winter gardening, and certain vegetables will perform better when planted and harvested within the appropriate time frame. If possible, plant certain crops to harvest in fall, winter, and spring to guarantee yourself a continuous supply of produce throughout the cold months. Consult our Winter Gardening Chart and individual crop culture information to determine which crops will work best for your needs.

 

Planning for Fall and Winter

· For fall harvest: Schedule your plantings so that tender crops mature by your frost date

· Other cool-season vegetables can last into winter but should generally be harvested and stored inside or in a root cellar before temperatures reach freeze-out point

· For winter harvest: In areas with milder winters, crops can be grown to maturity before growth is effectively halted by decreasing day length and cold temperatures

· For spring/overwintering harvest: Time your crops so that they are established but not mature at the onset of winter; successfully overwintered crops will produce early in spring

· Crops that overwinter well include leafy greens, some root vegetables, peas, onions, garlic, and sprouting crops like broccoli

winter-brassicas-2013.jpg

Site Selection & Soil Preparation

· Choose a site that has the greatest amount of sun exposure; areas that are sunny in the summer are often not so throughout the winter

· Soil should be well drained to handle winter precipitation—raised beds are best for this

· Overwintering crops should be spaced wider than spring or fall planted crops; this increases air flow, discourages pests, and allows the soil to dry out

 

Light

· Growth slows throughout the fall and nearly stops when day length is less than 10 hours; for those crops that you want to harvest throughout the winter, plan to have them near or at maturity by this time

 

Timing

· The challenge to successfully growing winter crops is getting them established in the right time frame, often in summer when the weather is hot and dry —starting seedlings indoors, as well as using shade cloth and overhead watering will help keep seedlings cool during establishment

· Delaying planting a few days in the summer can translate to delayed fall or winter harvest by weeks

· For the most part, days to maturity (DTM) that we provide for our varieties are for spring planting; to adjust DTM for fall/winter harvest, take stated DTM and add 2‒3 weeks to account for slower growth due to shortening days

· Direct seeded crops should be watered lightly and frequently to encourage even germination and to prevent the soil from crusting

· Please keep in mind that planting and harvest dates that we provide are for the Maritime Northwest; check local resources for adjusted planting times for your area

Fertility

· Because nutrient uptake slows during the winter, avoid fertilizing too heavily in the fall

· Foliar feeds are a good way to feed plants in the fall

 

Fall Harvest

· Tender crops can be fall harvested up until the cold weather kills them off

· When making successive sowings of fall crops, you will want to start seeds at a shorter interval than you do in the spring

 

Winter to Spring Harvest

· Only plant overwintering varieties for winter or spring harvest

· Sprouting vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower may be overwintered at an immature stage and will produce the next spring

· Overwintered greens such as kale and collards will produce delicious flower stalks in the spring

· Most root vegetables can overwinter in the ground; plan on harvesting them all by spring, as they will bolt when the weather warms up and the days get longer

 Season Extension Methods

· Using season extension techniques can prolong harvest of tender crops into the winter, overwinter otherwise not hardy crops, and allow for earlier planting in the spring

· When used properly in combination, season extension can add up to a month on either end of the growing season

· Raised beds elevate plants above the ground, warming the soil and improving access to light

· Reemay and frost blankets cover plants, trapping in solar warmth, and protecting against frost damage

· Low tunnels are waist-high frames fashioned from PVC or electrical conduit, and covered with Reemay or greenhouse plastic that cover a row or two

· Cloches are small bell-shaped vessels that create a mini-greenhouse around individual plants

· Cold frames are small boxes that create a greenhouse around small plots, usually using glass or clear plastic panes

Due to our mild winters here in the Maritime Northwest, we are able to grow many cool-season vegetable crops all throughout the winter. Our Fall & Winter catalog* contains the best selection of varieties for winter gardening in areas with mild winters as well as cold-hardy types that will perform best in other areas.

 

*If you’d like to be on our list to receive a Fall & Winter catalog, please contact our customer service at 800-626-0866 or info@territorialseed.com

 

Author: Andrew B.

Plant Flowers, Invite Pollinators, Produce Fruit

Plant Flowers, Invite Pollinators, Produce Fruit