I'm often asked if there are vegetables that can winter over in the garden. Root vegetables work best for keeping in your winter vegetable garden, but there are definitely some tips and tricks that will help give you the best success and extend your growing season well into the winter.
Where I live I'm dealing with a winter vegetable garden zone 7. This means I'll definitely have some freezing temperatures, but they don't get so cold that I can't winter over some of my root vegetables and other crops into December and January… some years all the way into next Spring.
Plus, if you're like me, you like to plant a late summer garden to continue harvesting fresh produce well into the fall months. You can find out the best 28 crops to plant for your fall garden here.
And be sure you know about the ten things most organic gardeners forget about and the 8 common mistakes made by new gardeners.
For more gardening tips, or to read the transcript of today's Pioneering Today Podcast (episode #283) be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post for related articles, videos, and podcasts! Or, click on this link if you'd like to join my Organic Gardening Workshop and get your All-Access pass.
What Vegetables Can Stay in the Garden into Winter?
Root vegetables tend to winter the best, but as you can see from my video above, other crops such as Brussel sprouts, kale, some lettuces, and some cabbages will last well into the winter months. (You can even watch me harvesting Brussel sprouts during a crazy winter storm with over two feet of snow!)
- Brussel Sprouts
Warm Weather Crops vs. Cold Weather Crops
Cold weather crops are vegetables that can tolerate a hard frost. Many root vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnips, kale, and Brussel Sprouts all tolerate very cold temperatures.
Warm weather crops are those we typically think of growing during the summer months; tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green beans, summer squash, and even winter squash. These will typically not survive a hard frost.
When to Plant a Winter Vegetable Garden
The term “winter vegetable garden” is a little deceiving because you don’t actually plant these plants in winter. You need to plant them enough ahead of time to become mature plants before the first frost date.
Timing is VERY important and will vary depending on where you live.
If you have my book, The Family Garden Plan or The Family Garden Planner, there are lists of each crop that help you calculate exactly when to plant based on your first frost date (including lists of the good cool, hardy vegetables).
How to Store Vegetables in the Garden
Beets & Radishes
Beets are very hardy, and if they're tucked away under the surface they'll store very well in the ground.
Some things to be aware of are, the beet greens will wilt and die back with cold temperatures, but the beetroot itself should keep nicely usually through December.
If any of the beetroots are above the ground, you'll need to mulch with a nice heavy layer of leaves or straw to keep the beets from freezing.
If the weather continually dips below and above freezing, your soil is going to heave as it freezes and defrosts. This can cause the root crops to get pushed up and out of the soil which is why it's important to heavily mulch over the beets to keep the top of the root warm.
The beets will not continue to grow if you keep them in the ground. This storage technique works best with beets that have already reached a harvestable size. For more tips on planting and growing beets, check out my blog post.
This is the same method you would use for storing radishes in the garden for winter.
Carrots & Turnips
Mulching over carrots also works very well for keeping them in the garden into the winter months.
As with the beets, the carrots need to be at a decent, harvestable size before mulching and storing in the garden.
Come out and check on them weekly. If they begin to get soft or mushy, it's time to pull them all up and take them inside.
I've been able to successfully harvest and eat fresh carrots well into January!
TIP: If your carrots aren't very big, you can still mulch them and keep them in the ground to winter over. Because carrots are biennual, they don't typically produce their seeds until the second year. So leave them in the ground and they'll actually bloom in the spring and you can harvest the carrot seeds.
This is the same method you would use for storing turnips in the garden for winter.
As the colder temperatures hit your area, your potato plants will die back. But underneath the soil, your potatoes can keep for many months, even through to next spring, if they're deep enough under a layer of well-draining soil and mulch.
If your soil is clay or has a lot of standing water, this method may not work well for you, even with a thick layer of mulch.
Even though I live in the Pacific Northwest, this method seems to work well for us as our soil drains quite well. I do like to check on my potatoes weekly. If there are any signs of decay I'll harvest the remainder of them and bring them inside, storing them in the coldest area of my house.
However, many years when I'm preparing my garden for planting in the spring, I'll find small little potatoes that were missed and they're still perfectly fine and edible. So this year, I'm going to experiment with layering a little bit extra soil and mulch to see if they'll last until spring.
Since I don't have a root cellar, keeping my potatoes in the garden and harvesting them as I need them works best for me.
Check out my other tips for storing vegetables without a root cellar here.
And if you want to plant potatoes in your garden, be sure to check out my potato planting and growing tips. (Plus, for fun, check out my podcast on Great Depression Era money-saving tips with potatoes!)
Brussel Sprouts & Cabbage
The beauty of Brussel sprouts is that they're a very hardy plant that needs no special care into the winter months. I've successfully kept them in the garden until February until we got a very large snowfall.
Even better, the flavor of Brussel sprouts improves if they've been through a hard frost! So, even if we have Brussel sprouts ready to pick on the stalk, we'll oftentimes leave them until after the first frost.
Check out my video for my best tips on growing hardy and healthy Brussel sprouts.
What I love about Brussel sprouts is that the smaller sprouts will actually continue to grow in size, even once freezing temperatures arrive.
When I harvest my Brussel sprouts, I harvest them from the bottom up, as the larger sprouts grow first at the bottom of the stalk. This gives the smaller sprouts time to mature a bit more before I harvest them for fresh eating.
Certain varieties of cabbage can also winter over well with no extra care. Be sure to check your seed packets to know whether they're a good variety for wintering over. In my experience, the cabbages that are more oblong with a pointy top grow best through the winter as they naturally allow the snow to fall off their heads.
Although broccoli and cauliflower will survive through one hard frost, I've found the repetitive freezing and warming of temperatures is hard on them and they don't last long. It's my recommendation to harvest them just before the first frost to avoid any possible plant loss.
Kale & Lettuce
Kale is just a hardy, hardy vegetable. I've wintered over my kale and still harvested it for fresh eating into late spring.
The plants won't continue to grow, they'll go into a hibernation mode, but as long as your plants are mature with plenty of leaves, you can harvest those leaves throughout fall, winter and spring until it's time to plant again.
This year, we planted our kale at the end of May and I'll be able to continue harvesting them with no extra special care all winter long.
The same goes with many of the heartier lettuces. Be sure to check your seed packets for the best varieties that will grow in your gardening zone.
Properly Mulch to Winter Over Your Crops
In order to successfully extend the vegetable harvest into the winter months, you'll need to add a layer of mulch over the vegetables.
Many people have an abundance of leaves, which is a great way to sheet mulch and build up your soil.
I don't have enough leaves on hand, so I'm using some straw. My straw was already beginning to break down, but fresh or partly composted straw will work great.
You do need to make sure you can layer at least a few inches deep in order to properly insulate your crops and keep them from freezing.
You can also use hay but I don't recommend it as hay has a lot more seeds in it than straw (which equals more weeds later).
Other Gardening Resources:
- The Family Garden Plan
- Tips to Get Your Homestead Ready for Winter
- The Family Garden Planner
- Organic Gardening Workshop – All Access Pass
- Plant Covers for Cold Weather Gardening – How to Grow Food Year-Round
- How to Improve Soil for Gardening – 3 Easy Tips
- No-Till Gardening Benefits & Getting Started
- Seed Packet Information – How to Read Seed Packets for Gardening Success
- Where to Buy Heirloom Seeds
- Small Space Vegetable Gardening
- Raised Bed Gardening Tips
Hey pioneers, and welcome to episode number 283. Today, we're going to be talking all about the winter vegetable garden. So we're going to talk about the growing season, what vegetables you can grow in winter, when you actually need to have those vegetables planted to be able to keep them through the winter, and what vegetables that even if they are not technically still growing necessarily through winter, I leave out in the garden to avoid finding ways to preserve them. And I don't have the space and they do just fine out in the garden throughout pretty much the whole winter. And some of them have a little bit shorter time span, don't go through the whole winter, and I'm going to go over that. But I thought that this was great because this year, every year it is our goal to increase the amount of food and our self-sufficiency skills.
So the amount of things that we are doing for ourselves, we have a goal of every year increasing that bit by bit. And one of my goals for simplicity, and because we only have so much space in our home and this year, thank you pandemic. There was shortages on things like canning jars and canning lids and all kinds of different weird supplies, but it made me realize that I want to make sure that I have diversified with my gardening and my food preservation so that we are taken care of throughout more of the seasons. And winter gardening can play a really big part in that, so that's what we're going to be talking about today. You're going to get a lot of helpful tips. I'm very excited for this episode. I have a lot of you who have asked me questions about this, but first, let me welcome you to the podcast.
I'm your host, Melissa K. Norris, a fifth generation homesteader who got back to my roots of using simple, modern homesteading for a healthier and more self-sufficient life after a cancer scare in my late twenties. This is the place for you, my friend, if you've sometimes wondered if you weren't born a hundred years too late, if you've always thought that you and Laura Ingles would be best friends, and if you think that every home and kitchen would be better if they were filled with Mason jars and cast iron, and those things were used daily with homegrown and homemade food. If that is you then welcome home and welcome to this amazing community of modern pioneers.
So for your winter vegetable garden, you have to know which vegetables you're going to be able to grow during the winter months. And those are going to be your hardy vegetables, or your cool weather vegetables oftentimes people will call them. That means that they can tolerate hard frost, that they won't be killed. So pretty much all of the vegetables that we think of growing in a summer vegetable garden, or our warm weather crops, things like tomatoes, peppers, green beans, summer squash, and even winter squash, those are not going to survive your hard frost. So some of those, now your things like peppers and tomatoes and green beans, typically, if you get 32 degrees F, they're done. They just are instantly killed. However, there can be some things, like sometimes the winter squash, if you're flirting with a 32 degrees temperature, it doesn't necessarily kill it all the way. Even some of your summer squash and things like cucumbers, we had a couple of nights where we had, it was technically 32 degrees and we had a super light frost, but it didn't kill them all the way off.
Then we had a couple more nights where it warmed back up again, the days were warm, and they actually continued to grow, some of my cucumbers, for another week or two until we got to our hard frost. So what you're looking for in a winter vegetable garden are the vegetables that will survive a hard frost, and a hard frost is typically 25 to 28 degrees F. Now, the thing with a winter vegetable garden is you don't actually plant the plants in winter. This is the same really principle that goes in with a fall garden. These cool weather crops have to be planted before these cold temperatures hit. One, even though they will germinate in colder soil, than say, things like beans and/or tomatoes, our hardy vegetables, they will not grow. And if they're small, little tender starts and just germinating, and they're really those little tender in their first few weeks of growing. If they get hit by these cold, killing frost temperatures, then they're much more susceptible to damage and oftentimes they'll die.
Whereas, if they're already an established plant and then they hit these temperatures, then they'll weather through it, so to speak, and be just fine coming out the other side. So your timing is really important. Now the timing, however, is going to vary upon where you live, and when you get your typical first hard frost, and when the winter weather comes to stay. Now, if you have my book, The Family Garden Plan, or The Family Garden Planner, you'll know that I have got full on charts in there that go in alphabetical order. And they will tell you when you need to plant each of those vegetable crops by your first and last frost date. So if you're looking to do a fall and/or winter garden, they will let you know how many weeks before that first frost that you have in the fall that you would actually need to start and plant these plants. They also give you lists of the cold hardy vegetables.
So what are our cooler weather, good hardy vegetables? So vegetables to grow in the winter months that will survive these temperatures, first up on my list is kale. Kale is a phenomenal plant. It does very, very well. I have to say, of all the winter vegetables that I don't have to do any type of work to. And I mean, I'm not doing any type of cold frame or hoop house or anything like that to the kale, and it will go all winter long for me, clear into February and March, from a planting that I usually will actually do in the summer times and sometimes I even plant in may. And the Kale that I plant in May will last all the way through until the following March, which is pretty incredible. Lettuce, your cool weather lettuce, specifically, does really well during the cold winter months. Carrots will do very well during the winter.
And I'm going to talk about the ways that I leave these plants, not all of them, but some of them, outside so that they can continue to grow, and don't bring them in. And basically using the ground as a root cellar. So I'm going to talk about that and in what situations that works, and which vegetables I have to do certain things with in order for this to continue. Or, for them to be good, and to continue to be edible, and to not rot in the ground. But let's go through our list here of these hardy vegetables. Kale, lettuce, carrots, Asian greens can be great. Some spinach, Brussels sprouts, and beets. Now, those vegetables will all survive those harder frosts when we're dipping 28 degrees F or lower. Some other vegetables that will tolerate around the, a little bit warmer.
So like around 29 degrees, 30 degrees, and sometimes they'll go lower, are going to be things like your cabbage, your broccoli, your cold crops, cauliflower, et cetera. But I have to say that without doing some type of frost protection, that especially my cauliflower and my broccoli, if we're getting down beneath 29 degrees F, they usually won't last as long for me. I have a couple of weeks that they'll do good. And then they tend to start to get a lot of frost damage, and then the actual broccoli heads or the cauliflower heads, et cetera, start to get damaged. They don't really, they say that there can be grown and are hardy down to the low 20s, but I personally have not really found that they'll do very well like that for very long. Now, provided that you are picking hardy, frost tolerant, cool weather vegetables, you need to have them in and of a suitable harvestable size before winter comes.
So here in the Pacific Northwest, it's really funny. I was reading some different articles online and they were saying that you could plant here in the Pacific Northwest, and in zones seven through ten, that you could plant your winter vegetable garden in October. And I just had to die laughing. I'm like, you plant a winter vegetable garden in October, and you're not going to get anything, at least where I live. And I am zone seven, and I'm in the Pacific Northwest. So that has never rang true for me. Now, if you're in a warmer zone, like nine or ten, then that's very true, but not for zone seven and probably not even zone eight, depending upon when your first frost date is. So it's really more key, instead of going by your gardening zone, that you go by that first frost date and then look at the crop and count backwards how many weeks to plant it.
Because what I have found is, once we begin to hit, especially November, and definitely into December and January, that especially as I live fairly far North. So I'm up in Washington state about an hour and a half from the Canadian border just to give you a little bit of reference there. But most places you're going to have less daylight hours. So generally speaking, once we begin to hit November through January, we don't have a lot of daylight hours of full sunlight like we do in the other months of the year. So even if the temperatures maybe aren't freezing, because we don't always have our freezing temps. We kind of, that's one of the things that's unique about the Pacific Northwest, I feel, is we can be really cold. Like we'll have 20 degree weather for a week and then we'll warm right back up and have even 50 and 40 degree weather for a week.
So we are on this little bit of a roller coaster with our temperatures. We do have some cold, but then we have a lot more mild. And I'm up in the foothills, so that might be part of it, where I have a little in the mountain ranges here. But that being said, even if we're not having those cold temps yet once we hit November, with the shortening of the daylight hours, the plants pretty much go into hibernation mode. They stop growing. They're not going to produce any more growth. And especially this has been true with my cabbage, and my broccoli, and my cauliflower. If they have not produced heads yet by the time we hit November, then they're not going to. They may be hardy and they might be surviving when I get those cold temperatures, but they don't produce anything.
So I actually am making a note in my Family Garden Planner, which is an actual planner, it's a 12 month undated planner. And so I'm making notes, my broccoli and my cauliflower, I thought that I planted them early enough, but neither of them produced a head in the fall garden, and they're not going to. So the plants won't go to waste. You can actually cook the leaves up, but we have got plenty of livestock between the chickens, and the pigs, and the cows, who will gladly eat those plants that didn't produce anything, even if it's not us. So I'm going to be going out and pulling them out this next week if weather permits, and feeding those to the livestock. Because in my experience, they just don't produce. So I'm making a note in my garden planner that I need to start those two weeks earlier than I did this year for next year's winter garden. So that I've actually got those that are coming to a harvest and I get something off of them.
So it is really important that you get them in early enough that they have time to be of harvestable size. Now provided that they are at harvestable size as winter rolls around, there's quite a few vegetables that you can just leave out in the garden, which is fabulous. And they'll just stay, like I said, it's almost putting them in basically nature's refrigerator, and they'll just stay right there and be really good. Now for your root crops, I definitely mulch my root crops. So the garlic is not ready to be harvested, but you actually, garlic is one of the few things that you're going to be planting during the fall. And if you were super late on getting your garlic planted, and you didn't do it around your first frost date, you actually can do it in winter if the ground is not frozen solid, and the sooner the better.
So if you're listening to this and you're like, oh, I didn't get my garlic planted this year. It's not too late. We have planted garlic as late as February, when typically we should be planting in October. And I still got a decent sized crop by planting in February. Now I don't necessarily recommend planting that late, but we have had it work out very well for us. But typically you plant around October, or your first frost date and then you're going to be harvesting your garlic in July. But when you plant it, we cover ours with about three to four inches of straw. You could also use leaves. I haven't done wood chips, I'm not sure how the wood chips would work, but that is definitely a mulch option, but I have done shredded up leaves and I've also done straw, and that works very well. And the reason we want to do that for the garlic is because as the ground freezes and thaws as we go throughout the winter... and this is kind of true of some of the other crops I'm going to be sharing with you... but it heaves a little bit, right?
Your soil will heave with the thaw and freezing cycle. And so if it pushes up the very tip top of the garlic, or if it would be the top of a beet, or the top of a carrot, anything that's in the ground like that, then it gets exposed to the freezing. And if it actually freezes, then it usually will rot. Rot can be introduced, and it will decay, and it usually just doesn't do so well. So we want to make sure that we have got that insulation that keeps it from actually freezing, is our goal there. So we do that with the garlic, I do that with my carrots, and I do it with my beets. Now, I don't have any radishes left in the garden right now. I've never done my radishes all the way through the winter, but theoretically, a lot of your root crops, things like rutabaga, those types of things, turnip, you could keep in the ground and mulch as well. But here's the thing, and then this is going to depend upon your climate.
Usually throughout the fall in the first part of winter, a lot of climates are going to be able to do this, but as you hit full on winter... which is actually, as y'all know, it's the end part of December through January and February... if your ground freezes really solid and stays that way, and/or you get so much snow that you can't dig down. Now, the snow actually will act in most cases as an insulator for a lot of the root crops. But that means if you have a ton of snow and it stays on the ground for a long time, it's going to be really hard for you to shovel down and actually harvest these root crops. And that's kind of the point is we leave them in the ground and I just go out and pull the carrots, and pull beets, and pull them as I need them. So here in the Pacific Northwest, I can leave my carrots in all the way throughout the entire winter and they will do just fine.
Beets is a little bit different story. If I mulch them really well, this also does work in raised garden beds and container planting, but you have to make sure that you have really well draining soil. So if you have clay soil or an area that has a lot of standing water, then leaving these root crops in the ground, they have a tendency to rot. So it doesn't work very well. But as long as you have well draining soil, this does work really well. And then if you've got raised beds or even containers, you may need... because the actual soil is above the ground and you don't have the natural insulation of the root crop actually being down in the ground... you may need to provide some extra insulation around the raised bed, depending on how big your raised bed is. But especially if it's a smaller container, you may need to wrap it in something like burlap, or just provide some type of extra insulation so that the soil in the container does not actually freeze all the way through.
But my beets, if I insulate them well, I usually can leave the beets in the ground through December. So I start checking if I've got new beets left in the ground, I really start checking as we start to hit December. Because in the past, by the time we get to December, because we have that thaw and freeze cycle, some of the beets will begin to rot, basically. And so I have to keep an eye on them, and if I see some that are just starting to show signs of maybe starting to rot, then I go through and pull up all the beats that are left. And then we bring them in, and I'll either can them, or we'll eat, I'll make up a couple of big meals with them depending on what's left. And then I'll finish preserving what's left at that point. But that way I'm not actually having to preserve my beats until we hit December when I'm pretty much done with everything else preserving-wise. So then I have time and space to actually deal with them.
Now, like I said, some climates, if you're a little bit more mild than we are, you may be able to leave your beets in all the way through. Carrots I can leave it all the way through, not a problem. I just harvest them all the way until I've either harvested all of them, or I'll even leave some in. If it's a year, I need to do seed saving on my carrots, which I don't do every year, because carrot seed is fine. You don't need to have fresh carrot seed every year provided you have some left in your back stock, but carrots will provide a seed from the second year. They'll create a blossom, which then becomes your seed for next year. So when I need to seed save, I'll just leave some of the carrots in the ground to become the following year's seed. So they'll go all the way through just fine.
This year, I'm actually testing our potatoes. So with our potato crop, I usually always miss some. You know when you're digging up the carrots, and you think you got them all, but then you go back in the spring time and you're working the soil to plant something else. And you'll come across quite a few carrots. Or not carrots, potatoes. And you're like, oh my goodness. Look at these potatoes, we missed these last year. And they're just fine. At least that's been our experience. I always get some really nice potatoes that were left in the ground from the fall in the spring time. So I decided this year, I'm like, why not test this with the potatoes, and see how long they'll last out here in the ground. So, I made sure that they had extra soil on top of them so that they were hilled up nicely, and then putting down a layer of straw or some type of mulch, like I said, leaf mulch to protect them, to make sure that they don't freeze. Because once a potato freezes and then thaws it's really no good.
You have to use it right away. And so we want to make sure that they do not get frost damage on them and they don't freeze. But so far they have been in, at the time of this recording, it's the very, very end of November and they are doing fine. Now I am checking them when I'm going out to dig up potatoes, right, to use. Just leaving them in the garden. But I'm also checking them frequently because if they do start to show signs of anything like turning bad, I want to get everything out of the ground and in the house so that we don't lose that potato crop. But definitely something to try. So I'm really excited to see how it does, because potatoes are an excellent root cellar crop, but we don't have a basement or a root cellar.
And because potatoes require a decent amount of humidity, and they like to be kept a little bit colder for long-term storage than what I can provide in our back pantry, where I store our onions, and garlic, and winter squash, which it does fabulously all throughout, which I highly recommend. I have a podcast episode on tips for storing your vegetables without a root cellar long-term that you will want to check out. I'll make sure and put that in the blog post and show notes that accompanies this episode, which you can hop on over to the website and go to MelissaKNorris.com/283, just the number 283. MelissaKNorris.com/283, because this is episode number 283. If you want to look at some of these additional podcasts that go into using these techniques a little bit more in detail, I've got some posts on harvesting and curing your onions for storage. So if you want to look at how we do that, you can definitely go in and check those out. Episode 193 and 194 of the podcast go about harvesting and curing the onions.
Now, some other vegetables that are not root vegetables that we leave out in the garden and they will grow all winter. Again, provided that as these winter temps hit and we're getting less of these daylight hours, that these plants are at a harvestable size from the get-go. And we don't use any type of row cover, hoop house, or floating row cover on these. And that is my kale and my Brussels sprouts. So the kale and the Brussels sprouts, Brussels sprouts, we will harvest... Last year, we left them in the garden and harvested on those Brussels sprouts all the way through until the first part of February. And then we got some really cold weather, some big snow storms where they froze completely solid because they are above ground. And so we went ahead and harvested them all at that time and brought them into the house, and brought them in from the garden at that point.
But the kale we left out, as I said, all the way through March, really, and we'll harvest off it. Now, the important things to note about the kale is it doesn't really produce a lot of new leaves, but everything that's there, it's, like I said, it's in that hibernation type. So we'll just go out and harvest it. So you want it to be really large kale plants, and it's not going to grow a whole lot more. You might get a little bit of growth on it, but you can just harvest off of it, and it does beautiful. And the great thing about these cool weather crops, especially things, even the carrots, honestly, but especially the Brussels sprouts and even the kale, is once they go through that first hard frost, it greatly improves their flavor. They become much sweeter, the flavor is developed and they are great. And so we do not even bother harvesting Brussels sprouts until they have went through a frost.
Seriously, even if they're almost ready to harvest or at ready to harvest I'm going to plan my planting of the Brussels sprouts, we plant them the end of May. Because Brussels sprouts are a very long growing vegetable, actually. So the time to sow seed for Brussels sprouts is going to be about the end of May, if you have a first frost somewhere in the time of October, maybe late September or even beginning of November range-ish, because Brussels sprouts, depending upon the variety, can take anywhere from 100 to 120 days before they are ready to harvest and have actually produced harvestable size Brussels sprouts. So once you get that first frost, the great thing about the Brussels sprouts is it does slow down their growth rate a little bit, but you harvest...
The larger Brussels sprouts are formed at the bottom of the stalk, so we begin to harvest those first and then the ones up further on the stalk. For me, they are ones that will continue to grow, though slowly, but all throughout the winter. And then we just work our way up the stalk until we get to the top and have harvested all of them. So I love those because I don't have to do anything to them. Now, usually with my winter lettuce, I will leave some that is out in the regular garden. And then I will move some after I've pulled all the tomatoes and peppers out of the high tunnel. Then I'll move some of the lettuce in there.
So I've kind of got it going in both spots. And the reason I put some into the high tunnel is because after I'm done harvesting all of the lettuce that's out in the regular, just exposed vegetable bed and vegetable garden, and the garden beds, is then the stuff that's in the high tunnel will continue to produce, and will grow a little bit more because it has that extra warmth in there from the high tunnel. A little bit of extra insulation and warmth. And so once the daylight hours start to go back to being longer, we get past that winter solstice mark, then they will begin to grow a lot faster in the high tunnel than the ones that I've just left out in the regular garden. So I do it both, so I stagger, and we'll use what's out in the regular garden first. And then by then, usually what's in the high tunnel will begin to grow at a faster rate. And then I can start to harvest from that when we've went through the others.
But some other great things for a winter vegetable garden, especially with some of those greens like your spinach and the salad... Well, it is salad that I use it in, but is your lettuce, is those, if you have a small cold frame or a floating row cover. Now floating row covers depend on how much snow you get and how much wind you have. And if you've got them way down, and if you get a ton of snow, depending on those floating row covers, and how sturdy they are, and how sturdy the fabric is, that's going to be a little bit dependent on the type of winters you have for a floating row cover, for how long if they're going to work for you and how brutal your winters are.
But a cold frame, because you really don't need a ton of lettuce plants, and they're not going to grow very tall. You can usually do some pretty easy cold frames that will allow you to grow those all year long. And we just put ours in our high tunnel, which is not really a cold frame, but a really large unheated greenhouse, and the lettuce does really well in there, but I can get it to go pretty much through December without using that at all. So if you are looking to increase what you're growing, and especially throughout the different seasons with a fall or winter vegetable garden, highly recommend that you grab a copy of my book, The Family Garden Plan, because I've got a ton of examples in there. Not only with the list as I was telling you of when to actually plant everything, be it starting it from seed, direct sowing, just out in the garden, or starting it from seed indoors in the spring, and/or in the end of summer, beginning of fall for a winter garden.
Charts in there to break it all down for you, as well as examples of a lot of different cold frame options or row covers and at what temperatures the amount of protection that they actually provide. So that's all in The Family Garden Plan. And then The Family Garden Planner, as I said, is that day monthly and day journal, scheduler, planner, to help you make sure that you get everything in there. And it's got a lot of worksheets and different notes. So highly recommend that you check those out. You can go to MelissaKNorris.com under my book tab and check them out, or wherever books are sold.
So now for our verse of the week. We are in Psalms 107:43. "Who so is wise, if there be any truly wise, will observe and heed these things, and they will diligently consider the mercy and loving kindness of the Lord." And even though Thanksgiving is passed, I wanted to share this verse because I think it's really important that we focus on the things that we're thankful for and the things that are good in our life all year long, not just around Thanksgiving. Because it truly has the power to transform our thoughts and what we're focusing on. And if we're focusing on the good things and the things that we're thankful for, it doesn't leave room for us to focus on the things that would cause anxiety and fear, or all of those negative type emotions that none of us need any extra of, amen, right now.
So I wanted to share this first with you because I definitely would like to be wise, and it is very wise to observe and heed things, and diligently considering the mercy and loving kindness of the Lord is something to be very thankful and grateful for that we should do every single day. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of the Pioneering Today podcast. Blessings and Mason jars until we meet again next week.
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Can I plant beets after the first frost in MN? We have little snow right now, but it is quite cold!
They won’t germinate or grow with it that cold and shorter amounts of daylight.
Thank you! Maybe next year:)
I’m only a teenager still, but I hope to be a homesteader someday and I love your articles and videos! Trying to learn a lot now! Is there one thing you can tell me about homesteading that you find the most important?
I really admire your work!:)
I think the most important is to adapt your mindset first, to look for ways to do things yourself or be self-sufficient, and always hungering to learn more or learn a new way.
Thank you so much!:)
I have tried to research planting garlic. A lot of different places talk about planting garlic now, but they’re not stating if they’ve already started from seed and then planting a sprouted plant now or if you actually put the seed in outside now. I know most seeds need the warm th that we can’t get right now in order to germinate. But I just wondered if you could clarify whether you would say planting garlic seed now as opposed to transplanting a garlic plant is what you mean. I absolutely love your podcast! I’m a new gardener but our goals are homesteading. I am loving all my sourdough stuff, making soap, and so many other things we’re working on. So thank you so much for your content! I bought your book and the planner and I’m so excited about our gardening goals! I was the kid who wished I was a farm kid but never thought it was possible. Now I’m hoping to raise my kids as farm kids once we get to that point! Sorry for the long message! And thank you for your time in advance!
You are planting a clove when you plant garlic. Here’s an older post on planting garlic https://melissaknorris.com/pioneering-today-how-to-plant-garlic/
Do you ever have trouble with mice and rodents burrowing under the straw/snow and feeding on the vegetables? Is there just some loss to be expected? Or does it help to leave tops so that they feed on those instead of digging underground?