Do you have gardening questions? This post is for you! We're talking about using greenhouses and high-tunnels, over-wintering herbs and strawberries, getting started with the easiest crops to grow and more.
Buckle up! In this podcast episode, I'm answering all your gardening questions. This is episode #369 of the Pioneering Today Podcast, and if you're anything like me, you love a good ol' Q&A session.
A few weeks ago, I took to social media and told you all to ask me anything. You all had some really great questions, so I've categorized them and will be answering them over the next few podcast episodes to cover everything.
For this post, we're mainly talking about gardening questions… ready? Let's dive in!
What's the Easiest Crop for Beginners?
This really depends on what your growing climate is. But overall, something like lettuce is easy to grow. You can grow them in almost any environment, they don't require support, and they grow rather quickly for a good fast turnaround.
My Squash Froze, Can I Still Harvest It?
This is a great question. If you don't already know, you want to leave your squash in the garden until it's fully ripe, and sometimes in the fall, there are still squash on the vine that aren't quite ready to come in when that first freeze hits.
If your squash has been frozen, bring it inside and let it thaw out to inspect the damage.
Is the rind hard or soft? If there are soft-spots, you'll need to cut it up to see how deep those soft spots go and discard any mushy spots.
For canning, remove any soft spots, cube it up and it'll be fine for canning.
If there are some soft spots, that's when I would cook it and eat it fresh (this garlic squash recipe is one of my favorites) or puree it to eat fresh or dehydrate, freeze or freeze dry. (Learn all the ways to preserve pumpkins and squash here.)
If it's frozen and thawed a few times and is pretty unappetizing, it should be tossed to the chickens or in the compost pile.
How to Source Locally Made Products
If you're wanting to find items that are made sustainably in the USA or Canada, that pay their workers a fair wage, and is a quality product.
Over the years, when I could only afford inexpensive items, I've had to repurchase many times items I wasn't willing to invest in for a higher quality version.
Now, as budget allows, I look for higher quality products that will last. I've noticed if I can invest in a good product, I actually end up spending less over time because I'm not rebuying the products when the previous one wears out.
This goes for gardening tools, preserving supplies, and even household items like appliances or kitchen tools.
American Blossom Linens
Though it's not gardening-related, American Blossom Linens is one of these incredible sustainable companies and they are the sponsor of today's podcast.
I've shared my love of my American Blossom Linens before, but let me just say the more I use them, the more I love them! Next on my list are some of their towels and the cozy throw!
I've definitely struggled to find sheets that are both soft and durable over the years (even though I line-dry my sheets almost all year long) until I came across this company.
Their sheets are 100% organic cotton, made in the USA, they have no formaldehyde, and I don't have to worry about them being shipped from overseas.
They also offer a two-year risk-free trial on their products. So go and snag yours and get an additional 22% off with coupon code “PIONEERINGTODAY22” at checkout.
Using Greenhouses & High-Tunnels
Greenhouse vs. High-Tunnel
Living in the Pacific Northwest, if you're considering a greenhouse to grow crops during the winter months, they're most likely heated. (If there's no heat source, I consider that a high-tunnel).
I've had a high-tunnel for over a decade. It works very well in the winter months to over-winter cool-weather crops. It works great in the spring and summer for warm-weather crops.
I can actually plant my high-tunnel about two weeks earlier than the rest of the garden. And I also grow my tomato and pepper plants in the high tunnel to prevent blight from overhead rain and watering.
It's important to remember that plants need both light and heat in order to grow. So even if you have a heated greenhouse but not enough light, your crops may not grow very much, even in a warmer climate.
This is usually the case during the winter months when the sun sets earlier and rises later. Without some kind of artificial light setup, even in a heated greenhouse your crops may not grow.
Artificial light is something you'll want to consider if getting a greenhouse to grow crops year-round is your goal.
Now, depending on your first and last frost dates, you'll likely want to start some seeds and using a heated greenhouse is a fantastic solution for this in those colder climates.
Because plants like tomatoes and peppers need to be started around February or March, a heated greenhouse is the only way you'll be able to successfully start seeds outdoors (you can learn how to start seeds indoors here).
Now, for over 20 years I have successfully started enough seeds for my large garden area in a corner of my house with a small growlight setup. You don't need something elaborate in order to grow a garden!
However, with the addition of our new homestead farm stay, we're growing a garden there as well and will likely be selling the extra produce to locals. So I'm currently looking for a heated greenhouse as an addition to our homestead this year.
The size of your greenhouse boils down to needs and budget. However, I have never purchased a large item and wished I had bought something smaller, it's always the other way around.
Personally, I wouldn't go any smaller than a 6'x8′ greenhouse. My recommendation is to purchase the largest item available to you for your budget and your plans.
Growing Crops Over Winter
There is a little bit of a misnomer about growing crops throughout the winter months in the colder climates. You're not actually growing crops, rather, your crops that are already grown are frost-hardy and are just being kept in the garden until harvested.
For me, in the Pacific Northwest, I can keep chard, kale, Brussel sprouts, etc., and keep them in the garden well through January until I've harvested them all. Learn more about growing Brussel sprouts here.
I also use the garden as a storage method for things like carrots and potatoes. Learn how to store potatoes in the ground here.
Keeping Herbs and Strawberries Alive Over Winter
There are a ton of different varieties of herbs that overwinter very well. However, there are some herbs that are annual herbs, they're not meant to overwinter, rather to be planted each year.
There are also herbs that are much more cold-hardy or frost-tender. So you'll want to know what your climate is like (what's your average lowest temperature) to know what herbs are best for your area.
We live in gardening zone 7b, and our lowest temperature is 5°F. At that temperature, I'm able to overwinter rosemary, lavender, echinacea, oregano, thyme, peppermint, sage, and lemon balm.
Rosemary is one that many people have a hard time overwintering, but it's not usually due to the cold. It's because the plant doesn't like to have wet feet. So if you live in an area that gets a lot of rainfall or heavy snow without good drainage, it may just be too wet. I grow my rosemary in a container on my deck to ensure good draining.
You'll also want to know about different microclimates for your property. This can help you know where to plant your garden and overwinter your herbs for the best success. My book The Family Garden Plan and my course The Backyard Gardener both go into detail on using microclimates on your property.
Again, in zone 7b, I can overwinter my strawberries very well. But it's important also to know that strawberries are only a three-year perennial. After about three years the original crown will not blossom or produce fruit.
You can have strawberry plants indefinitely, though, because each plant will send out runners that will become a new plant.
Strawberry plants aren't super cold-hardy. After a few days of frosts and freezes around 20°F, your strawberry plant will go into dormancy. This is good and what you want for your plants.
After a few nights at freezing temperatures, this is when you're going to want to mulch your plants with 2-3 inches of straw to add a layer of protection from the cold and possible snow throughout the winter.
Mulching with leaves can work, but they do get pretty matted down and could cause some damage come spring. Straw will be the easiest to clean out the following year.
If you live where it gets extremely cold, you will want to increase the mulch to about 4-8 inches for added protection. However, if you live where you also get a good layer of snow that stays all winter long, 2-3 inches of mulch covered by a snow layer that doesn't melt off will provide adequate insulation.
As soon as you hit about 40°F in the spring, pull that mulch back to allow your plants the sunlight they need to start growing again.
I actually grow my strawberries in my GreenStalk vertical planter (use code “PIONEERING” for $10 off your purchase) because I can move it next to my house, where I get Southern exposure over the winter months, and they do great every year.
Check out this post for more info about planting and growing strawberries.
Verse of the Week: Psalm 107:35
More Posts You May Enjoy
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- Gardening by Month Series (Garden Tasks by Month)
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- Best Vegetables for Small Spaces and Self Sufficiency
- 4 Tips to Success In Growing Your Own Food
- Seed Packet Information – How to Read Seed Packets for Gardening Success
- How to Plan Your Best Garden & Harvest for a Years Worth of Food
- The Ultimate Seed Starting Guide- Planning, Starting & Mistakes to Avoid
- Seventh-Year Land Sabbath and Bread Baking Tips (Live Coaching Call)
Hey pioneers, welcome to episode number 369. Today's episode is going to be a fun one. I am answering your guys' questions. Now, today's episode is going to be focused mainly around garden and/or growing things questions, but I put up a story on my Instagram account and asked you guys for your questions for podcast episodes. And oh my goodness, you guys sent in a plethora of questions, all across the board on a lot of different subjects. So I thought it would be really fun. I am a podcast junkie, meaning I listen to a ton of podcasts. Podcasts are one of my favorite modes of learning, entertainment, while I'm doing homestead chores, if I'm driving, cleaning. I mean you name it, I am probably listening to a podcast. And I really enjoy it when some of the podcast hosts that I listen to will do a Q&A session.
And one of the things that I really like about that is because oftentimes it's questions that I might not have even thought to ask, but I always end up learning something, and I think they're really fun. And I thought, you know what? I'm going to do that on my podcast. So we are going to have a couple of different episodes because the amount of questions that I got, there is no way that I will be able to answer them in one episode. So this is going to be part one and it may end up being three parts. I know it'll definitely be two. We'll see how many questions I'm able to answer in one episode as we go. And some of the questions will be short and sweet and other ones will require longer explanations. So I am really excited for this episode because I feel like I'm getting to have a conversation with you guys.
One of the questions that I get asked is, how do you find products that are made in the USA and how do you support companies who are doing things in a sustainable manner? And that in and of itself could probably be a complete podcast episode, but one of the companies that I have found, and one of the strategies that I use is trying to focus on one thing at a time. Because if we overwhelm ourselves with trying to replace everything, and this can come, if you were looking at your food and trying to cook more from scratch and use more wholesome ingredients, it really applies to anything on the homestead. But if you try to do a whole bunch at once, you overwhelm yourself and then we're less likely to take action or to stick with it.
So one of the things that I have been trying to do is to find items that are made in the USA, or even in Canada, that are made sustainably, that pay their workers a fair wage, and that is really a quality product. The longer that I have went having my own household, going over 23 years now, is realizing that a lot of the times when I buy things that are cheap or inexpensive, and sometimes that's all I can afford or all I could afford, especially in the beginning, but I realized that over the years of doing that, I ended up having to replace that item so many times because it wore out. Had I bought an item that was made to last in the beginning, I would've saved myself so much money. I would've come out ahead and not just on the financial aspects, but also on the time aspects. Because then when you have something that has broken or is no longer usable, you have to figure out a way to dispose of it. And there's also the time factor, the time factor of replacing that item and then disposing of the other said item and just simply dealing with it.
So I have found now when I can, as budget allows, I really do try to go for a better-made product. And quite honestly, that product usually ends up costing me more. But in the long run, it's very much worth it. And one of those products is from our today's sponsor, which is the American Blossom Linens. They are over 120-year old company, all completely made and done in the USA. They have 100% organic cotton sheets, as well as towels and some blankets. Some of their blankets are cotton and some of them are made out of wool. But what I really like about them is they are woven to last a lifetime. The bedding gets softer with every single wash, and I can attest to that. And that doesn't mean that they're not soft when you first get the sheets, but they do soften over time. And it's like kind of like one of those things that says gets better with age, I have to say that's true about the sheets. They do get softer every time you wash them. And the comfy factor. Is that a term? I'm making at a term, gets better.
One of the other things I like is, as I said, it's sustainable, they're ethically made, they're made in the US, they're very environmentally friendly, pure and chemical-free softness, which means no formaldehyde. Yes, a lot of your linens, sheets and fabrics can have formaldehyde in them. I know. Sometimes you're like, "Oh, maybe I wish I didn't know and learn about certain things," because it kind of makes your skin crawl when you start to learn about some of the things and practices. But that is also a really good reason to seek out companies like American Blossom Linens that don't use those types of practices. Use coupon code pioneeringtoday22, that's pioneeringtoday and then the number 22, for 22% off your order.
Okay, this is a fun question and this one comes from LivMegArgle, and hopefully I'm pronouncing people's handles right, from Instagram. And she asked, "What is your advice on greenhouses and use in the Pacific Northwest, heated, size and for seed starting or growing?" It's actually quite a few different questions, but for a greenhouse and use... Now, I'm going to be talking about the Pacific Northwest because that was what her question said. And obviously I live in the Pacific Northwest, but really this advice, if you're considering a greenhouse, if you live in an environment where it gets cold during the winter months, so that you are unable to grow any crops or especially warm weather crops, you may be thinking about getting a greenhouse.
So if it is a true greenhouse, then it is most likely heated. That's my understanding and definition. A greenhouse means that there is a heat source. If there's no heat source, then I consider that a high tunnel. Now a high tunnel is what I currently have and have used for over a decade. And a high tunnel can work very well in the winter months to, overwinter, cool-weather crops. It can also be used in the summer, well in the spring and in the summer, it can be used year round, but where I'm going with that is you can put warm weather crops in a high tunnel usually about two to three weeks earlier than you could just put them outdoors when you're still having some frost. And then I grow our tomatoes and peppers in a high tunnel throughout the summer months, in order to protect them from the rain so that I don't get blight, and it offers a little bit of extra heat protection.
In past years, our summers are typically on the cooler side, though the past few years we've had some big heat spells that have come through and I still do grow my tomatoes in the high tunnel, though I necessarily didn't need to the past couple of summers. But in a, quote unquote, normal year, that is the only way that I've been able to grow them without dealing with blight issues. And all of that is done without a heater. However, it doesn't allow me to grow much during the winter months. It's more like a extension. So it'll keep cool-weather crops from freezing and it will help them grow earlier in the spring, but it doesn't really allow me to truly grow during the winter months. Part of that is a light factor. We live so far north that our daylight hours are very short during the winter months, and it's both light and heat that affect the plant's growing.
So in the middle of winter, even in the high tunnel, we're not really too cold, but we're just not getting enough light. And so they don't really grow, they just kind of stay the size that they are, which is great as long as moving into winter, the plants have gotten to be that large enough size. And then usually once we hit about the end of February, beginning of March, then they'll actually start growing again. So if I've got like baby lettuce or kale, some of those types of cool-weather crops in the high tunnel, once we have March, they actually will begin to grow again, which is fabulous, but they don't really grow throughout the winter months.
So my advice is if you want to be actively growing throughout those winter months, then you're going to need to provide a heat source, and most likely, a light source with some type of a grow light. And that would be where you're going to need to have a greenhouse that has electricity to it, obviously, in order to do those two things. So it kind of depends on your goal. As I said, if you want to be actively growing, then you're going to need a greenhouse.
Now, for seed starting that is going to depend on your first and last frost date. So for those of us that have a longer winter and spring, meaning we don't stop getting frost until May or even April, then you are going to need to start some of those crops, like peppers, onions, and tomatoes, back February and/or March. And so you will have to have a heated greenhouse if you want to seed start those in the greenhouse because the high tunnel will not provide enough warmth for the soil to be warm enough for them to germinate, nor to protect them once they do sprout. So it depends on the amount of seeds that you're starting though. I have managed to cram a lot of seed start, very strategically, with a couple of grow lights in a corner of our living room for years. In fact that was over 30 tomato plants, 10 pepper plants, even some of my onions starts.
But as we are growing more and more now and we are going to be doing a garden down at our farm stay, which you can check out some past episodes where I have talked about that, we are going to be doing a planting garden there because we're doing teaching workshops. In fact, the gardening workshop will be in May, and I will have links listed for that very soon. If you're interested in coming to that. It will be a hands-on learning workshop, limited to 50 people. We're going to be doing a gardening one in May. And I'm also going to have, not only is that garden going to be a teaching spot and then our home garden that feeds us, but we are going to be selling the extra produce, not a CSA but as a little farm stand on our neighborhood road.
And then to guests that come and stay at the farmhouse, we're doing a farm stay for short-term vacation rentals. And guests will be able to pick and also buy produce from there. So for just a family of four, our high tunnel has worked very, very well. However, knowing that we are going to be upping the amount of things I need to be starting and the people that we're going to be feeding and what we're doing, I'm actually looking at getting a heated greenhouse this year in order to do my seed starting and get a jump on the growing season. So it kind of depends on your goals and what you want to do and the space that you have, whether or not you need a heated greenhouse.
Now as for size, oh, that's a hard one because of course the bigger you go the more money it costs. And again, it kind of all comes down to needs and budget and what you can allow with the finances. But I have to say, when it comes to growing, I have never gotten something and said, "Oh man, I wish I had went smaller." In fact, every year we have increased... Almost every year we have increased our gardening space, added more garden beds in, gotten more containers for some of the things that we do in container gardening. And I was at the point where I'm like, do I make it a larger high tunnel or do I go ahead and get a greenhouse?"
So of course, you have to look at the... We have a really large yard, we have a lot of acreage, so I've got the space in order to put up a larger greenhouse. But you do have to look, obviously, at the space that you've got and cost-wise because the larger you go the bigger it is, and you have to think about what crops am I planning on growing in this greenhouse or is it more as a seed starting? Because seed starts, there's small little tray, and so you can actually do a lot of seed starting in a smaller space. But if everything your seed starting has to be grown in that greenhouse, phew, buddy, then you're going to need a lot larger greenhouse. So you really are going to have to sit and do some work in figuring out on what crops you're going to be growing in that greenhouse, if you are in fact growing the crops in there, or if you're more using it for seed starting and then maybe you're going to overwinter a small amount of crops in there. In that case you're not going to need to go as big.
However, as far as size, I probably personally wouldn't go any smaller than a six by eight. To me, that would be the minimum if I was going to go ahead and do a greenhouse, to make it worth the while, especially putting in power to that type of a structure and just all the things that would entail, I would say for me, personally, I wouldn't bother unless it was a six by eight.
Okay, next question is from... I don't even know how to pronounce this one, Ulrich something. Sorry if that is you and you're listening, I don't know how to pronounce your handle, but your question is a great one. And it says, "How can I keep herbs and strawberries alive overwinter in cold climates with lots of snow?" Well, let's first tackle the strawberries because the herbs really is going to depend on if they are perennial herbs and cold weather hearty herbs, right? And that's so broad. I mean there's a ton of herbs, and a lot of herbs overwinter are just fine. They go into dormancy if they are a perennial. If they're an annual, you're going to have a hard time because really their life cycle is only meant to be for a year as an annual, and you're going to have a harder time keeping those alive and going. It's going to require a heated greenhouse if they are not tolerant to frost and cold weather, et cetera.
So that one, we'd need a little bit more information on specific herbs, but I would say you really going to need to look at... This is where knowing your gardening zone is key because your gardening zone tells you your lowest average lowest temperatures for the year, and it goes in 10 degree increments. And that's really important when it comes to your perennials because it lets you know will they survive what your average lowest temperatures are for your area. So that is extremely important to know if you can keep those alive. So I am gardening zone seven and the coldest temperature that we've had has been 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Now with wind chill, we'll get down lower than that. But actual temperatures, 5 degrees Fahrenheit is the coolest that we get.
And I'm able, at those temperatures, to overwinter strawberries. I overwinter my rosemary, lavender, echinacea, oregano, thyme, peppermint, sage, lemon balm. Of course, I'm never going to be over to winter in those temperatures basil. None of the basils. Those are very warm-weather plants. And rosemary sometimes people can have trouble overwintering. It's usually not the cold aspect, it's usually because rosemary does not like to have wet feet. And if you get a lot of snow and rain, then it needs to have really good drainage. So I have found that with my rosemary, if I have it in a large container on our southern exposure on our back deck where it can radiate off the heat from any light that we are getting and then against the house, I have... My rosemary plant is, oh goodness, 12 years old and I've only been able to do that in a container. Anytime I had it in the ground, it died, which is a little bit interesting because a lot of times when you have a container and that's above ground, it is usually going to freeze more than if it's in ground.
So a lot of times you associate temperature that if it's in ground it's going to be more insulated, and that is true. But with the rosemary, it's more an issue of it needing to be really, really well-draining soil that's more the issue than it is so much temperature, at least in my experience. Now, of course, if you're down into the negatives and et cetera, even if it is well-draining, that might be too cold for the plant. But with the herbs, you're really going to have to look at the perennials, where it's at.
Now, I will say, usually with some strategic use of micro climates on your property, and I've got episodes on micro climates, my book, The Family Garden Plan goes into depth on that, as well as our backyard gardening course, we'll link in the blog posts that accompanies today's episode, which you can go to at melissaknorris.com/369, just the number 369 because this is episode number 369. We will link to that, so that you can see what I'm talking about in depth on micro climates. But that being said, using micro climates and mulching, usually if something says it's hearty to zone, let's say, eight, and I'm zone seven, I usually can get that plant to go through, even if I'm one zone colder, by using those principles.
Now, with your strawberry plants, I did say we were starting with strawberry plants and then I launched into the herbs, so now we will get to the strawberry plant and overwintering question. So strawberry plants are a perennial, they're a short-lived perennial though. They are usually about three years. And then after that, the original crown is not going to produce blossoms and fruit for you anymore. So you do want to keep an account to the age of your crowns, but they will send out runners and create new plants. So you usually aren't having to buy and replace everything every year, unless you don't let those runners root of course, and create new plants for you.
So when it comes to strawberries though, they will overwinter, but they aren't super, super cold hearty. So with your strawberry plants, once you start to have frost and freezes that are in the 20 degree Fahrenheit mark for a few days in a row, that puts the plant into dormancy for the winter, and that's what you want. You need it to recognize that it is cold and that it needs to go into dormancy to not put any energy into growing new leaves, and especially not putting energy into producing blossoms because those blossoms are going to get damaged in that cold weather and that can affect the berry production for the following year. So you don't want to insulate it too soon is where I'm going with this. You need to let it go through some freezes and some frost, so ideally let it... If you're having some overnight temps that are about 30 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of nights in a row, let it go through those. Let it get into dormancy. Then you want to mulch.
So mulching with strawberries, usually straw is your preferred mulch, right? Strawberries kind of makes sense. So you want to use straw. Leaf, I like to use leaves in the general garden, but leaves can mat and not provide as well as production. Again, draining, while draining soil is good for your strawberries because you don't want to get rot in there as well, that can affect the crown and the roots. So ideally, something like either straw or pine needle straw, not something like leaves that, as I said, can get really matted and compacted. Those aren't ideal. So this is an area for straw or pine needle straw, et cetera.
And you want to do it about at least two to three inches after you've had about three days of a good hard frost. Now, I have overwintered my strawberries in a green stock vertical container outside. I do still put straw mulch even in a container, so this is regardless container or in ground. Of course with a container, there's less mass, it's above ground, it is more susceptible to freezing. So the reason I like to use my green stock container for strawberries, if you're going to be planning them in that is it comes on wheels. And so I wheel it, again, up against our house where our southern exposure is because that's the warmest area I've got outside.
We don't have a garage or a barn that I can move and put plants in. If you do when they're in containers, that can be great. So an insulated garage can be a great spot to move some of your perennials, if they're in containers. I would still mulch them with some straw. And you can move them in there and overwinter them. I don't have that though. So a southern exposure area can be a really great place to do that and still mulch them with straw. I've done that. We got down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit last year, as I said, last winter. They came through just fine. I didn't have any blossom damage and we had strawberries off of them and they did great.
If you're going to be colder than that, then you're going to want to provide additional layers of mulch. And you may want to look at just doing some of them in ground. If you're getting colder than that, if you're getting into the negatives, zero, into the negatives, then probably in ground is going to be your best bet and you're going to just mulch heavier. So instead of two to three inches, you're going to go four, six, maybe even eight inches of straw to provide a really good insulating layer. The key though is as soon as you start to warm up in the spring and you're going to be hitting average of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you do want to pull that straw back because that thick of a straw mulch is going to be too much, it's going to block light from getting into those plants. So just keep an eye on those temperatures, and make sure that you rake that straw back in the spring, so that they can come up and grow and grow through their normal life cycle.
Now ,lots of snow in a colder winter climate, however... Snow can act as an insulator. In fact, it does act as an insulator. So if you're an area that's getting a lot of snow and it stays all winter long, still provide a straw mulch layer, but you can probably just do about a two to three inch straw layer and then all of that snow is going to come and if it stays, like it doesn't melt off, et cetera, that's going to actually provide quite a bit of insulation as well.
This is a great one from PhotosForYou and that is, "Is the weather in Washington too severe to winter garden? I would love more winter crop tips, zone nine." So nope, our conditions aren't too severe, meaning I do have some things that make it through the winter. My kale goes through the winter, my brussel sprouts grow through the winter, but I am not actively growing crops throughout the winter. They have to be at almost maturity or harvestable size as we come into fall. And then I can overwinter a lot of things with the use of cold frames, the high tunnel or hoop covers. But that's not really actively growing for me. It's more I'm hibernating things and getting them through those winter months. So I do still have food coming that I can go out and harvest, I should say, from the garden area, but I'm not actively growing crops. And hopefully, that makes sense because even as I say it, I'm like, "That sounds kind of funny," but I wanted to give those distinctions.
If you are in zone nine, you really are able to grow pretty much almost anything. If you get a frost, they're going to be light and probably not that many. And so you can use some row covers for any of those warm-weather crops that would be really affected by them. But when it comes to cold-weather crops, you can grow all the cold-weather crops through zone nine. In fact, it's preferable in those zones to actually grow those in the winter. So you can do cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cold-weather lettuce, beets, carrots, onions, leaks. I mean anything that's considered a cool-weather crop you're going to, with zone nine, have much better success growing them throughout the winter months, and that is just prime time for those. As I said, for warm-weather crops like tomatoes, peppers that need a lot of heat, you'll kind of have to see what your cold temps are. And if you do flirt with some frost or get some frost, they would have to be protected from that. But as far as cold-weather crops grow, oh my friend, you can grow all of them.
This one is from EvaW and says, "I don't know where to even start. What is the easiest to grow for beginners?" Well, easiest to grow for beginners that really depends on what your growing climate is, but I would say overall something like lettuce is extremely easy to grow. They don't have a large root system, they germinate really fast. Lettuce is just a pretty easy crop to just sprinkle, sow your seeds, keep the soil wet, you can grow them at really easy in containers, in ground, you name it. They'll grow in almost any environment and they don't require support. So I would say something like lettuce is really easy to grow. You can pretty much grow lettuce year round. In the middle of summer when it's really hot, of course your lettuce can bolt, but it's not nearly as susceptible to bolting in my experience is things like spinach or your other cole crops like broccoli and cauliflower. Spinach is just a really great easy, fast crop to grow.
This is a good question too from RejoicingInMotherhood. It says, "My squash was outside to cure and it froze. Can I salvage it and can it or something else?" Okay, great question. So if it froze, it depends on if it's... Now, that it's thawed out, bring it inside. Don't let it go through repetitive freezings because that will break down the cell walls and it'll get all mushy and then it's fine for the chickens or compost, but probably not you. But I have had where I've had some get frozen and brought them in, and once they have warmed up, you can really tell. So you're going to want to feel it. Does it feel still like hard on the outside? Is your rind hard? Do you have soft spots? Et cetera. If you feel soft spots beginning, then you're going to need to get it cut up and see how far in do those soft spots go where it hasn't been damaged? But as long as you catch it, which it sounds like you did relatively quickly, you definitely can salvage it. It's just like anything that has been frozen and then thawed, it's going to be mushy and you're going to have to deal with it relatively quick or it will just go on its way to rotting.
So I see if it's mushy on the outside, if it's, like I said, if it's really mushy all the way through, I usually end up tossing it. If it's just a small section that maybe got a little bit froze more than the other, you can definitely cut that out. Now you can cut it or... Excuse me, well, you can cut it, but you can cook it up and just use it immediately. For canning, you want to make sure that it's still hard, that there aren't any soft spots already on there. And then you're going to need to follow the pressure canning rules for it, which is cubed, never pureed, et cetera, for your pressure canner. So as long as it's not soft, go ahead and it should be fine to pressure can. If there is some soft spots, that's where I would cook it, puree it. And then that puree can either be dehydrated, it can be freeze dried, or you can freeze it or of course bake something fresh with it.
Okay, guys. Well, that wraps up this round of our Q&A answer your garden questions, and we will be back with future Q&A sessions answering the rest of your questions that were around a whole different plethora of topics. Welcome to the verse of the week. Today we are in Psalms 107 verse 35. And our pastor a couple weeks ago was preaching on this psalm and verse 35 just really stood out to me, hence my sharing it with you. "He turns a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry ground into water springs." And when I heard that, it really sunk in deep that the areas of our life so often that can feel like a wilderness, when you are walking through a time and a situation, and sometimes it's for a season of time and sometimes it's something that seems to always be with you to varying degrees, but God works on turning those hard times, those wilderness times, those times of hurt, those times of uncertainty, all of those things into a pool of water. He takes the dry areas and makes them flourish.
And sometimes, it's hard because we want to see that immediately, but as I look back on my life more and more, and I am sure as I age, that I will be able to even see this further, I can see those times in those areas or those circumstances that felt just hopeless in the moment, or that there was no way that I could see how anything was going to come out of it. And he completely transforms them in his timeline, and not my own. And so I took this verse as a promise and something that actually brought great comfort and reminders of the things that he has done in the past, as well as things that he will do in the future for his children. Now, I actually encourage you to read the entire Psalm, Psalm 107, because that is one verse, but he also talks about when those who don't follow him, his people, what happens to them as well. And so it's kind of that contrast of following the Lord, doing what he says, and the promises that he has for his people. And then if you don't follow the Lord, the promises that he has for those that go against him.
Anyways, a great... I love the Psalms. They are often very, very encouraging and one of my favorite things to read. So highly recommend that you look at Psalm 107, but I really wanted to share that verse 35 with you. Thank you so much for joining me today. We will be back with a new episode next week. Blessings in mason jars for now, my friend.
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