Winter crops can be grown easily in cooler climates if you can extend the time of your harvest. Some types of crops even do better in colder weather, and some taste even better after a few frosts. Your yard and garden can give you an abundant amount of edible winter crops if you do a little pre-planning. For those of you in warmer climates, you will have a larger selection of fall vegetables to plant.
What Can I Plant?
You can plant crops such as, leeks, parsley, garlic, cilantro, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, beets, and some types of cabbages. What you need to do is to make sure that the hardy type vegetables are protected from the wind and cold temperatures.
You can also grow greens for salads such as, sorrel, arugula, chard, claytonia, mizuna, and mache, and spinach only up until late autumn (for winter harvesting). These are the most reliable crops for you to plant. It doesn’t stop there! You can also grow Kale, endive, escarole, and radicchio.
Your plants will do best if you plant them in cold frames. They can be very simple ones without even having a bottom on them. The main thing is to have the plants covered with glass or a heavy plastic material. This will protect them from harsh wind and will serve as a solar heating plot.
You can build simple home cold frames from any type of left over lumber you may have around the house. Actually, you can construct the frames from anything you may have that will allow for a piece of glass or plastic to be placed over the top and the sides are also covered.
A permanent frame could also be made if you have a place where it is out of the way and doesn’t need to be moved. This could be made from wood, concrete blocks, or even bricks that has a custom fitted lid that will keep the inside temperature above freezing.
Make sure that you position your cold frame where it is facing south or southwest and will receive full sun. Also make sure that the soil under the frame can drain off water very easily.
When you want to estimate the time to get your seeds in for winter harvesting, you should add about 3 weeks to the number of days that it takes from seeding to harvesting, and 5 weeks if you live in colder climates above zone 5.
A zone map can give you this information if you don’t already know it. You will find this information on the seed packet, usually on the back side. After counting up the total number of days for this process, you will then count backwards that number of days to find out when you need to plant your seeds.