REGION – No greenhouse? No problem! Just because we live in New England, doesn’t mean the end of summer determines the end of fresh veggies. See green through the deep winter months by cultivating a winter garden; some things are improved by the cold weather!
What grows in the snow?
Spinach grows better within a raised covered bed, but it will endure the cold temperatures continuing to grow below the soil as well as above. A simple raised bed with a glass top – even an old window you found free by the side of the road – will not only allow you to collect fresh spinach all through the winter months but also guarantee fast verdant growth come springtime.
Leeks are not bothered by winter’s chilly winds or short daylight hours. Check your seed packets to see which varieties will tolerate the cold better than others. They do not require a raised bed to grow during the winter.
Kale, collards, and chard are vital, diverse sources of iron and B vitamins. These troupers will grow and show all winter long! They do not require a raised bed, but it could be a sensible way of keeping the snow from overcoming them during our deep freeze.
Parsnips love the snow, and the cold temperatures turns up the production of the sugar, making them taste even better. They are also very beneficial in the diet for fiber, poly-acetylene anti-oxidants and vitamin C.
Another vegetable, like Parsnips, that is improved by the cold temperatures is cabbage. Varieties with crinkled leaves bear winter better than flat leaf varieties. They are better when planted in late summer so they’re an edible size for winter. The plants do not require covering in a raised bed.
Carrots are best left to two frosts before harvesting. The starches turn to sugars and taste better when left to survive in cold weather.
Planting garlic in October gives you a harvest the following June through August. Best results come from using a cold frame, which is a simple box made of any number of materials topped with glass or clear greenhouse plastic. The earlier in October you plant it, the better your summer harvest will be. Take care to keep soil aerated and loose so bulbs are free to grow.
There are many more varieties that grow well in the snow: brussel sprouts, beets, turnips, lettuce etc. With a little ingenuity and elbow grease, you can keep a bumper crop coming out of your winter garden without the expense and space commitment that comes with having a greenhouse.
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