Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Planning for winter: growing in the garden

Winter in the garden is less about work than about foresight.  I've been planning for winter gardening all summer long.  Not all of my plans will come to fruition (like my plan for a fresh leek harvest, sadly), but many seem to be on good course.

What do I have planned for winter growing/harvest?

Cabbage

I sowed winter cabbage seeds in mid summer, a variety called January King 3.  Most of them are big and leafy, and forming heads.  I believe it is a savoy type cabbage, well suited to standing winter temperatures.

Brussels sprouts

True, the young plants I sowed from this year's seed are small and unlikely to produce much this winter--they may even just go to seed in spring without producing at all.  But I do have several of last year's plants, gone to seed this spring, and regrowing new little sprouts now.  I cut down the biggest sprouts plants after they formed seed to make way for new crops, but the smaller ones weren't taking up much room, so I let them stay.  In this vein, I have a cabbage plant which is still growing and producing small heads on long stalks--now in its third year! 

Leeks

What, leeks?  Yes, I may still be able to eat my leeks, flowering and trying to set seed all summer.  They've been in the ground for more than a year now, but they might still be edible!  I'll be giving them a try at least.

Salad greens

I mentioned in a previous post that the slugs keep eating all my lettuce seedlings.  Hopefully they will leave my lambs lettuce and miners lettuce alone.  We haven't had garden salad since early summer.  I also have a couple small spring onions left, growing for winter use.

Chard and kale

Though not related to each other, these two are the plants that keep on giving.  Although growth is slower as the days get shorter, there should be enough to give us fresh winter greens once or twice a week in winter.

Pumpkins and potatoes

There are two small to medium sized pumpkins ripening on the vine as we speak.  I have high hopes for them:  pumpkin pie, certainly.  I have one remaining potato plant, now hiding behind my tangle of runner beans.  By necessity I won't be digging them out until the runners are done. 

Beets, rutabaga and celeriac

The beets and rutabaga are chancy.  I sowed seed of both in containers in July and August (sowings in the ground disappeared quickly), and have some good plants growing but only a little root formation so far.  The later sowings are pretty small still, but I'm keeping them well watered and hoping for the best.  As far as celeriac goes, I believe I have three still surviving--and they aren't very big!  But I'll let them grow until first frost.  If nothing else, we can eat the greens off all of three.

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