In the comments to a recent post Laura asked me to write about what survives in my garden over the winter and what I plant specifically in the fall to overwinter.
Our usual wonderful fall weather turned into what is more like early winter. So here I am still planting and trying to get ready to make sure I have a few things TO winter over.
As you’ve “heard” me mention in various posts, whether or not something will “make” it is never written in stone. Too many variables for that. So all I can do is generalize and tell you of my experiences.
That should give you a jump on starting your own discoveries.
Garlic planted in October is looking great. Garlic planted in November is not up yet. Still have at least 80 more cloves to plant that would bring the total to 220. Hope they’ll grow good roots in spite of our unseasonably cool weather. I’ll know soon enough.
More than the usual amount of small onions were left in the ground this year. I’ve pulled some as spring onions.
In these freezing or close to freezing temperatures the outer part of the onion usually “falls away” and the inside part continues to grow to make another spring onion.
I always think they won’t make it through the winter, but am surprised to see many have renewed themselves in the spring giving me early garden treats.
A Virginia market grower planting onion seedlings in the fall and having them winter over is something I’ve read about only once.
This can provide a much earlier start for your onions if you can do it. It’ll depend on how cold it gets. But if you have good luck, your overwintered seedlings will be much bigger in the spring than the seedings you start from seed in January. Thus, you’ll get earlier onions and many will be bigger as well.
If you don’t grow that many onions you might find it doable to give them some protection over the winter.
When last I tried to winter over fall-started and only lightly-covered seedlings, I lost at least half to freezing weather.
Scroll down in this post to see pictures of how I protect plants in various degrees of cold weather.
It might give you some ideas for the onions as well. I plant way too many onions to make it practical for me to cover those in addition to the lettuces.
No problem getting through cold winters with mache. It’s beautiful encased in ice and just as beautiful and delicious when the ice melts.
The one draw back to leaving it uncovered is it doesn’t grow much until spring. If you give some protection during the winter you’ll see a big difference in how much it grows.
Some always comes up with my lettuce (which is under cover in severe cold) and those mache plants provide more for me in the winter than ones without protection.
I’ve not gotten serious about growing Brussels Sprouts. But I’ve had them winter over much to my surprise.
I won’t give collards space in the fall garden, although I should. That’s when they taste the best. They’re said to be cold hardy into the upper teens.
A few undercover with your lettuces might last the winter.
I’ve just gotten serious about growing cabbages since I see the hand writing on the wall about food shortages. (Cabbage and carrots are staples for me all year; provided by my garden in season and the grocery store in the winter.)
I wasn’t sure how cabbage would winter over for me. If grown in the spring and the fall/winter, cabbages from my garden should be enough without having to depend on a grocery store..
Planted several late last fall. Three of them disappeared (or so I thought). When ready to plant in late spring in that section – what a surprise to see those three cabbages. Still tiny. But they grew into the most beautiful cabbages by the end of July.
This year some light cover was provided for the fall planted cabbages. I’m hoping for quicker maturity in the spring because of the light protection.
As with cabbage, I’m just getting serious about carrots.
Carrots will winter over if you can provide the right conditions.
Last year I had beautiful carrots that I planted to winter over. When temperatures fell, I dutifully cut the tops back and covered with enough mulch to protect from freezing but hopefully not allow more top growth.
In two weeks it turned way too warm for wintering over carrots. Tops started growing. That ruins the quality of the carrot.
Pulled them up and stored in the frig crisper.
This year I planned to try again, but didn’t get them planted until too late to get good growth in time for winter.
I knew that when planting, so I didn’t plant many. Just enough to “learn” what would happen. They’re small but growing. Since they’re at the end of my lettuce bed, they were convenient to cover. We’ll see what happens.
As long-time readers know, I allow select things to seed in my garden.
One such plant is Russian Kale. It seeds in the fall and sits at about 3 to 5 inches all winter. It always looks rather pitiful and every year I think it (or they) surely won’t make it.
But it always does. And in the spring fulfills its potential for growth.
A few plants come up from seed in the spring but it seems to me that the ones that winter over do especially well.
I’ve read that beets will store in the ground during the winter if heavily mulched. I’ve never had enough left over to try it.
Lettuce will make it through 28ºF. Only thing is when the forecast calls for 28º – it can easily go lower. That will take its toll on lettuce although some could still make it through.
Important Note for Plants Under Protection
If you want to experiment and/or be on the safe side — try what you want to winter over in the green house, (or under covers), and one or more without protection.
I hope my experiences will help make yours even more successful.
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