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Vegetables In Winter

raised bed winterAll through the fall, I was hoping to build a mini hoop house or a cold frame and extend my harvest and try to grow vegetables in the winter.

As you can see in this picture of Swiss Chard covered in snow, I never did get around to building anything. It would have been great to pop open the hoop house on a sunny winter day and cut a nice fresh salad for the family but unfortunately I didn’t have enough free time to get it done.

Well even though it’s February, I’m not ready to give up yet and I’m about to try something new. In March, I usually start seeds in my basement under grow lights. Mostly I start tomatoes, peppers and a few other seeds. Well my idea is to start some very hardy greens this month and then transfer them outside to a hoop house. Having a fresh salad in March is almost as good as in the middle of winter.

The greens I’m thinking about are Spinach, Arugala and Lettuce. According to Four-Season Harvest, those crops should be able to withstand the cold as long as they’re out of the wind. They’d never germinate in those conditions so I figured why not start them in my basement.

And if I’m feeling lucky, I’ll probably add some Swiss Chard, Bok Choy and Broccoli Rabe to the mix as well. I think they’re a little less hardy so we’ll see. I’d love to try some root vegetables like beets, carrots and parsnips too but anything with a tap root usually doesn’t transplant too well.

Once the plants have gotten a good start under the lights, I’ll move them outside and see what happens.

I really want to grow a lot of food this season so I figured I might as well start ASAP. And besides, I really don’t think I can wait any longer to start gardening this year. I’m ready to start now, even if it means trying to grow vegetables in the winter.


  1. Chiot's Run said...
    I have spinach in one of my raised beds and I covered it with a floating row cover (with bamboo hoops) and the spinach looks great! I was out today looking at it and I think tomorrow I'll harvest some spinach for a salad. Of course the key is to have it mature before winter comes, but since it's already established it will start growing and I'll have early spinach as well.
    Anthony said...
    That's great news! Enjoy your harvest.
    Red Icculus said...
    Hey Chiots! I have been seeing you on lots of blogs lately!

    Broccoli raab, cabbage, and chard are great in the cold. If you are going to do romaines, I highly suggest hearty romaines like EZ serve.
    Anthony said...
    Thanks for the lettuce advice Red! I was thinking of using Simpson Lettuce. I heard that they're pretty frost tolerant.
    The Cheap Vegetable Gardener said...
    Spinach has a pretty good germination rate as low as 32 degrees (83%) though could take a while for it to happen, though it is optimum around 40-50 degrees so depnding on how much heat you can keep in your hoop and your daytime temps might be worth a try to try a few outside since spinach can be a tricky transplant sometimes.
    Anthony said...
    Yeah, I think I'll try to direct sow a few things, just to see how they do. Thanks!

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