Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Gardening

Sorry but I also posted this at womennotdabbling so if you read there it is a repeat. I don't usually do that but I wanted I liked how pretty the cabbage was so I decided to post here too :-D

On August 24th I started plants of Red Express Cabbage, Calabrese broccoli and some Nero di Toscano and Lacinato Kale. I put them out in the garden when they were still small and had just about 4 leaves each. Though they have not grown immensely in that time I wanted to post pictures of them to show encourage those of you that do not winter garden that it is easier than you think. The cabbage looks beautiful and the broccoli and kales look as if a few leaves have been tortured. We have though had two stir fry meals off the broccoli tops (no flowers bud yet) and many many meals off our kale. In actuality I have other larger Kale plants so don’t think I am a miracle worker getting many meals off these littler guys. My other kales were from this past spring and lasted through the summer and our waist high to me now. A few leaves will get burnt when it drops low at night but they keep growing new leaves each week and most never do discolor. We eat kale at least once a week if not more — yum.

There are a few reasons why people don’t plant winter foods. Sometimes summer burnout occurs (definitely my main problem) but another is lack of cold frames or frost fabrics and then there is also procrastination. We are all, of course, guilty of this last one. I know I do it when I am uncomfortable or unsure about how to do something. But just by looking at my pictures you can see that though we have had many nights that have dropped into the mid 20’s my plants have made it through without dying. No they do not have a cold frame cover on them nor did I drape frost fabric or quilts or any such thing over them. I could have of course…and they would look a tad nicer. But since my days have always come up in temperature I have not felt that I really HAD to mess with any of that yet. January and February are usually the months we really need frames and fabrics.

Now I know that I live in North Georgia, so of course it is a bit warmer. However, just by tweaking your dates you can accomplish the same thing that I have even if you live in colder areas. My point wasn’t really to tell you when to start or any of that but to show you that even if you don’t have a green house or huge cold frame or spun fabrics…..there are varieties of veggies out their that can do their thing really well even when cold. Which brings me to variety choices.

Part of the reason I decided not to cover some of my plants is I wanted to see if I could find varieties that would take my weather without really needing lots of help. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was because when it does warm up I keep forgetting to uncover the darn things–another of my problems with cold frames. I get busy and forget to open them on a sunny day. Another reason was I am essentially a lazy person on the inside so simpler is better as far as I am concerned. I felt if I could find varieties that will tolerate my nights and days then I may not need cold frames or at least won’t need them as long. Of course a green house would be lovely but since many of us do not have one we must experiment experiment experiment. Since each package of seed is a few dollars at most—less if you seed share—then it is an cheap experiment. My many meals have already paid for my experiment and I still have more lunches and dinners out there. All we needed to do was to read the descriptions on our choices to find some that were suited to colder weather. Here is were I will encourage you to join a group like seed savers since you can find seeds grown by people near you or even in colder areas than you. They can usually give you very good information on how each variety stood up to different weather patterns. Cold and dry, wet and warm, icy, snowy etc.

The last problem I find with growing winter veggies this late is finding meals to use them up in. But that is no big deal now is it? So…again…I am going to encourage you to try this “out of season” growing thing. You could start early this spring with your own experiments. Though do remember the smaller the plant the more likely it will need some cover. But don’t be afraid and don’t procrastinate because your not sure if you can do it. It’s really easier than you think and you will do the V8 smack on your forehead when you finally realize you put it off for so long.

And….last note. I am so sorry Dora didn’t make it M.P. Though I didn’t have time to put one together for today, next week I am going to do an article on sheep/goats and dog attacks and how to treat the animal. I hope to even have a very good friends home made salve recipe to add in—one that can be used for many types of wounds and has an excellent proven track record.

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