The short, dark days of winter can sometimes evoke gloom and a desire to do nothing more than curl up with a good book and a hot cocoa in front of a fireplace. The winter doldrums do not have to be suffered through, though. It is possible to brighten the season by growing winter garden vegetables.
There are many vegetables that thrive in all kinds of climates during the winter. Depending upon where you live, you can choose to plant them outdoors or in a greenhouse. Here are some things to consider when planning a winter vegetable garden.
There are many vegetables that are ideal for winter gardens. Before choosing these vegetables, you want to plan where to grow them. If you are in a northern climate, you might want to use either a greenhouse or cold frames. If you are in a southern climate, you can plant winter vegetables outside just about anywhere you like.
You can decide on the vegetables you want to plant and then, from those choices, determine when and where to plant your garden. Winter vegetables grow just about anywhere in southern climates, but you might have to determine in what direction the garden should face in order to get the most sunlight during the day. The timing of your seed planting is crucial with winter vegetables. You have to know when the first frost will occur.
Most seed packets will display a chart that allows you to determine when it is best to plant them to avoid the first frosts. Another alternative is to look up a growing zone map online. You can see from where you live on the map when the first and last frosts will occur. From this information, you can determine how long your chosen vegetables need to fully grow. Your seed packets should tell you this information. Or, if you decide to plant seedlings, you should be able to get this information from the tag that accompanies the plant.
If your chosen vegetable needs 90 days to mature, you must plant the seeds or the seedling 90 days before the first hard frost. If you live in a warmer climate, you have more leeway in planting your winter vegetables, of course. If the vegetables need 60 or 30 days, you simply calculate the first frost date and plant these vegetables accordingly.
If you want a garden that will keep you busy the whole season, choose vegetables that take 90 days to mature. These include beets, parsnips, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Turnips, leeks, Swiss chard, Collard greens or early cabbage only need 60 days to grow. For a quick garden, select vegetables that mature in 30 days like radishes or spinach.
Brighten the season with winter garden vegetables for a great way to get more vitamins and fresh foods into your family’s diet and it will give you a great excuse to stay active.