Gardening in the winter is not a common practice for most households. Folks tend to think of gardening as only an April through Sept. activity. However, through winter months, fresh produce prices tend to increase, and it usually isn’t as fresh or abundant as other seasons. This can make it tough for families during winter months.
Amber Richards author of two gardening books How To Improve Soil Condition in Your Garden and Pest Control for Organic Gardening states, “In most regions, people can learn how to grow some incredible crops during the winter to provide fresh, organic produce for their families and see a good savings in food budgets. Winter is also an ideal time for other gardening tasks as well”.
It can be a time to plan next year’s garden or future yard projects. That might include cold frames for winter gardening, raised beds, or a new fountain to be put in. It can be a time to join some heirloom seed exchanges and make new friends.
Cold frames can either be purchased ready made, or built using a variety of materials. Many folks recycle items lying around to use as cold frames. In a very basic sense, it is a box structure with a glass or clear plastic lid, usually set on top of the ground, although there can be many variations.
Cold frames stretch a growing season significantly, by allowing plants to be grown much earlier (and in some cases later) than usual. Vegetables may be seeded right where they will be grown with the cold frame setting over the plants. When the weather warms to a point that it’s no longer needed, the cold frame is simply lifted up and moved elsewhere. Sometimes it’s used to ‘harden off’ seedlings and transplants before those young plants are moved to the garden.
A person will have to keep an eye on the daytime temperatures when using a cold frame. If outside temps is about 40 degrees, the glass lid will need to be slightly opened to vent the area so it doesn’t become too warm. If outside temps hit 50 degrees,the glass lid will need to be fully opened until late afternoon, then closed for the night. Below 40 degrees, keep the lid closed.
Some good crops to try in a cold frame are lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach, arugula, radishes, Swiss chard, cabbage, and kale. Imagine picking fresh vegetables for dinner, in the winter.
Winter gardening also gives reason to get some fresh air and exercise, both which are sorely needed during the colder months.
Amber Richards books can be viewed at: http://pestcontrolorganicgardening.com/ and http://improvesoil.com/.
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