Spring and summer may be the seasons most often associated with gardening but people who love to grow their own vegetables can do so even when the weather outside is frightful.
Fall is a great time to plant garlic so it can be harvested in the middle of next year.
“It sets up in the spring for really healthy garlic,” said Mark Lovejoy, who owns Garden Treasures Farm and Nursery with his wife, Patricia. He recommended people should plant garlic during months that end in “r.”
Because the climate in the Pacific Northwest is neither too hot nor too cold, winter protection such as straw or frost blankets isn’t necessary, Lovejoy said. Garlic scapes appear in early-to-mid June and bulbs can be harvested two-to-three weeks later. Garden Treasures produced a blog on the ins-and-outs of growing garlic and it can be viewed at gardentreasurescsa.wordpress.com/2019/09/14/a-growing-garlic-guide-for-garlic-lovers/.
Lovejoy said it takes planning to successfully grow vegetables throughout the winter. Potatoes should be planted in June and can be harvested as needed through the winter. They should be harvested before they have a chance to re-sprout.
“The best place to store them is in the ground,” Lovejoy said.
He recommended other root vegetables such as carrots and beets should be planted by mid-July.
Squash should be harvested and cured to be stored over the winter. Lovejoy said squash should be stored for two weeks at a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees to develop a thicker skin. The squash should then be stored long-term between 50 and 60 degrees.
Growing vegetables in winter requires a different approach than growing in spring and summer, as gardeners must be ready to prevent damage from frost if temperatures get especially chilly. For example, the experts at Michigan State University Extension note that gardeners may need to utilize floating row covers to protect sensitive crops from frost. Gardeners interested in planting winter vegetables can speak with a local garden center professional about which crops to plant and what to do if temperatures push winter vegetable gardens to the brink.
Lovejoy said to check temperatures. Extended periods where temperatures drop below 25 degrees means adding protection for crops such as frost blankets or straw. Generally the ground will be between 30 and 32 degrees. “Your crop doesn’t freeze underground.”
He added that landscape trees, hedge trees and laurel bushes should be planted by December to lessen the effects of transplant shock. Waiting until spring and the erratic temperatures that occur can cause problems with relocating trees.
Though it’s up to gardeners what they want to plant, the following are some popular winter vegetables that can make for wonderful, fresh additions to any dinner table even after the traditional gardening season has come and gone: arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, endive, parsley, parsnips, kale, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and Swiss chard.
For more information, go to www.gardentreasuresfarm.com.