On fall-planted winter gardens

Plant me!  (And ignore the weedy paths!)

You know, going on vacation kinda sucks in one and only one way:  the work that you’d otherwise be doing if you stayed  home still needs doing.  I woke up at 4 this morning in a minor panic about all that hasn’t been done.

So, on to the greenhouses.  The one concept one needs to get one’s head around about the winter garden is it’s a harvesting garden, not a growing garden.  I should underline, bold-face, italicize that:  one harvests most of the fall, winter, and early spring.  This means the plants that are in there once it starts getting cold have to be, well, not small!  Thus, my early-morning panic.

Penny, showing off some of the new greenhouse frame:  more work ahead.

You see, I am still growing some tomatoes in the new greenhouse beds, but they’ve gotta go.  These are mostly the paste tomatoes, and yes, they’re still fruiting…though admittedly the plants look mighty sad compared to the beauties growing indoors in the “old” greenhouse.  The lower leaves on these outdoor ones are brown and crumpled, and, in general, just look spent.  Indoors?  I swear they just get taller, and bushier.  Currently it’s a spider web of jury-rigged support twine hanging from the framework in there.  But those tomatoes have gotta go, too, as do the peppers and eggplants; I will give them to the end of September, then they’re compost.  It’s still mighty hot in the greenhouse (100/day, 60/night), so I am a bit scared to plant the usual winter garden suspects (lettuces, mainly, and some kales).

This whole succession-planting thing is a bit of a juggle, I admit that.  I don’t usually drop the ball because I really try to nibble off my tasks daily.  Monday, the first day of school, was such a day.  After dropping the kid off but before I start in on my job, I went to the new greenhouse beds and planted broccoli, kale, oak leaf lettuce and some escarole in one bed.  If I do one bed a day, then hey, in 8 days the remaining beds will be filled!  But, oh yeah, I have to evict another six beds of tomatoes first.  Sigh.  I need to pick up the pace.

I will be kinda glad when tomato season is over.  Tomatoes can be tyrants. And all I will *have* to do daily in a couple of months is harvest some goodies out of the greenhouse for dinner.  Sound good to you?  Me too.

7 responses to “On fall-planted winter gardens

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I want to start my Winter garden much later than is possible. One thing I do for cool weather crops going in the greenhouse is the opposite of early Spring starts. I start plants in pots outside, then move them to the greenhouse when it gets a little cooler.

  2. Did you forget that you have nine million jars of vegetables?
    You could take another vacation.

  3. How wonderful that you have a good crop. Here in Missouri, we had so much rain nothing did well except for corn and grape tomatoes. Yellow squash started out good but then for some reason black mold looking all over new squash, I hope some day to have a green house. Thank you for sharing your garden with me.

  4. El, you lucky dog, if I don’t plant my winter crops by mid August at the latest, they don’t do too well. We get too many cloudy days.

  5. Hi Edward. I do the same thing, though instead of pots I have beds of seedling starts. It works pretty well, but I really need to be on top of the schedule to make sure they’re transfered to their new beds at the right time. I leave some in the start beds; they’re cold-season crops after all, and hey, I’ve been known to throw a piece of plastic over it…

    Pamela, yeah, and my freezers are getting full too. It’s been a good year! woot! (But actually I am going away again in a couple of weeks.)

    Hi Grammy: you guys seem to be on the same path we are: this is our 4th season here too. Yeah, I know when to be gleeful, considering how weird a year it’s been for so many folks. Next year, you all will probably be up to your necks in veggies and I will be struggling. That’s the way it is!

    Ah, Nita, all I can figure is you’re higher up and cooler. We get lots of clouds too but they don’t really show up until December 🙂 which is frankly good for the greenhouse stuff! And I saw your kale: it is huge.

  6. What is your favorite resource book on fall/winter gardens?

  7. Hi Liz! Look in the Books tab at the top of this site, but Eliot Coleman’s Four-Season Harvest is the best book specifically on winter gardening.

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