It’s 11 July! Have you started your winter garden?

It’s always Dog Days around here

We’re getting our first sweet corn here (boiled exactly 2 minutes, enfolded in butter and eaten) and tomatoes, and we’re deep into blueberries and cherries, yet my thoughts are turning to the winter harvest crops.

It’s quite a disconnect if you haven’t done one before:  just when you see the vegetables visibly growing, practically leaping toward the sun, it’s now that you need to be planting your winter garden.  In my part of the world, I can harvest plenty of stuff out of the outdoor gardens all winter long.  My leg up of course are the greenhouses but really, I am talking about outdoor winter harvesting:  root crops, leeks and collards are easily grown with nothing on them but all that snow.  With the minimal protection provided by row covers of agricultural cloth, I can add winterbor kale, escarole and radicchio.

Even if you’re looking forward to a garden-free winter, an autumn harvest is well within your grasp.  Around the first week of July is when I am seeding fennel, kohlrabi, rapini and broccoli for the first crops of each for the year (Sept-Oct harvest).  I find the warm summer days and cooling evenings of summer to be more favorable for these vegetables:  they respond better, are more tender, and aren’t pithy or bitter…all their fates if they’re spring-sown.  Favas, peas, second plantings of cucumbers are all going in now, as well as a second batch of summer squash.  I am also seeding for a baby leek harvest in February.  Succession-planting of beets, carrots and lettuce continues.  In other words, it doesn’t end.

Territorial Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds produce catalogs just for the winter-harvest market.  Check them out.

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13 responses to “It’s 11 July! Have you started your winter garden?

  1. I’m hoping to start some fall seedlings soon. I want to try dinosaur kale and brussels sprouts.

  2. What a GREAT dog photo!!! 🙂

  3. Ugh. It’s so hot here that sowing for the winter garden leaves me limp. Typically, we sow at the end of August. If we don’t get any rain, NOTHING is going to grow. We’re down 20″ for the year, down even more south of the interstate, where we live. In town gets much more rain than we do at the house. I’ve got to water all the time now. We haven’t gotten significant rain in several months now. dry dry dry.

    But…I AM planning my greens bed for the winter. I hope to do better this year than last. Right now we’re just NOT getting the cooler, or at least not as hot, night temps. This am, at 6:30, it was already 80°. At 8:30am, heat index was 98°, on it’s way to 110°. I’m melting…I’m melting…

  4. fall beans planted, 3rd trials for cucumbers, maybe I’ll get some this time. Beets continuously planted. More Swiss chard. Carrots soon. I guess nothing to loose by planting more summer squash… The brassicas: I am going to try pre-germinating them in the fridge. It is so darn hot here – “cooling evenings of summer” does not apply here!

  5. Keeping up with succession planting here, and planning on more as the alliums come out–I love doing green beans after garlic, they are ready to harvest right when I’m a little bored with the “regulars”. Making an order today for some fall stuff, trying to think ahead for next spring too, but you’re right, hard to wrap your mind around it when we’re approaching high summer.

  6. Haven’t embarked on much yet except for more rounds of kale and lettuce, but I’m going to do more beans and greens after the garlic comes out next week, and what the heck, might as well try cukes and zukesI didn’t get in a round in May as I should have. (It’s been a crazy summer so far.)

  7. Busted out the grow lights in the basement last weekend for kale and cabbage. Glad you think cukes are still do-able; I just got them in a bit ago and was worried I’d have no pickles for Grandma at Christmas!

  8. I have to rely on the root cellar and sometimes I envy those who can harvest all year. Here, in the mountains of central Idaho, I would need a backhoe to get to the ground and then have to build a bonfire to thaw the ground enough to dig it. But it’s OK because I feel joy for those of you who get to keep eating fresh.

  9. I’m building a modified hoophouse “leaning” on the house to use its heat mass in the winter. Probably won’t start seeding until 1st week in August: lettuces, maybe broccoli, kale and some other greens. Canning apricot and raspberry jam this week and watering like crazy!!! Some of my tomato plants are almost 6 feet tall. I’m happy with the new productivity but I wasn’t reallt expecting this. Wonder if that new compost I got glows in the dark….

  10. Saw Tom’s new piece in Harper’s. We both loved it. Cranky squealed. I might have a box of unused X-acto blades somewhere; interested?

  11. It’s so hot here right now that I’m just putting in cover crops until mid August…then I’ll put in my fall and winter crops 🙂 I can hardly wait!!!

  12. Daedre, Brussels sprouts might take a while to sprout on you (they’re typically 100 day plants) but don’t let that stop you. If they get to be about 18″ tall with wee little sprouts, go ahead and take off the top 4-5″ and the sprouts will get big quickly. Plus, they can take the cold! But I think you’ll love dinosaur kale.

    Ellen, Penny is mostly a great dog! She can be a bit overenthusiastic with her herding is all.

    Jules! I would throw you some relief but it’s hard to find up here too (ask your mom!). Mulcharoo to help keep what little moisture in…incidentally my okra and collards are looking fantabulous right now thanks to all this heat.

    Sylvie, yeah I guess all overnight cooling is relative, eh? That’s a great idea with the brassicas. And yeah, I find second or third plantings of summer squash tend to do lots better than the first (and of course I pull the first ones as soon as there’s any trouble or slacking off of production…). I had to plant 2nd batches of cukes last year because it was too cold here, isn’t that funny? But beets and chard seem to sail through, whatever the weather.

    Sara, I know; no rest for the weary. But succession planting does something to you: it makes you hate seeing open dirt! Opportunity lost! And beans are great in the succession plan; green, shell or dry they’re very worthwhile.

    Teresa, exactly: even if you miss May there’s June, July and August to get things like squash up and out of the ground. And yeah, cray-zay. I do hear you…lots of balls up in the air here too. Different opportunities is all it means, at least garden-wise.

    Emily, grow lights? You are dedicated! I just sow a row and am done with it with things like cabbage, broccoli and kales…once they get to the true leaf stage (and are crowded and itchy to grow) I just move them to their permanent locations. But I do hope you can get pickles too 🙂

    Pam, you’re describing my Minneapolis garden to a T. Luckily I liked winter squash and stored spuds, cabbage and onions! I think the only thing I could harvest in the winter there was sage.

    JoAnna, how exciting! I think you’ll love extending the growing season. And apricot jam, boy that has to be my favorite…gotta see if they’re ripe here yet. Could be, considering how hot it has been.

    CC, as you can imagine, my husband invests heavily in the X-Acto company, we always seem to be swimming in them here. I found one in the bathroom recently (and fumed). You want to hear something funny? Those lottery tickets he cut up? He won something like $180 with them. Gave it back to Harper’s for any charity they wanted.

    Melissa that’s a great Plan B plus the cover crops will be doing something for you until you can use the ground for food crops. Great idea!

  13. The last few days have been much cooler, and grayer, with a couple of big downpours. I jumped at the perfect timing and got almost all the fall stuff in. So far, so good. The expansion has really helped (even though I want more room).

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