Fall and Winter Gardening
Contributed by Bonnie H.
I recently went to a workshop on fall and winter gardening taught by Bill Thorness who authored the book Cool Season Gardener. COOLSEASONGARDENER.COM
Why gardening the fall and winter? First, it fulfills the p-patch requirement that we cover our soil over the winter months. Second, in our environment, you can harvest food all winter long and get a head start on produce for the spring. With our rain in the winter, you don’t have to worry about watering your garden. Some of the vegetables that grow well in the cooler weather are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, and Swiss chard. I harvested broccoli, cauliflower and purple cabbage all winter long. I left the plants in the ground after I harvested so they held the soil and then just took them out in the early spring and composted them. Some good root vegetables for winter are carrots, beets, turnips, and rutabagas. Root vegetables should not be given too much nitrogen as that causes more leaf growth and takes away from the root growth. What they need is a fertilizer where the middle number is higher than the first on. The middle number is for phosphate. I suggest Dr. Earth’s 3-18-0.
Another good reason to plant certain vegetables right now is to put nitrogen into your soil. Plant peas and beans now and you can harvest them in 45-60 day. Then cut the plants down to a couple of inches from the soil. The roots as they die off will put nitrogen into the soil, and continue to hold the soil in.
Flowers: Why plant flowers in the fall and winter? First of all, they work well as cover crops. Salvia and snapdragons bloom all winter and attract the species of humming birds that winter over in Seattle. They also attract early pollinators to give your early vegetables like peas and beans an early start. And they continue to attract spring humming birds that eat bugs and bug eggs. I will be putting some snapdragon seeds in the free seed box in the trailer.