"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Our Winter Garden
We live in the northern part of Idaho in zone 5-6. The last few years we have had milder winter temperatures ranging anywhere from -15° up to 40° in December and January, but we have had -40° wind chills in prior years. The garden being pretty much dormant from December through April makes for a rough time if you want to eat anything green.
About four years ago I started experimenting with growing winter greens under row covers, and it has worked very well for us. The hardest part, other then snow removal, was figuring out just what we could and could not get to grow or at least survive in the winter months.
I have compiled a list of plants that do well for us in the winter - all have made it through the winter one way or another and returned to life at the first sign of spring. Some of these plants do well into December, wither away after a few harsh frosts only to make a dramatic comeback as soon as the temperature stays above freezing for a week or two. Other plants hold steady throughout the winter months.
Arugula - It usually makes it into January, but if mulched a little bit will come back in the spring..wild arugula seems to do best.
Boc Choy - Always makes it through the winter in good shape, the biggest problem is the voles seem to like this plant in particular. Bolts quickly in the spring.
Beet - Bulls Blood beet greens, or should I say 'reds', do well all winter and as long as I keep them cut back they are slow to bolt in the spring.
Cabbage - Does well as long as they are small going into the winter and are mulched.
Chard - Mature plants don't usually survive the first couple frosts but come back in the early spring. Small young chard often provide for us all winter.
Chives - Chives die out in the cold but come back in the spring.
Cress - Belle Isle Cress can do well all winter.
Collard Greens - Ours usually have severe slug problems in the fall but by spring are a whole new plant.
Chicory/Endive - Belgium endive and wild garden chicory do well into December and then suffer much the same as chard only to come back strong as soon as the weather warms. I grow some Wild Garden chicory that has re-seeded itself for the last 4 years.
French Sorrel - My favorite sorrel, next to wild sorrel, likes heat and withstands a couple frosts, much like chicory comes back every year as long as it is left alone and allowed to re-seed.
Kale - One of my all time favorite plants, and the most hardy of all the winter greens. Dwarf Blue Curled Vates (make sure and use the dwarf type) and Red Russian seem to do especially well.
Kohlrabi - If mulched well it will survive well into the winter under row covers.
Leeks - We mulch the leeks and if the voles don't get to them first they come back in the spring.
Mache - A very hardy plant that we sow in the fall for spring greens, it is not a cut and come again plant like all these others so we usually save it for early spring salads.
Mustard - Another plant that can be harvested all winter long.
Onions - If left in the ground most will produce green onions in the very early spring.
Oregano - A garden perennial that can be harvested for soups, pizza, or salads all winter.
Parsley - If kept a little dry it easily survives the winter.
Purple Broccoli - Early Purple Sprouting is an heirloom bred for overwintering and if mulched a bit they do just that, providing spring florets.
Purple Peacock Broccoli Kale - A cross between Green Goliath broccoli and two varieties of kale is new to our winter garden this year but seems to be holding up so far...fingers crossed.
Radicchio - Young radicchio will hold throughout the winter, we plant Radicchio di Treviso.
Radish - Greens do well in cold weather but it really attracts mice and voles.
Red Sorrel - Under cover it is very cold hardy, not very flavorful but a welcome addition to a mid winter peasant salad.
Rutabaga - Greens come right up through the snow in a mild winter.
Salad Burnett - New to our winter garden but we have high hopes for it. Adds a very interesting flavor to salads.
Spearmint - Holds up fairly well much like oregano as the leaves are very desiccant.
Spinach - Spinach does well throughout the winter and really comes to life in the early spring.
Turnip - The root bulb and greens normally hold up well all winter if the voles and mice share them with us.
Short of moving to a warmer climate for fresh greens all year long, this is how we have to make do through the way too long winter months!
Weary of the world and its illogical ways my wife and I have chosen a path towards self-reliance in all aspects of our lives. Our main focus is on growing and gathering our own food. We hope to use this blog as an avenue to share with and learn from others with similar interests.
The Good Life (click↓)
"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." M. Gandhi
"Deep inside everyone of us is a call to the wild. Much of the impatience, discontent or violence around us is due to a lack of opportunity to reconnect with where we came from. For sanity and generosity of spirit, we should be able to witness nature at its unceasing, rejuvenating work." - Abdul Kareem
On Permaculture, Edible Landscaping and Garden Plants
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas
First They Came For My Seed..▼
"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine" - Thoreau
Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling, for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted. Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.
I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories where the machines were made that would drive ever forward toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley; I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city. I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.
Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments of those who had died in pursuit of the objective and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget that they have forgotten. Men, women, and children now pursued the objective as if nobody ever had pursued it before.
The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective. The once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free to sell themselves to the highest bidder and to enter the best paying prisonsin pursuit of the objective, which was the destruction of all enemies, which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects, which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress, to the completed sale, to the signature on the contract, which was to clear the way to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go homewould ever get there now, for every remembered place had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.
Every place had been displaced, every love unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant to make way for the passage of the crowd of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless with their many eyes opened toward the objective which they did not yet perceive in the far distance, having never known where they were going, having never known where they came from.