If you want to know how you can garden through the winter, then this is an article you ned to read. Doug Oster writes about Niki Jabbour who, while living in Halifax, Nova Scotia found that she could vegetable garden in the winter. She wrote a book titled “The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener,” which you can find by clicking on the link below. Those of us who experience winter weather don’t have to do without fresh vegetables from our gardens until spring rolls around again. If we follow what Niki does, we will be able to garden through the winter.
It was when she had her own home and garden in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that she discovered plants that not only survive the cold but also thrive. While planting garlic one October, she noticed the arugula patch was “looking fine in the sunshine,” she said. That night the garden was blanketed with an inch of snow, but unfazed, the bright green leaves of arugula stood above it. After a thaw, Mrs. Jabbour covered the bed with a floating row cover and harvested through Christmas. A floating row cover is a spun-bound translucent fabric that acts as an insulator for plants. It’s one of many tools she uses to garden all year.
Just two days ago I curated an article about taking your gardening into the house in the winter by growing an indoor herb garden. I was glad to find this article, because, though I could grow a herb garden indoors, the idea of growing vegetables in the winter intrigues me. Doug writes that Niki plants seeds of vegetables that are more able to tolerate cooler weather, such as Swiss chard, endive, beets, mizuna, mustards, kale, scallions and other crops like tatsoi, one of the hardiest and most cold-tolerant vegetable plants. She also chooses plants that aren’t affected by frost, such as spinach, lettuce, arugula and uncommon favorites like pak choi, clatonia and mache. In addition to suggesting seeds to plant, Niki has ways of keeping root vegetables, such as beets and carrots growing through the winter.
The easiest way for beginners to start extending the season is to heavily mulch root crops like carrots, beets, parsnips and others when the weather gets cold. She usually spreads straw or shredded leaves a foot deep, then covers the mulch with a row cover right before the ground freezes in November. The ground won’t freeze under the thick mulch. “All winter long I just lift the cover and harvest the roots directly from the garden, so you don’t have to buy or build anything,” she says. She also builds mini hoop tunnels over her beds of cool-weather crops.
When Doug interviewed Niki, he did a good job of getting her explanation of how to build those hoop tunnels. If you want to try that idea, Niki shares her method of constructing those hoop tunnels and other cold frames in Doug’s article, which you can read by clicking here or on the link below. According to Niki there are additional benefits of keeping a garden through the winter–no deer and no slugs to contend contend with. I like the idea of not having to deal with summer bugs. Have you done any gardening in the winter? Let us know and LIKE us on Facebook.