Tips on Growing Cold Weather Crops

The Holland author shares tips on growing cold weather crops, includes information on growing endive and broad beans in low temperature climates.

| April/May 2000

Tips on growing cold weather crops from a cold weather Holland native. 

I've got some gardening advice for people who steward the land in northern areas when growing cold weather crops. I live in Holland, and our winters bring snow, frost, rain and mud . . . with temperatures that typically range from 10 degree Celsius to -10 degrees, and sometimes dip to -20 degrees.

Endives (Cichorium endivia L.) are supposed to flourish only in fairly warm soil (if planted in earth that's too cool, the green will bolt instead of putting out lots of leaves) . . . therefore, most people start sowing their seed in early June. But I've found that if endive is planted sometime in August or September and then cut back before winter (don't snip the heart out, though), a gardener can leave the roots in the soil and harvest little bunches of endives in April and May, long before anyone else does.

I've had success using roughly the same technique with broad beans (Vicia faba), too. Just sow the seeds in September and watch the little plants sprout. Then in October, they'll stop growing and—believe it or not—will be able to endure temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius! So, in the spring, you can be the first one to eat fresh broad beans, approximately a month before plants sown in February would bear!

—R.v.d. Peppel Utrecht
(Country Lore, June 1983)

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