6 Tips for Winter Organic-Gardening Success

| 11/30/2015 11:17:00 AM

Tags: winter gardening, garden planning, permaculture, Joshua Burman Thayer, California,


Depending on where you are in North America, by now winter is either gently nudging or banging loudly on your door. Fear not: There are steps that can be taken to achieve good garden growth through the winter months. For readers wishing to increase capacity during the frosty months, read on.

Natural Slugs-Be-Gone

With the cooler, wetter conditions late fall becomes slug season. In our downtown San Francisco garden, the slugs seem to first go for the broccolini. One way to dissuade them is by planting an “Onion Moat.” This perimeter is distasteful to slugs and snails and seems to slow down their slimy march into the leafy greens.

Another way to discourage pest is by spraying organic peppermint oil at dusk. I drop 10 drops into a 750 mL spray bottle. At dusk once per week, I spray the tops and bottoms of each leaf. This peppermint oil is unpleasant to slugs, while not leaving a foul taste in the produce. (Note: Only spray at dusk and not more than once per week.)

Mulch for Heat

Another way to buffer root temperature is with mulching. One trick I like is to stack hay bales vertically on the windy side of the garden to create a windbreak.  These bales can then, one at a time be laid out as mulch to insulate winter plants. As I mentioned in my previous post, Thinking Outside the Box, by building trellis’ to the north edge of growing areas, we increase vertical productivity. As an added bonus, each of these trellises also reduce the cold northern winds.

Another way to buffer plants and create a living mulch is to intensively plant. Known as the French Bio-Intensive Method, this method was brought to the United States by luminary Alan Chadwick through the University of California-Santa Cruz garden program and further popularized by Chadwick disciple, John Jeavons. In his book, How to Grow More Vegetables, Jeavons outlines how to intensively plant a patch for succession harvest. 

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