What Did You Do With Your Garden Over the Winter?

| 1/27/2010 9:17:52 AM

Tags: winter gardening, garden beds,

What's your winter garden m.o.? Did you plant cover crops? If so, which ones? Did you cover grass with cardboard to prepare new beds? Share your tips and tricks with our readers in the comments section below.

3/19/2010 10:47:48 AM

Garlic, onions, scallions, leeks; several varieties of lettuce; leeks; spinach; cabbage; mustard greens; carrots.

angela harris_2
2/10/2010 10:09:39 AM

I planted a winter crop of greens,here in the south part of good ole George,. we can grow three to four crops a year.i do most of it all by my self,we use our chicken and rabbit droppings along with home made compost.everything works out real good untill we get too much of the liquid sunshine.but is still a good thing .ANGELA

2/3/2010 11:19:10 AM

First thing I had to do was remove the "bane of my existence", I had a Black Walnut tree in the garden, and it was reeking havoc on my crop rotation! Hated to do it, but got it cut down, as well as some other crazy tree that was sucking up all of my irrigation. Looking forward to getting things started! Going to build a shed, and attach a greenhouse to it as well! Check out the blog (little behind, but getting ready to get started again!) vegetableherder.blogspot.com

dave ownby
2/2/2010 7:53:46 PM

When I was stationed in Germany in the 60's and 80's, I lived off post in small villages. The farmers in that area would take their manure (mostly pig manure) and spread it on top of the snow. Spreading it on top of the snow gave them a starting place the next time they had a load of manure to spread.

2/2/2010 2:48:12 PM

Shredded all garden waste with a wood chipper and then tilled into garden and then planted garden to rye for the winter.

2/1/2010 7:49:11 PM

Up in freezing cold Connecticut: I built raised beds for the first time, filled them with soil. In one of the beds I mixed some rich organic matter and planted it full with garlic gloves from Hood River Garlic in Oregon, which I then covered with a 6" layer of old leaves from the bottom of my leaf pile.

mary mcavinchey
2/1/2010 6:16:36 PM

I have six 3"x8"x6' beds. I brought fresh and old manure from my horse and all the maple leaves I raked up in the yard and spread this over the beds. I would've liked to get chicken or cow manure but was too late. I have mixed results with different veggies each year doing this. This last summer I couldn't get a tomato plant to grow to save my soul. But I planted cole plants twice and had really good broccoli, lettuces, kohlrabi, some first year strawberries. Just no tomatoes?? This is a first.

rick mcevoy
2/1/2010 9:36:40 AM

I plant rye as aa cover crop,add leaves,kitchen scraps and sometimes wood ash.SometimesI'll just plow it up at the end of our harvest. I also rotate crops but,every 2 years.We rent our tillable ground to our Amish neighbor and he always is nice to spread a few loads of cow manure over top of all of this. If I have a few pigs I'll use that manure also.Pig manure is best.

steven dejong_1
1/31/2010 12:14:11 PM

I let my chickens run through my garden fertilizing for the coming year garden

gene worthington
1/30/2010 5:03:45 PM

we tilled the oak leaves in and spread the ashes from the wood burn piles around the garden we started 66 pots in the cold frames today still cool 65 daytime 40-50s at night seeded carrots,broccolli,brussel sprouts, and snow peas see what happens

gayle beaupre
1/30/2010 1:41:22 PM

I didn't do much only what the Deva (Spirit) of the garden told me to do and that was keep it simple and pray for snow. That is what she says every year unless something is really needed and then I do it. This year was only pray for snow and it arrived. If it stays on the ground and covers the Mother we will be all set for spring. When she will tell me what to do from there. Wonderful entities to have around.

annclaire ketron_2
1/30/2010 1:13:09 AM

Well, there was entirely too much wind (15-25mph) for me to spread the leaves out on the garden before the 10-14" of drifted snow this week. I should be able to start working the compost heaps over the next couple of weeks, so maybe I can get some of the leaves started in there. I have a call in to Tradio for wood ash for the minerals to spread this week ... I'll spread them over the top of the snow, then rake the snow to mix and it should carry the minerals into the 14" organic soil. This year I left the whole garden go fallow without cover crop since I am extending the garden this spring and will be "rearrainging" all the soil. I'll have at least 15 cu yds of finished compost and will need to get it mixed in well to offset the clay that is coming from the extension. New garden size will be 12' x 50' in a 20' alley between my house and the neighbor. Zone 6a.

1/29/2010 10:48:15 PM

I am so jealous of all the things the others wrote. All I did was dig big holes in my garden before the ground froze so I could take all my compostables out all winter. Oh and I picked up bags of leaves at the shopping center and covered what I could of it in hopes it will be more workable in spring.

1/29/2010 10:46:14 PM

Live in Western CO at 5300 feet zone 4b. old and arthritic but I keep trying.

harvey yoder_1
1/29/2010 8:49:45 PM

I'm experimenting this winter with having spring oats as my cover crop. I sowed it as early as possible after harvesting my sweet corn and beans and well before the first frost, and fed it lots of horse manure, thus allowing it to grow over a foot tall. Our cold weather here in Virginia has now killed it and it lies on the ground matted and hopefully it will decay some over the winter. Unlike the rye cover I have usually used, I won't have the difficulty of keeping it from coming up voluntarily next spring and summer, in spite of my doing a thorough spring tilling. So I hope to till as little as possible, just enough to break ground for planting and without disturbing the earthworms too much.

janet gardner_4
1/29/2010 7:30:39 PM

O. K. Jake, we've heard you! As coordinator of our city's first ever community garden - they said it couldn't be done - I am going through our first winter. First, I would recommend getting a soil test. Most extension offices offer this, many for free. Amendments added in the winter have time to be incorporated into the soil. We are on an extremely limited budget (no budget actually) and found that there is lots of free stuff out there. Our soil was heavy clay with an extremely low Ph (too much acid). This winter we added chopped leaves, high in organic matter by acidic, pellet lime to compat the acid, and lots of goat manure, free from local farm. One advantage of goat manure is that it can be used without composting. Last year our 1/2 acre garden allowed 20 low income gardeners space to grow their own food (4' x 16' plots) and provided over 200 lbs of excess to feed the homeless.

1/29/2010 6:44:38 PM

I planted winter wheat and rye in most of my raised beds. The others that had cool weather crops that I harvested through December, I covered with straw and pine shavings with chicken poop from my coop. I'll work those in next spring before planting. I took wonderful sustainable agriculture classes at a local community college that taught me so many wonderful things. I chose not to extend my crops through the winter when the first snow (December, unusual for Virginia) collapsed my hoop houses. I look forward to an abundant spring crop of wheat to try various things like sprouts and grain for bread. The chickens might even get some too.

1/29/2010 3:11:32 PM

Where to start, as I did so much. First, I applied 2 tons of composted poultry litter with hardwood sawdust. Then I added another ton of high cal lime, along with 200 pounds of trace minerals, along with sodium borate (20 Mule Team Borax) and some Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate). After cutting all this in, I sowed a cover crop of barley, crimson clover, rye grass, winter pea and winter wheat. The deer loved the cover crop, well MOST of them loved the cover crop. Two of them not so much. I also planted Romaine lettuce, cilantro, onions, cabbage, turnips, collards, mustard greens, arugula, spinach (deer like this WAY too much) and kept my mint, rosemary, parsley and celery alive and well all winter. I can hardly wait till it is time to plant for the spring. Hurry up global warming. :-)

1/29/2010 2:06:26 PM

Eliot Coleman's new Winter Harvest Handbook is full of ideas for 12-month gardening, from his experience in Maine and Vermont. Go thou and do likewise.

1/29/2010 1:23:50 PM

My family and I are going to winter over our garden by smothering it in manure (horse manure to be precise).It has been several years since we did this, so it is about time it be done again.As of now the weather channel is predicting 6-12 inches of snow here in Virginia so we may have to wait a while longer to do that.

1/29/2010 11:19:46 AM

We've had a colder winter than the last few winters here in Eastern Tenn. I decided to see if I could grow lettuce in a small hoop plastic house. I planted an heirloom lettuce called trout lettuce along with some arugula in Nov. I'm happy to say that both have survived single digit nights a cold snap that lasted 2 weeks the first couple of weeks in Jan. I had them covered with double plastic, plus on real cold nights spread a covering of leaves on top. I also have turnips growing in the open garden. The cold killed back the tops, but I have leaves mulched around the bottom and have been harvesting fresh turnips all winter. It's a great winter crop!

alan jones_1
1/29/2010 11:09:46 AM

Buckwheat is a wonderful thing. Also, as soon as the crops come out in the fall, we threw in some rye grass. All winter we add kitchen scraps that our chickens would graze on and "recycle" on the spot. In addition grab those grounds from Starbucks and spread them out. A 3 year crop rotation is essential. Clean out the coop- throw it on the garden. It has all winter to break down. When spring rolls around, we till it under and plant. By the way, I feel like the pied piper during tilling. I'll have 10 to 15 of the "girls" strung out behind me looking for good stuff to eat when I turn the dirt over. They have learned to come running when they hear the engine start!

charles berryhill_2
1/29/2010 10:03:15 AM

I gathered bags of leaves and completey covered the beds with bags of leaves hoping to keep the beds warmer thus the worms might stay closer to the surface and be more active during the winter and hopefully with the woarme temps from the insulation of the bagged leaves the bnlack bags would absorb heat from the sun and radiate that downward into the soil thus making all bacteria and microbes more active. The bagges will be removed in the spring and the leaves used as mulch and to make compost piles as I mow the lawn next year.

ed esch_2
1/28/2010 5:17:24 PM

Currently have a garden full of winter rye. During the season 20% is always in buckwheat, and any temporarily mpty beds also get buckwheat.

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