Preparing Vegetable Garden For Winter – Beginners Tips
Winter may not be the right season for growing many plants, but there are certain vegetables that grow best during the season of winter. With just a simple addition of clear coverings you can make a good harvest of vegetables in the winter season. Some of the best varieties of vegetables that grow well in cold weather are kale, broccoli, turnips, cabbage, radish, carrots, lettuce and snow peas.
Before beginning with your winter vegetable garden on roof or in a greenhouse, it is first important for you to know the frost date and the time taken for your vegetables to mature. You must have taken good care of your garden during the season of autumn as it makes it easier for you to maintain your garden during the winter.
Choose vegetables carefully keeping in mind that they need to survive extremely low temperatures. The major vegetables that can make up your winter vegetable garden are broccoli, leeks, kale and Brussels sprouts. All these vegetables are highly nutritious and provide a complete appetizing and nourishing meal.
Table Of Contents
- Factors that play an important role in the maintenance of a vegetable garden:
- List of vegetables and their best growing conditions
Factors that play an important role in the maintenance of a vegetable garden:
During the winter season there is an excess of water that gets into the cells of the plants and results in their death. So care must be taken that you do not over water your vegetable plants or it is better that you don't water them at all. As the rate of evaporation is low, the plants can survive without water for weeks.
Coverings are generally used for retaining natural heat from the soil and trap the heat of the sun. They act as a greenhouse into a greenhouse. This gives the plant the necessary heat needed for its growth.
Harvesting at the day time
As the plants are able to recover from the freezing temperatures of the night during the day time it is better to harvest the vegetables during the day time and there is less chance for you to have mush on your hands.
Maintaining your winter vegetable garden
It is best to start growing the vegetables in the spring and then know the conditions in which the different vegetables grow best. The main objective of maintaining your winter vegetable garden is to protect the plants from the freezing temperatures. For this purpose, cold frames are used.
Using cold frames for the protection of your plants in winter
A cold frame is a low structure which has a roof that is transparent and inclined at a certain angle. The principle of the cold frame is that is traps the heat of the sun during the day and holds it in for the plants during the darker hours. Cold frames work best when placed directly under the sun against the walls of your house or any shed. Make arrangements so that it does not get affected by the heavy winds that blow during winter.
Setting up a cold frame
The size of the frame can be large or small depending upon the area of your vegetable garden. You can build a cold frame using materials like wood, bricks or concrete blocks. The roof is always made of glass and the sashes of old windows are generally used. To cut the costs on glass roofing, there are also cheap options of using fiber glass, acrylic plastic or clear plastic sheeting.
After the structure is built, the floor of the cold frame must be filled with three to four inches of sand. This helps in sorting out the problem of drainage. The vegetable pots or containers are now to be kept directly on the sand. You can also plant the seeds directly on the ground after adding a three inch layer of potting mix. These cold frames can also be built while you have a winter vegetable on roof.
A hot bed is the name given to a cold frame with an electric heating cable buried under the ground or the sand. This is helpful for the quick germination of seeds.
For layout check this article: Vegetable Garden Layout Ideas For Beginners
List of vegetables and their best growing conditions
Carrots - they are hardy and cool season biennials. You need to plant them such that there are no more than two seeds per inch. The germination takes two weeks and more than sixty days to mature.
Lettuce - they are best planted in the spring or in the later months of summer and in an area where there is enough shade. They can later be transplanted when there are low temperatures. It is best to plant them half an inch deep in the soil and twelve inches apart.
Beetroots - they are fairly frost hardy. The planting of seeds must be successive at intervals of three to four week and must be planted one to three inches apart. It requires about 60 days for maturing.
Turnips - turnips belong to the same family as the cabbage and radish. They largely grow in Siberia, which is one of the coldest countries of the world. They can be planted either during the spring or during the late summer and matures in more than sixty days.
Winter Onions - they are perennials and the winter varieties like the walking onion or the Egyptian onion are best grown in winter. The sets for planting are taken from the top of the plants and are planted one inch deep with the space between each set up to four inches.
Cole crops like broccoli, collards and cabbage are frost hardy and have the capacity of tolerating colder weather compared to other cole crops like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and require sixty to seventy five days for harvesting.
All the above vegetables can be maintained as winter vegetable garden in greenhouses as it is considered one of the best ways of having a vegetable garden during the winter.