The Fall and Winter Vegetables
When it comes to vegetable and flower gardening, the northwest areas such as Washington, Oregon, northwestern California and the province of British Columbia, are all quite suitable for fall and winter gardening. With temperatures ranging from 35°F to 45°F, an occasional continental arctic air outbreak can bring the temperature down to 0°F to 20°F. At this temperature the soil can freeze below ground anywhere from 3 or 4 inches for short periods, but if your plants have been carefully mulched, the damage is not that severe.
While many of the of the areas in the southern portion of the united states are actually more suited to winter crops, some northern regions have to utilize either cold frames hotbeds or greenhouses.
The most important thing to winter gardening is knowing when the first killing frost will arrive in your particular region. For instance, in the Pacific Northwest, then we're talking late October. In this case you would plant your crops early enough to have them reach full maturity before that killing frost arrives. If you check with any of your local garden stores or nurseries, they'll be able to give you the information you will need to insure a hardy crop of your delicious veggies.
Some of the crops that mature later (those requiring a potentially 90 days to maturity) should be planted no later than mid-July if you’re looking for a fall harvest. Some of these are:
Some others include:
Some of the mid-season crops that will mature in approximately 60 days, should be planted no later than mid-August. They are:
Some other veggies, herbs and perennial flowers:
You should really start somewhere in late October to early November to start preparing your vegetable garden for cold winter weather. Mulching has many purposes in the winter garden. Aside from insulating the plants with some protection over the root system, it will also help keep the weeds and unwanted grasses at bay. Mulch also keeps the evaporation of moisture from the soil during dry periods to a minimum as well as keeping the soil intact and stable during any rainstorms.
When you’re ready to start your mulching, you should consider some good materials such as: peat moss, bark, sawdust, or even shredded newspapers. Since sawdust and bark can leach nitrogen from the soil, you will probably want to replenish this nitrogen before replanting by laying down 1 to 2 inches of mulch material. This is the best way to protect your winter crops such as beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips and the like.
Occasionally, dig down through the mulching material and check to see that the soil has sufficient moisture. Plants that are in dry soil will not survive the winter as well as plants that are in moist soil.
When Spring arrives, and the sunlight warms the soil, a layer of mulch will prevent the soil from warming. If you either remove or mix the mulch up, this will allow the sun to reach the soil and warm it up as soon as possible. Also, seeds can be planted much earlier in unmulched soil.