Winter gardening

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Lettuce in winter garden
Certain varieties of greens are perfect for winter gardening.
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Harvesting your vegetables during the winter can lengthen your growing season

It's winter! Time to gather your planting gear and hit the garden. OK, maybe not exactly. Winter gardening is less about actual planting and more about harvesting your vegetables during the winter months.

It is essential to plan your winter garden in the spring. Once your spring crops end their cycle in the summer, you will have plenty of room to plant your fall and winter crops.

You should plant your winter garden vegetables during the summer to give them plenty of time to take root before the winter season. This will protect the plants once the first frost hits. If successful, your vegetables will harvest in winter and early spring.
A key benefit to winter gardening is it's not necessary to water as often given there is plenty of rainfall during the winter months. In fact, it's sometimes a good idea to cover your garden so it doesn't receive too much water, depending on the rainy season where you live.

What can you harvest in the winter?

Do not try to grow vegetables like tomatoes or squash, as these are typical warm-weather crops.

Hearty vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are perfect for winter gardening. Put these plants in the ground in September to harvest in winter or early spring. Onions also are suitable for winter gardening, specifically garlic, leeks and green onions.

Greens are another variety that will grow during the winter months.

Lettuce, spinach, chard and collards can be planted as late as October for winter or early spring.

Additionally, carrots and beets can withstand the winter months. Plant them in the late summer months for harvesting in the fall and winter.

What about herbs?

Parsley and cilantro can be planted in late summer for use in the winter months. Also, if you experience milder winters, you should have no problems with your herbs like thyme, rosemary and sage.

Winter gardening tips

Keep in mind that it is important to cover most of the plants during the winter months to avoid excessive rainfall and frost.

It's important to know when the first frost is expected in your region. Get your winter plants in the ground well before then so they have ample time to fully mature.

Make sure to mulch. Not only does mulching keep your winter garden insulated and resists against soil erosion, it also keeps pesky weeds at bay. (Common materials for winter mulching include peat moss, sawdust, shredded newspapers and bark.)

Don't plant your winter onions in the same spot as your summer onions. It's a general rule of thumb not to plant the same crop in the same location from season to season. Doing this will strip the soil of the same nutrients over and over and invite the same pesky insects.

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