A Winter Vegetable Garden to Keep the Goodies Coming

You might think of a winter vegetable garden as only appropriate for those folks in the sun belt. But here at New Terra Farm (near Ottawa, 45-degrees latitude, zone 5A) we still have goodies growing as of November 1.

Right now we have turnips, carrots, mesclun, arugula, spinach, and several other kinds of greens still growing, despite several frosts. We picked the last of the broccoli and cabbage yesterday.

Tilling in the winter vegetable garden April 15, 2018 at New Terra Farm

The other end of the season can be challenging too, as you can see in my greenhouse picture above. The pic is my greenhouse on rails, inspire by Eliot Coleman of Four Season Farm fame.

It's sitting in about 2 feet of snow, brought on by a late-spring storm.

Turnips in the winter vegetable gardenTurnips under row cover in the outdoor garden

There are a number of practical things you can do to make your winter vegetable garden a reality, even in a cold climate.

Appropriate crop selection, season extension, and food storage (to extend the eating season beyond the growing season.

For example, I don't try to grow tomatoes in my winter vegetable garden. I grow them in season and can what I need for sauces and salsas for the year.

I CAN grow carrots, onions, many greens, and broccoli and  cabbage well into winter, in my unheated greenhouse.

I grow Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes, and store them all year for eating and replanting.

These are the two crops that provide the most calories for the space, and are also easy to store and replant.

Jars of preserves, and onions, potatoes, garlic and carrots in my cold room

Winter vegetable garden - more

If you have seen the New Terra Farm website, you know I’ve written in some detail about the perilous nature of our food supply.

We are very dependent on long supply chains for our daily bread. At the same time, farms are disappearing, and farmers are getting older. How do we keep those calories coming?

I think we need more growers, both market growers and talented amateurs. It might seem obvious, but if you can squeeze another month of growing out of each end of your season, you can not only feed yourself, but possibly you can extend your income as well.

That's one of the reasons I keep this 200+ page website of free content going, by the way.

It's also why I recently slashed the price of all my books; I want to encourage new growers, because there will again come a time when communities will depend on them for the bulk of their calories.

This is our latest experiment, a small hoop house built from cattle panels

Anyone with a little plot of land, or a big back yard, can experiment with extending the growing and eating season.

Just about anyone could build and find a spot for my little Cattle Panel Palace like in the picture above. It only measures 8'x12'.

I think it's a good idea to learn how to grow food like you have to, before you have to!

More like Winter Vegetable Garden


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