Dig It! Winter Greens
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
October 4, 2009
For those of us who have severe mood swings this time of year because one day we are enthralled by the beauty of the fall colors and the next day we are sad because the bright colors of summer flowers are gone, here's a possible solution - winter gardening. Why not continue growing greens in your garden and on your windowsill this winter? They will tolerate very cold temperatures and reward you with green, growing healthy foliage to be eaten cooked or raw in salads.
You can sow greens in the fall for winter harvest, however it is a little late for that now (another project for next year!). You’ll get the best production by planting each type of green separately, but it is possible to mix them all together.
If you want to keep your greens growing in the ground outside, use your ingenuity and devise ways to protect them from the cold and snow, plus make it easy for you to harvest during the winter. Until we have significant snow fall that will envelop the plants, simple covers of any material will work. This will give you time to place hay bales, saw horses, hoops, wire, rebar or metal conduit around the plants so you can put old windows or clear plastic over the plants later. Plants usually won’t overheat under fabric row covers, but you’ll need to ventilate plastic covers on sunny days when temperatures are above freezing. They will need to be closed again in the early evening. This project will also provide you with additional winter exercise, since you will need to keep a path shoveled into the garden so you can harvest your winter greens.
If you don't have any greens in your garden this year and want to plant winter hardy greens next year, now you have a winter project - read each of the many seed catalogs that come during the winter to find the best varieties of winter hardy greens for our area. There are hardy and semihardy greens adapted to each season, including kale, collards, spinach, Swiss chard lettuces, salad brassicas (such as tatsoi and rape), arugula, giant red mustard, mâche or corn salad, claytonia or miners lettuce, and radicchios. Here is a start on hardy varieties: kale (Winterbor hybrid); spinach (Space and Hector); lettuces (Tango and Brune d’Hiver); and mâche (Piedmont). All greens are good for you, but consider growing greens that are especially nutritious. For instance, spinach, mustard and collards are especially high in folate; kale, spinach and mâche are good sources of iron; and Swiss chard, chicory, kale, spinach, mustard, collards and beet greens all rank off the charts for Vitamins A, C and K.
For more gardening tips and to share gardening ideas, come to the next Sage and Snow Garden Club meeting on October 20 in the Cooperative Extension Service Office at 621 South Pine, Pinedale. Come for social time at 5 pm and the business meeting at 5:30.
Contact the Garden Club at Box 2280, Pinedale, WY, 82941, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 307-859-8606.