Veggie Gardening

Published on September 24th, 2014 | by Backyards Made Better


Overwintering Crops For Spring Harvest

The easiest, quickest and cheapest overwintering technique is to use a mulch of straw or shredded leaves. This requires a slightly earlier planting date than with the mini hoop tunnel approach, as mulched plants will come through the winter better if they are at least semi-mature. Therefore, sow seed four to six weeks before the average first frost date and when the temperature hovers near freezing on a regular basis, mulch the young plants with about a foot (30 cm) of organic materials. Cover with a row cover or bed sheet to keep the leaves and straw from blowing away and say good night until March.

Bonus tip: I have also had decent success with a similar mulching technique that involves overwintering the plants under a layer of evergreen boughs (spruce or pine, for example) and removing the boughs in early to mid-March.

My favourite way to overwinter greens is with a mini hoop tunnel.

I use these handy and quick-to-build structures in early spring to get a jump start on the garden, in mid-summer to shelter greens from the hot summer sun (using a length of shadecloth as the cover), and in winter to create a microclimate around tall crops like kale, leeks and collards.

But they are also ideal for overwintering as they allow plenty of light to reach the crops, which jump-starts growth as the day length increases in February.

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