The cold winter months can actually lend to a versatile growing season for many hearty plants.
A winter garden does not require too much space and many herbs and vegetables can also be grown in containers. However, many cold weather plants need to be rooted in the ground in order to flourish.
Plants will need to be well covered under a protective barrier, such as cold frames or row covers, in the winter months. An encasing helps to shield delicate leaves from frosting and traps in heat.
A good multipurpose herb to have around is wintergreen. Its oil, which also has medicinal properties, can be used as a natural flavoring in desserts, drinks and it makes a fragrant garnish. This plant grows like a shrub and is green all year. It can spread easily, so be sure to keep it from taking over other plants. It will have to be completely protected in cold weather for the first several years that it is planted as the cold can zap the sapling’s growth. Once matured, wintergreen does not need much upkeep other than consistent watering.
Spinach can also be successfully grown in cold weather, and many consider it as one of the easier varieties of greens to grow and harvest year round. Sowing seeds early in the spring and having plantings throughout the spring and summer, but saving the fall season for the largest crop, are what many gardeners suggest. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and is a nutrient rich food.
Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage that is versatile to cook with and can be used in many dishes. It can withstand freezing temperatures and is usually harvested early. Mulching in the fall and providing enough moisture can help increase the yield.
Known for their rich color and slightly spicy taste, turnip greens can add a bit of a kick to dishes and can be mixed with other greens.
Collard greens are normally harvested in the fall and winter, but if sown early can be gathered in the summer months. Collards can tolerate the heat more than other types of cabbages and greens. These greens require cooking before consuming. Many also say that collard greens have a distinctly better flavor after the weather turns cold as the frost gives the leaves a sweeter taste.
Broccoli is a quick growing vegetable with a nearly year round growing span. It prefers to be in a sunny location, and must be protected from the wind.
Growing winter greens allows fresh produce full of vitamins and minerals all year long, and their vibrant green appearance is a welcome sight during dreary, cold days.
Heirloom Organics has a variety of information about growing organic vegetables, herbs and more.
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