growing vegetables in cool weather

grandprix1(6)August 25, 2010

Any suggestions how to grow vegetables into the fall and winter in Pennsylvania? I have a summer garden that does fairly well, however, I would like to continue growing into December and early January. Our local state fair is in January and many people enter their vegetables into the state fair in January! How do they do it??? I would like to try entering some of my vegetables, but do not know how to keep them viable until January. Below is a list of some of the categories of vegetables that are in the state fair. If you have any recommendations on one or more and how I can grow these into January, I would welcome your help! Maybe people store them somehow for a month or two, but I'm not certain. I would like to enter our PA state fair this January with my vegetables! Thanks!

Carrots, Garlic, Beets, Parsnip, Radish, Rutabaga, Leeks, Onions, Turnips, Brussel Sprouts, Celery, Cabbage, Gourds, Pumpkins, Lettuce, Endive, Escarole, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Collards, Kale, Squash- acorn, butternut, dumpling, winter, etc., plus any other vegetables! Also- chestnuts.

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Hi there! Some of the veggies you're looking to grow prefer cool weather (like celery, cabbage, lettuce, and kale). Have you tried using a cold frame before? I've used these and they're a great way to keep your plants/veggies living even if its frosty outside. I live in Minnesota and I've been able to grow celery and lettuce (lettuce needs a little larger cold frame) for about a month after our frost date (they usually last until late November). I attached a link to a great site which can give a jump start with ideas :)
Also, with the cold frames, a heating line (similar to those you use in your gutters) can add a little extra heat.
Finally the best thing about these cold frames is that they can cost literally nothing to make! I used an old window and some wood I found when I moved into my house.
Hope it helps :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Cold Frame Setup

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 12:41AM
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All the veggies on the list can be held to Jan. with no problems. I recommend you go to the 4 Seasons Forum here on garden web.

and or buy the 2 books by eliot coleman on 4 season and winter growing.

You should go to the fair and talk to people.

You should try a few at a time not all of them the first time.

many books discuss the topic

you can google each veggie and look for info on how to do it.

Enjoy the hobby. I am still learning after 40 years of growing.

Here is a link that might be useful: books

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 2:53AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

You might also want to look at Eliot Coleman's books.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 6:31AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

i've pulled carrots out of the ground under a pile of snow..they were great. Summer carrots taste like cardboard.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 9:44AM
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You can plant your cool weather garden any time now. Well, as I recall from living in a hot-summer area, you may need to start a few things inside your nice air-conditioned house right now, but you should get the garden area ready as soon as possible. Start transplants now for kales, cabbages, brussels sprouts, spinach, lettuce, etc. The longer-maturing ones you can start a bunch of right away, they will hold in the garden once it cools down. For lettuce and spinach, start half a dozen this week, half a dozen next week, and so on until mid-September or so. Once you have them sprouted and up, put them outside in a sheltered place so you don't have to harden them off later. As soon as your garden is ready, start transplanting them in. They like rich soil, but stop fertilizing mid-September because as the sun heads south the plants don't grow as quickly and therefore don't use as much nitrogen. When the nights start getting cool you can cover with row cover, but support the row cover over the spinach rows as they don't like anything touching their leaves. Don't worry about light frosts, these are all cool-weather lovers. But do harvest your lettuce before any really hard freezes, it will be the least hardy, say by Thanksgiving or so.

Carrots, beets, and winter radishes should be planted in place, watered, and a row cover put right on the soil to keep them damp and prevent them from being washed away if you get rain. Actually any radishes can be planted, but the winter varieties get nice and big, and keep well in "root cellar" conditions. Again, plant some this week, some next week, etc. I plant the whole bed with carrots at the same time, as we like to let the last ones get really big. If you only like the small ones, plant some this week, some next week, and so on like the others. Parsnips have a fairly long time to maturity, so it may be too late to plant them this year.

Garlic is planted in the fall, but it is not harvested in the winter. You want a bed that can be devoted to garlic until next July, when it is harvested. It keeps well, though, so that is why you see it at the fair in the winter.

The winter squashes also are not grown in the fall and winter, but store well and were once a winter staple in the kitchen for that reason. I have butternut squash ripening in the garden right now that we will be having in soups and pies this winter. I don't grow these in the garden itself, as they ramble all over the place. I put them on the terrace at the bottom of my front yard, partly to keep the neighborhood kids off the wall there. ;-) Plant pumpkins and other squash in the spring a couple of weeks after any chance of frost in rich soil, keep watered, and stand back!

Just a point: having a 4-season harvest from the garden doesn't necessarily mean GARDENING all 4 seasons. For fall and winter harvesting you need your plants to be nearly full grown before the cold weather sets in and stops growth for the year. At that point you mulch thickly and cover with row covers and a low tunnel and just use the garden as your root cellar until things warm up a bit in the very early spring and you can start planting new starts of your cool-weather plants for the later spring eating season.

Here is a link that might be useful: A good book

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 2:48PM
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Wow! thanks for all of your wonderful responses. I am taking notes and will be reading up on some of your suggestions. Today I went into the garden and am preparing for the winter/coolweather planting attempt. Guess I will need to print out this page, as your responses are really helpful. Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 9:58PM
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