Still harvesting fresh heirloom leaf lettuce in Minnesota on November 06! Still plenty more in the garden, not protected in any way. The high today was 42 degrees. Cold hardy stuff.
They look great, but might need some thinning.
Umm...I was holding this harvested bunch in my hand for the photo.
Made a wonderful fresh salad for dinner. :)
About the same deal here. Yesterday I moved some plants into the solar greenhouse. Now we probably won't have frost for ten days......
Stay right there with the Lettuce in your hand. I'm going to come thin some for you.
Photos can often be hard to interpret - what may seem obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to others. I could have taken a better photo.
Still have a bunch of lettuce in the garden, am saving most of it for fresh salad for my guests for the Thanksgiving holiday. I will probably have to protect the row because I doubt it will survive unprotected till late November.
Minnesota is the coldest place I have lived in my life. You must have a special hardy variety of lettuce. I recall how tough and cold my fellow Minnesotans were in the middle of winter. The radio DJ announced a January day's weather as being warm and everyone walked with unzipped coats in downtown Minneapolis.
I am still picking lettuce and radishes as we speak, all unprotected. But i am going to Home Depot this weekend and try to make a mini hoophouse over the bed this weekend. But my lettuce doesnt look nearly as nice as yours. Grats
chervil2 - Thanks for your post.
Indeed, the winter weather can get a bit harsh here in Minnesota. If you do not embrace it, it will beat you down. On those "special" nights when it hits 20-25 degrees below zero I make a point to go outside, walk around, and take in the weather. I find it interesting that air can get so frigid that it actually hurts to breathe it in. I make a point to remember those experiences when I feel like whining about the heat and humidity of an uncomfortable summer day in July or August. Usually shuts me up.
I also love going outside in the dark of night when we are experiencing blizzard conditions and all the highways are shut down. I cover every inch, no exposed skin whatsoever and put on ski goggles so my eyelids do not freeze shut, and then I walk out into the storm approximately a half mile to a mile from home in the middle of nowhere, with no flashlight (which does not help in a blizzard anyway). I then close my eyes and spin around until I am disoriented. Then the challenge for me is finding my way back home. It is all up to me - I can panic and freak out or I can exercise self control and discipline. One way I am likely to die, one way I probably live. It is refreshing in its simplicity, although it turns out it is not really all that difficult to survive if you keep your wits about you (and pay attention to wind direction). Quite the experience, although as I get older I find it takes more and more courage to take the risk. But what else is a gardener supposed to do during the long winter months? Seriously, don't try this at home.
In Minnesota any day above freezing in January or February is a good day. I would happily take temperatures in the twenties all winter if given the choice, but that simply is not the way it works. Putting up with winter is the price we pay for our nice summers. Truth be told, the only two reasons I stay in Minnesota is the soil is good and all of my family relations still reside within reasonable driving distance. Why go anywhere else if you have those two things? To me everything else in life is just noise.
The lettuce varieties are my own mix of heirloom varieties. I have been growing them for many years and saving and replanting the seed of the best plants. As a result they have acclimated to my local growing conditions. Most leaf lettuces are hardy plants in general, though.
We did have fresh lettuce salad for the Thanksgiving meal. That officially ended the 2012 harvest for me. I was able to harvest various food plants from the second week of April to November 22. Not a bad run for such northern latitudes.
Beautiful! Glad to see people in northern areas still harvesting something.
I had broccoli from my garden on Thanksgiving, but I'd picked it the week before, when I pulled the plants.
I was wondering when you planted that lettuce seed. I planted some here at the beginning of September,(it's recommended that we plant up til about August 1st or 15th or something like that, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway), and it sprouted very quickly in the warm September weather, but bugs got a lot of it, and then when the weather cooled off, the growth slowed down a lot. Also it's in a space that gets maybe 4 hours sun/day when the tree next to it is in full leaf. Probably gets more when the leaves are gone, but I haven't timed it.
We are having weird warm weather here, but the lettuce (and the spinach too that I planted next to it) is growing very slowly. Not sure if I am going to do a low hoop house for it or not bother. Not too much left after the buggies got to it.
I planted mine mid-september, sprouted rather quickly and no bugs, even the darn groundhogs have left it alone.
Mine is planted in a shady spot. It's taking forever to get big enough to eat!
I'm from Florida, we still have green beans and tomatoes growing :)
I planted leaf lettuce, spinach, and radishes around Labor Day weekend. Sorry, don't remember the exact date. Much of the lettuce and spinach did not germinate until rains came in mid October.
Next year for my first time I will be experimenting with low tunnels to extend the season. Should be fun. Would love to have fresh lettuce for Christmas dinner but I admit that is a serious stretch. But what is life without goals?
I'm getting ready to plant some lettuce this week, in western PA..call me nuts, thats ok maybe I am, however, my soil is great, my covers on this cold frame will hopefully hold the heat in, I still have romaine in my garden, swiss chard in buckets still growing, I planted these in Aug.
My goals are to have garden veggies growing, flourishing year round..
Japus, good luck!
I sowed winter lettuce seeds this year around the beginning of October (4 varieties which are supposedly winter-hardy like Winter Density, Arctic King, Parella Green & Valdor) .
When the freezing weather came, I covered them with the cold frame. We already had pretty hard frosts but the lettuce seems fine, just yesterday I picked a nice bowl of fresh greens for salad. Also, few other greens growing outside survived so far: like mustard greens, arugula and some red lettuce (I guess, they were covered by snow and thus survived).
I checked the ground yesterday and it is not yet frozen solid. Si, I guess as long as the soil is not frozen, lettuce will be fine. I am waiting to see what will happen to my winter lettuce when the ground freezes solid.
As a lesson for me for the future: I wish, I planted the winter lettuce a few weeks earlier: maybe, at the end of September. In cold weather, it is growing slowly and it didnÃ¯Â¿Â½t reach its full maturity by the time the freezing temps came. If I planted it earlier, taking advantage of the relatively nice weather, I would have had much more mature plants with many more leaves to harvest now.
green go, that's a beautiful bowl of lettuce. Thanks for posting the varieties you are growing.
It looks like Eliot Coleman doesn't get lettuce past November. I have a couple of heads that are partially frozen, I might get some good interior leaves but I'm leaving until I finish the bag that's in the fridge.
Spinach and beets planted in mid-Sept look beautiful. I picked a large bowl of spinach on Sat from inside our high tunnel. The plants are covered with Agribon as well. Outside the garden spinach was covered by a little snow so I went for the easy picks inside the tunnel. The spinach leaves were slightly frozen but defrosted nicely in a sink of cold water.
We're in a dormant period now of shorter days until March. According to the Eliot Coleman books, I don't expect much growth until then. I have some seedling spinach and beets I planted in late October that are just sitting there. Hopefully they will spring to life in Feb or March.
Gorgeous lettuce, you guys. Thanks for the pics.
And Tom, I love your getting lost in the snow adventures. I do something a bit similar each year -- go up into the high country on cross country skis, go well beyond the trails and purposely get lost in the back country, then use sun direction and what I know about the slope of the mountains to get back down before pitch dark. I was talking with a friend last year about the fact that there are mountain lions here now, and he said "don't worry about skiing, just don't go alone and don't be out at dusk," and I said "I'm always alone, and I'm always out at dusk!" Guess I'll have to bring bells or something this year :)
I recall the rime ice on trees on winter mornings in the Minnesota to be very beautiful. I am sad that my lettuce crop is over and I am buying Romaine lettuce at the supermarket. I am still eating salads with arugula and chickweed from my garden. Also, I am looking forward to trying out my new cross-country skis on fresh fallen snow on a sunny winter day.
Thanks to all for the posts, they have been enjoyable reads. It is interesting to read about other's cold weather growing experiences and strategies. The photos are great.
Still no snow here, but a couple of inches are finally in the forecast for Friday. Time for me to finally conclude the outdoor projects.
You don't want your greens to get too big in the winter, they aren't as hardy when they get older.
We grow year around without any heat in our high tunnels. In fact, I just get the last of our transplants in last Sunday (about 2 weeks late) but hey it was over 70 degrees here in North Central Kansas!
We just put this kale, Chard, mustard, bok choy, napa cabbage and Tokyo Bekena in 2 weeks ago. With the added heat, it is growing nice.
Here is our largest tunnel on October 26th
Winter growing is fun and rewarding! Nothing like tromping through the snow to go out and pick your lunch. Well that is if we ever got any moisture!
No winter growing this far north without heat, so tomorrow I harvest spinach and prep.the beds for February winter sowing. I will mix in about 1/3 gallons of gently aged rabbit poo to the square foot. Digging it into the top 6-8 inches. You know I really enjoy the high tunnel, I wounder why people don't use them more?
jrslick - Jay, your pictures are amazing. Wish I could have that kind of success at this time of year up here. 70 degrees? That kind of temperature was a long time ago up here.
curt_grow - Curt, I would love to grow throughout the winter but I just can not see the justification regarding heating costs. But the way I see it is not just heat, it is sunlight. Even Jay gets more sunlight hours per day than we do, and I do not see how we could get any kind of quality crop at this time of year with such reduced solar output (relative to the earth's axis of course). Adding lights just adds to the cost and makes it even more unjustifiable IMHO. I want a home-grown tomato right now, but I am not willing to pay $10 for it. ;)
It isn't about growing a crop this time of year, it is about harvesting. You plant the crop early enough in the fall to get them to about 60-70% grown and then they do slow down, but you can still harvest them.
Where in SW Minnesota do you live?
I know there are people in your area, latitude, that grow this time of year and are successful. Tomatoes, no, salad greens, root vegetables yes.
jr; I am about 30 miles north of the Iowa line. We are expecting 5F on Friday . I don't think row covers etc. are worth the trouble. I only have 40 square foot of beds and a few containers so preparing the beds is priority one. I like to sow the whole house before the frost goes out of the ground. It gives a great head-start in spring. Besides I grow in the house under lights all winter. I grow fresh greens only, to keep the cost down. Fresh lettuce anyone :).
Soilent; Ya Heat and lights would get out of hand It might help if the sun would shine more in the winter. During the cloudy spells we have in the fall it seems to take forever for plant growth.
Here at about L41 winter growth is very, very slow but it does happen. About three weeks each side of the solstice it is almost nothing, but from the time I moved lettuce plants into my winter bunker three weeks ago there has been noticeable growth.
Jay, Curt, pnbrown - yeah I knew I was exagerrating a bit with the 'maters comment. I do agree I could extend the harvest a bit further with artificial means, which I actually intend on doing starting next season. I make the cut-off when it starts involving heating and/or lighting costs. I have used cold frames with decent success and next fall I intend on using low tunnels. I do think that Minnesota is much different than even Kansas regarding late fall growing conditions, as I think Curt would attest (he has much more experience with extending the season than I do).
I absolutely appreciate the comments, though, because this topic has been a curiosity of mine and it is nice to hear of other people's experiences. I hope to learn and benefit from what I have been reading, so thanks much to all.
The thing that is amazing to me is looking at the sun angle in the sky at this time of year in Minnesota. It is so incredibly low in the sky, even at peak. Don't know how much value the solar output is at this point. So my question is, when does a person give up and call it quits till springtime?
BTW I harvested fresh spinach today. Unprotected. Everything else is done. Can't believe I still have something to pick. Fresh spinach salad for dinner, tasted great. We are again having another unusually mild winter so far, and we are in extreme drought conditions. I am already concerned about next growing season. What I am seeing is not good.
I am amazed at the hardiness of spinach. However, the plants do not appear to grow very much. Instead, they stay the same size and vibrant green. I think that the leaves become thicker, too.
Chervil, I think you're right. The leaves seem thicker to me, too. There was snow on my spinach last weekend so I picked spinach in our cold house (high tunnel). It was slightly frozen but defrosted nicely in a sink of cold water.
Since this is our first winter with a cold house (single layer plastic in NH), I still have a lot to learn. I got seed but didn't plant the recommend claytonia and mache. Waiting now until mid-February. It can be 20 at night but on a sunny day it gets up to 80 or so depending on the amount of sun and clouds. I have Agribon fabric over the vegetable beds inside the cold house for some added protection so this is more protection than they would get in a low tunnel. We'll see how easy it is to harvest and plant once there's snow on the ground.
Here in Kansas, I have never had the soil freeze inside the high tunnel in the winter.
One of my favorite pics.
The white stuff is a snow drift, I got my tiller stuck in it when I was prepping the soil to plant carrots last February.
You can see through the door the freshly tilled soil all ready for carrots seeding.
Tom -- answer to your question : NEVER!
I have had spinach and mache last through conditions of well below zero (F) at night, and high of about 2 degrees during the day. Those two crops last through it all, under cover or not.
So I'd say. let the spinach sit where it is, and you may or may not get a few winter salads (clip it when it is quarter sized, and it will make new leaves -- don't try to wait for the leaves to get big, because they won't.) Then come March it will start to grow, and come April you'll get leaves the size of your hand that are tender and sweet . . . well worth having let them sit all winter. This timing is a guess for you -- I know I've got more light than you do during the darkest months, but in the spring we're probably about equal.
Mine are covered with just a few hoops and one layer of Agricultural fleece, but the stuff that ends up uncovered does well too (it's usually coverered with snow, and that does the job.) So you don't really need to do anything with that there spinach except don't dig it up. See what happens.
One more point about winter harvesting: Clip and run to the house. As soon as stuff is clipped, it will freeze faster, so don't stop to admire your snowy compost pile, or dinner may be ruined.
Jay, as always, your gardens are gorgeous!
I finally got to harvest our first salads yesterday and today! A mix of all types of greens. I must say I really love the Dragon Stir Fry Mix as a baby green, mixed with Rocky top mix from Baker Creek, along with mixed baby chard and beet lie aves. Yummy!
Included a few mild peppers, which are still producing.
Now that it's cooler, I can finally plant some lettuce/greens in a sunnier spot and get quicker growth. My fall lettuce needs to be shady or it won't germinate and just burns up, but then it takes forever to grow.
I think that phenomenon of spinach and chard leaves getting extremely and strangely thick during the winter is very good. That happened greatly to my chard in my winter glassed bunker and when I tested it for brix it was the highest reading for chard I ever saw and "off the chart", literally.
As I posited here on this forum a while back I believe that chard/spinach/beet etc interacts very easily with soil fungi, and soil that sits undisturbed for long periods of time in greenhouses, generally has plenty of OM and minerals and doesn't get too much or too little moisture tends to build up high levels of microbes. The chard family seems to take much better advantage of this situation than does brassica, which as we know does not have relationships with fungi, so brassica plants get sick in the low-light conditions without cold to protect them from bugs. Lettuce also seems to do very well in those conditions and also develops the very thick leaves.
OT but we are currently in blizzard conditions with approximately 14 inches of snow so far. Highway snow gates are down, no travel in several counties around me, plow trucks have been pulled off the rural roads and highways. Temperature is dropping fast. I am entirely blocked off from civilization and I LOVE it. It has been two years since we have had a system come through with this intensity, and it is rather exciting to see once again.
I plan on going on a walkabout around midnight. This much snow might mean I will have to use my snowshoes. Will see. If I never post again on GW, you folks will know what happened to me. But no worries, if nothing else someone will find me come springtime, probably with a frozen smile on my face, an empty candy bar wrapper in my hand, and an empty "medicine" flask in my pocket. ;)
Time for me to push the envelope, to see if I still have what it takes. Life has been getting too comfortable, not taking chances and all. Wish me luck.
Good Luck Tom!
While you are talking about snow (we are hoping and praying for any type of moisture), I am picking and prepping carrots for orders. We are supplying carrots for a fundraiser for our girls dance class. I guess they can get me pulled in too.
These are 5 pound bags, 5 down a few more to go (just in case)!
Great idea for a fund raiser!
Good luck, Tom.
Sounds like fun, Tom. Blizzard on the prarie....
Tom? Are you back yet?
Like my neighbor Tom there, I was still harvesting until the snow on the weekend.
We ate this on Saturday (made into a chicken sausage/greens frittata).
Now I am busy canning since the snow put an end to my gardening season.
Aloha Howdy: Reading all this from up North I am so happy for you'all. I was gonna harvest the last of my crowns on Broccoli today and some Brussels Sprouts to go with my garden salad mix, alas, its raining, so reduced to eating the lettuce and spinach from the crisper. Its so very wonderful to have in the middle of Winter. (Is it not?) Has anyone tried the Miners Lettuce? Winter type of Succulent Purslane that does really well throughout the Winter here. As well as taste good and good for you. Reading the above words, the tone isn't what I had hoped for. I want a........ Damn its good to be alive and sharing the wonders of this world with fellow partners in grime kinda tone. Not a look what I got thing. Either way I like the lettuce and spinach etc. Mine too is being grown outside, no hoops or tunnels.....global warming may have a few perks? Just wanted to say hi....Maybe even throw in a politically incorrect MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all.
Yes! Claytonia/miner's lettuce is wonderful -- and leave it to flower and it self seeds all over the place.
Thanks for your cheery post -- Merry Christmas back at you. :)