For The Answer
Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Saturday, October 25, 2008
“Vegetables All Winter”
Many gardeners think the cool weather vegetable garden is superior to the spring garden. It certainly can be productive. Now is the time to plant the vegetables to harvest through the winter and into early spring. Here are a few choices to consider. Some do well in containers if you have enough sun on your patio. All vegetables do best in full sun.
Broccoli has emerged as the most popular winter vegetable. Plant transplants now and you will be harvesting heads before Christmas and until February. Broccoli is a very nutritious vegetable and productive. Each plant produces one large head that will feed four and there are smaller heads as the season progresses. Plant broccoli with at least two feet between plants.
Cabbage loopers are the worst broccoli pest. Control them with Bt or Spinosad. Broccoli and all greens require heavy fertilization to produce at their full potential. Use a cup of slow release or winterizer lawn fertilizer per eight feet of row to prepare the soil and then side dress every three weeks with another cup.
Broccoli is not usually used as a container crop. The plants grow very large and top heavy. Grow broccoli in a raised bed.
Carrots are planted by seed. They are also very nutritious and productive. Spread the seed over a row and then thin the seedlings to three inches between plants. It is probably most efficient to prepare a row one foot wide and spread the seed on the surface of the raked soil. Do not cover the seed.
Water carrot seed into the soil with a wand applicator and keep the soil moist by watering every day until the seed germinates. Carrots do not require as much fertilizer as the foliage plants. Prepare the bed with one cup per eight foot row and side dress every six weeks with slow release lawn fertilizer.
Carrots do well in containers. The foliage is very attractive. Carrots can be harvested as you need them. They will last until late spring and they are not usually bothered with insects or diseases.
Leaf lettuce comes in many versions and colors. It is one of the best vegetables to grow in containers because it is small and very decorative.
The toughest thing about growing lettuce is to get it to germinate. The key to germination is that the seed must not be covered. It has to be exposed to light to sprout.
Prepare the soil just as you would for carrots and water in the same way. Lettuce will re-grow if you harvest it leaf by leaf and leave some leaves on each plant as the season progresses. Lettuce is very popular as a food, but it does not rate very high on the nutrition scale. Lettuce is mostly water.
In my opinion, English peas are the most difficult of the winter vegetables to grow. Our weather is often too hot or too cold to get good germination and/or harvest a crop.
If you want to avoid the need for a trellis, plant the bush varieties. One way to reduce the chances that your crop will be destroyed by a freeze is to plant the sugar snap selections. They are harvested as unfilled pods so do not require as much time on the plant.
Radishes are the fastest winter vegetables to produce a crop. The seeds germinate in three – five days and you can be harvesting the crisp roots in three weeks. Gardeners that like to have fresh radishes on their table all winter will plant a row in four weeks.
Although radishes are usually not children’s favorite vegetable, they are often planted by families introducing children to gardening because of the fast growth.
vegetables that are worth growing are beets, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce,
spinach, onions, turnips, rutabagas, mustard, kale, collards, garlic, chard,