Category Archives: Vegetable Gardening

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All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Insect Issues

The delicate, edible leaves of leafy green vegetables, as one might imagine, are particularly susceptible to damage from insects. Keep an eye out for these common pests. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Common Leafy Green Diseases

Disease is a particularly important consideration when growing leafy greens because – as their name indicates – the delicate leaves are the part of the vegetable you’ll most likely want to eat.

Keep an eye out for any of these common diseases affecting your leafy green crop. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Kale Types and How To Grow Them

If there can be a “hipster” vegetable of the moment, kale is certainly it these days. It’s hard to look over a menu in any upscale restaurant these days without seeing kale appearing as a side dish or “bed” for a couple of entrees. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Planting, Harvesting and Storing Leafy Greens

Planting leafy greens is exceptionally easy and for many variety results in both an ongoing harvest, as well as the opportunity for a second planting. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Types of Leafy Greens for Your Garden

“Leafy greens” is in fact a pretty generic term for a wide variety of vegetables. Depending on how you’re planning to grow, store and cook them, here are a number of factors about each to consider. Continue reading

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How To: Time Out Your Leafy Green Harvest

Planting leafy greens is exceptionally easy and for many variety results in both an ongoing harvest, as well as the opportunity for a second harvest in the same season. Some of the hardier varieties can be effectively overwintered, as well. Continue reading

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All About Leafy Greens: Growing Leafy Greens in Your Hardiness Zone

Though leafy greens might seem too fragile for cooler temperatures, fall is in fact the best time to plant them in most United States hardiness zones as many varieties prefer cooler weather. Continue reading

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All About Overwintering: What is it and why do we do it?

Overwintering is defined as the process by which you keep plants alive through a season in which they’d otherwise die whether it is due to weather or geographical placement. Why overwinter? Gardeners like to overwinter annuals to keep them growing and flowering season after season, but organic food movements are encouraging overwintering fruits and vegetable plants, too.

There are many benefits to using overwintering techniques. Overwintering vegetable plants causes them to develop earlier in the spring and offer a harvest well before the plants typically would. Plants like spinach, onions, and beans overwinter well and offer a delightful first taste of gardening season come March.

Fruit plants like blueberries, lemons, and fig trees overwinter well indoors and provide year-round fresh fruit at a low cost. Citrus trees like meyer lemons can be grown in a pot indoors in the winter and placed outdoors in full sun in the summer. Gardeners always benefit from having a touch of summer indoors during cooler months.

Bringing flowering and green plants indoors to overwinter increases the oxygen and humidity in your home. Pops of color, growing life during months of dormancy, and fresh smells are all added benefits to your home when you choose to overwinter.

If you’re a new gardener, the easiest way to get started is with potted plants. Explore steps to begin by checking out the Avant Garden guide to overwintering.

Overwintering Spinach

All About Overwintering: Spinach

Spinach is a pretty cold-tolerant plant and is perfect for overwintering. When overwintering spinach choose varieties like Giant Winter, Tyee, and Viroflay that handle low temperatures and are more resistant to harsher conditions. Start these seeds about six weeks before the average first frost so that you can use plants about three to four inches wide in size. Use soil that is cooler when starting these seeds to avoid spotty germination caused by dry, warm, late summer soil.

When you choose where you will place your polytunnel or burlap shields, sow the young spinach plants about 1 inch apart. After two frosts you can cover the spinach beds with a combination of compost and straw and then lay the outer layer protective structure. If you live in a more mild winter climate you can forgo the protective structure but use additional straw to shield the spinach plants.

Check moisture levels throughout the winter and keep soil slightly moist. Be cognizant of overwatering to avoid root rot. Root rot causes oxygen deprivation from the plants’ roots, which will stunt growth or kill your crop. As days become longer and temperatures increase you can begin to remove little layers of straw every few weeks.

After all straw has been removed, your spinach crop is just weeks away. Encourage growth by spraying a fish emulsion mixture on your spinach bed. As leaves grow, pluck or cut them from plants and continue to do so as they replenish themselves. Be sure to thoroughly wash spinach leaves before using them in your cooking to avoid ingesting any germs or bacteria.

Cook your spinach with olive oil and garlic in a skillet for a delicious side dish. You can even use your own overwintered garlic (link to overwintering garlic post) for a delightful garden to table snack!

Overwintering Turnips

All About Overwintering: Radishes and Turnips

Radishes and turnips are quick to mature and will develop quickly after days become longer and temperatures rise in the spring. An added benefit of overwintering radishes and turnips is their resistance to pests and disease.

These plants appreciate well-drained soil that is loosened about a foot to 16 inches deep.  Select a turnip-growing site that will get full sun when spring season arrives.

Plant seeds about a half inch deep when the first frost occurs and cover with a layer of compost and a thicker layer of straw for winter protection.

Throughout the winter keep the soil lightly moist, but not overly moist, to avoid root rot. Root rot will cause the plants to be deprived of oxygen and can kill the plants or stunt their growth. Be sure to keep these beds weed-free. As temperatures begin to climb and winter winds down you can remove the straw layer over your garden bed.

These plants will have initial harvest anywhere from six to eight weeks into growing. Mature harvests will be available about two and a half months after growth begins. Water plants at an average one inch of water weekly. Once harvested, turnips and radishes will store about two to three months in a cool, dark place.

Interested in overwintering other vegetables? Spinach, onions, and garlic are all great options!