by Chris Hanson
At a time when we may be stuck indoors, watching the snow fall steadily on the garden just outside of our windows, it may be a good idea to begin planning a way to get fresh, delicious, locally-grown vegetables to put on your plates. No, I'm not talking about some new e-commerce delivery service from San Francisco.
When we think of fresh vegetables, we often think of potatoes and winter squashes stored from the fall harvest, or some other prize of our garden relegated to cold storage in the root cellar. What many are discovering though, is that fresh leafy vegetables may be had year-round.
Now, growing a bunch of juicy tomatoes isn't the sort of thing that will work when Ohio temperatures finally get down to near-zero. Fruiting crops, like tomatoes, need sun-filled day warm temperatures to produce a delicious bounty.
"Winter fare is about leaves, stems and roots, which mature more and more slowly as the weather cools and the days shorten. Better still, winter vegetables sweeten with the cold. If you've ever tasted a winter-pulled carrot or winter-cut spinach, you're familiar with the treasures winter gardening can bring," writes Barbara Damrosch.
Now, can one just plant seeds in the fall and expect even the hardiest of vegetables to survive at a time when the local boxwood, rose, and viticulture species have suffered at the hands of Ohio winters? Hardly. This is where cold frames, hoop houses, or a simple greenhouse would come into play. Even two rows of Reemay floating row cover, or hay bales will help to protect against the brutally cold winds that dry everything out. Sound difficult to swallow? Read about Parisian Winter Gardens from the late 1600s.
More Winter Gardening Tips Here
Now then, which crops make the list of winter vegetables worth sowing?
The 12 Best Winter Crops
"Giant Winter" Spinach
Asian Greens, like Tatsoi, Mei Qing Ghoi,
"True Siberian" or "Star Smooth" Kales
Claytonia (or Miner's Lettuce)
"Forest Green" Parsely
"Cherry Belle" Radish
There are different varieties for each of these plants which may fare just as well, or better. Try different ones, and let us know your results!
Damrosch, B. (2013). BEST CROPS AND VARIETIES for Winter Gardening. Mother Earth News, (260), 38-42.
Coleman, E. (2009). The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses.