Vegetables and Fruit forum: What's going on in our Winter Vegetable Gardens?

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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Nov 30, 2013 11:12 PM CST
Winter in the vegetable garden. Certainly a slow time of the year. But hopefully we still have things to talk about.

Everyone come join us!

I mulched my newer veggie beds with thick layers of fall leaves and will leave them like that till spring. My tomato plant beds are all bare of plants. Tomato plants long since pulled out. The straw I used for mulch in the spring is almost gone, having decomposed. Any left in the spring can be turned under.
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crittergarden
Dec 1, 2013 7:10 AM CST
Just saying "Hi".
Will be back later.
To read, mostly. I haven't started Winter gardening yet but will next year.
Besides parsnips, what other root crops will go longest here in Pittsburgh?
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Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
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bitbit
Dec 1, 2013 7:47 AM CST
Rita, I was responding to Arlene, who is in zone 8. But, that's just because I have no experience growing in colder zones... it turns out that parsnips are one of the most cold-tolerant food plants out there. If your ground freezes hard, I'd probably mulch them, at least to make digging easier if you decide to harvest one, but I bet you could grow them over winter even in zone 6. Germinating them was the hardest part for me - we often have warm weather late into the fall, and the seeds prefer cool to sprout. They're best to harvest after a few frosts, so I aimed for February with mine, as that's the only month we reliably get freezing weather - some years, the first frost hit in January.

(I just tried looking this up on Google, and found conflicting results, from "stands a zone 2 winter" to "doesn't take a hard frost". I know the latter isn't true from experience, and have a hard time believing the former... reality must be somewhere in the middle.)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 10:52 AM CST
Thanks Bit-Bit. I don't have any Parsnips as mine that I planted, which was at the same time I planted Rutabaga and Turnips, did not come up. I will be trying again in the spring with various root crops.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 10:53 AM CST
crittergarden said:Just saying "Hi".
Will be back later.
To read, mostly. I haven't started Winter gardening yet but will next year.
Besides parsnips, what other root crops will go longest here in Pittsburgh?


Critter, stick around even though not much is going on in the veggie gardens in the winter months. We can all dream of spring and plan for spring.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Dec 1, 2013 11:02 AM CST
Yes, let's keep the forums going over the winter.
I do not have any veges growing right now.
Some years I have done parsnips. They improve with a snap of cold weather.
So far I have obtained seeds for broccoli and climbing spinach.
The broccoli is a kind which does not produce a central stem bunch.
It is supposed to produce just the smaller side bunches.
It would be nice if someone with experience in growing various broccoli would write an article.
There seems to be a variety of types?
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 11:09 AM CST
There are different broccoli but I have mostly grown the common kinds that you would recognize from the supermarket. I do love broccoli though as it is very tasty.
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Dec 1, 2013 11:28 AM CST
Caroline, is your climbing spinach Malabar spinach? It is a tropical, and not hardy for even one frost. It did well for me in my hot, humid summers (which most leafy greens won't tolerate), but I'm not sure it's well suited to your climate. It needs a somewhat long season - the plants are slow to start climbing, though once they're a few inches tall they'll take off quickly. I'm interested to hear how it does for you if you grow it next year.

I don't have it in me to write an article right now, but I've grown a few broccoli varieties, and can answer questions if you have them... but since our climates are so different, I'm not sure how applicable my advice would be. Here's the short version off the top of my head:

Calabrese: the most tender variety I grew - it stood all winter for me, but showed some damage in the heaviest frosts. Incredibly prolific with side-shoots after the main head was harvested and had a very traditional broccoli flavor.

Romanesco: a beautiful plant, and had more hardiness than was needed in my zone (actually grew in winter rather than just surviving), but it only produced one main head and stopped, no side-shoots for later harvest. Flavor was incredible, somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower with a nuttiness that you don't expect from something green.

Broccolo spigariello: technically a "leaf broccoli", so you harvest the greens, which have a broccoli flavor, rather than the heads. However, mine did produce many small florets, similar to the side-shoots of the Calabrese whenever the weather warmed to be frost-free for a while. Flavor is a bit stronger, with that spiciness typical of Brassicas, but still very much broccoli-like. Didn't seem to mind my winter at all, but didn't thrive quite as much as the Romanesco.

I've also eaten the unopened flower buds off of many other Brassicas. When I harvest these, I call them all broccoli, even though they technically aren't. Flavor is often reminiscent of the plant from which they came - I loved the mild earthy flavor of my Kohlrabi and cabbage buds, while collards and mustard could sometimes get a bit too spicy for my taste, especially as the weather warmed. Brussels sprouts were the only Brassica that would never go to flower in my garden, perhaps because my winter just wasn't cold enough.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 11:32 AM CST
Bit Bit, that is very well written information. Go to the Ideas section and simply make it into a garden idea. It is very easy to do and it could be published during cold season veggie week! Thumbs up
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 11:42 AM CST
January is a Plants Week for Cold Weather Veggie Crops and I know Trish is looking for Garden Ideas to fit that theme. Also March is Tomatoes/Peppers week and articles are needed for that theme also.
Name: Dillard Haley
Augusta Georgia (Zone 8a)
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farmerdill
Dec 1, 2013 12:51 PM CST
Sprouting broccoli should be a good winter crop particularly in coastal areas. It forms multiple sideshoots not much in the way of a central head. Sprouting broccoli varies include Purple Sprouting, Green Sprouting and white sprouting. Popular in England for over wintering. Only one I have grown is Purple Sprouting, Big plant loaded with florets. http://www.nickys-nursery.co.uk/garden-shop/seeds/vegetable-...
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
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bitbit
Dec 1, 2013 1:12 PM CST
Oh, thanks for the reminder Farmer Dill. I have also grown White Sprouting, and forgot to put it in my post above, because I don't have quite as much experience with it. I recall the flavor being fairly mild, and the plants staying small relative to Calabrese. I don't remember how productive it was, or perhaps didn't grow enough plants to make a good assessment of that.

My winter climate in Southeast VA was similar to much of England, with a cool, damp season that rarely got truly cold. Our summers are quite different, and Brassicas cannot grow then due to the heat, though in more moderate areas they might.

And thanks, Rita. I'll see if I can figure that out. I've actually never done an Idea or Article on ATP. The articles I wrote for my Cubit were much longer and more involved, with pictures and whatnot, and that's what I didn't want to commit to right now.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 1:21 PM CST
Bit Bit, you can make the articles as long or as short as you want.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Dec 1, 2013 1:56 PM CST
I know onions, carrots, turnips and parsnips survive the winters for my mother in Traverse City Mi. Sorry, not sure what zone, I think 5, but not sure.

I've had good luck with Premium Crop broccoli and this year I had to buy my plants and all that was available was Packman. I wasn't sure about side shoots but it was very good and had lots of side shoots, some fairly large.
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crittergarden
Dec 1, 2013 2:16 PM CST
Oh I want to hang around for Winter to see what's going on elsewhere.

I'll be expanding my straw bale veggie bed in the spring and planting root crops for next year.
Also either getting my hands on some plexiglass to cover it when it gets cold out or just using sheet plastic. Just to see how far I can extend the season.

I do have a broccoli question. I picked up a single little start in a peat pot at Home Depot or somewhere this year and it went straight to flower instead of looking much like broccoli at all. Was it possibly too HOT in July for it? I'm not going to try again until I educate myself on it....
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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Dec 1, 2013 2:19 PM CST
Yep, too hot most likely. Broccoli does best early spring and fall, not summer.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 2:26 PM CST
Broccoli is a cold weather crop. Just like all the members of the cabbage family. Plant them VERY early in spring or you can plant a fall crop. But defiantely broccoli doesn't like hot weather and will immediately bolt and maybe just plan die.
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Dec 1, 2013 2:43 PM CST
GOT IT!
Thanks for that.
Wintersow, maybe?
SHOW ME YOUR CRITTERS! I have a critter page over at Cubits. http://cubits.org/crittergarden/thread/view/73275/
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Dec 1, 2013 2:53 PM CST
That I'm not sure about. I haven't really done much WS. It might be too late if you do that. Maybe just put a few in a six pack around mid to late Feb.?
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Dec 1, 2013 3:00 PM CST
I never have done wintersowing either. So I don't know. What I do is get seeds and start them in one of those veggie six packs that I recycle by putting in fresh potting mix.

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