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Winter Garden – Early January

January 10, 2013

Oh Cascadia, how I love thee!  For the most part you allow me to harvest from my gardens throughout the winter.

Here is how our garden stores appear this second week of January.  We’ve had a mild winter so far, with a bout of dry freezing weather where nighttime temperatures dipped into the low 20’s.  Where our farm is located is in an odd weather predicting space.  We’re sheltered from the battering Columbia Gorge east winds, so we aren’t buffeted by 80 mph winds, but our soil freezes.  So on one hand we are colder, but warmer also because we don’t have to factor in wind chill.  I only have to go a few miles west to hit “bad” weather.  If I listen to the weather forecast from Portland, I need to pay attention to Portland, Cascades, and Columbia Gorge forecasts to determine the blend of weather we will have.

I wanted to replenish my root and vegetable stash before the snow came.  I also wanted to see how the roots were faring with low 20’s temps for a week too.  As it turned out, today we only have about a half-inch of snow, just enough to be sloppy and not enough to insulate the garden or my hoses stretched out to the barn.  (More on the hose thing later.)  I’m glad I had a semi rain-free afternoon to dig vegetables.  It’s a messy job.

dig after thaw and before snow

dig after thaw and before snow

A couple of weeks ago, I did do my soil hilling on my root crops.  It’s always a gamble, severe cold will penetrate the soil unless we get snow cover, then I don’t really worry, but it hardly gets that cold here, so most winters the soil hilling does the trick.  Natures root cellar is right in my garden.  Not many areas are able to pull that off, but that’s a benefit of a semi-maritime climate.  It’s like living in a big ol’ fridge most of the time.  High humidity and cool are what most root vegetables really like for long-term storage.

So here is the muddy mess, rutabagas, celeriac, beets, carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, and mangels.

I’m done with the mangels for the year, since they are so prone to freezing with their above ground growing habit, I try to feed them out first.  Too much work for me to harvest, store and feed out.  I am leaning more towards parsnips and carrots only for Jane in the future… .

Melissa F1

Melissa F1

Besides roots, I have several varieties of kale and cabbage for winter consumption.  The chard is also plugging along.

Ruby Ball F1

Ruby Ball F1

Red and savoy cabbages have been my go-to winter cabbages for some time now.  They take a beating and still have a great size head after trimming away any frost damage.  The chickens have been in hog heaven with lots of greens, and we have been in egg heaven as a result of that.

Joi Choi F1

Joi Choi F1

Bok choy has always been one of those plants that seems too tender for winter gardening, but it always surprises me.  I don’t know if surprise is really the right word though, since I always plant it for winter, and most of the plants survive some horrendous treatment and still put out succulent greens.

Red Russian

Red Russian

Kale is one of those winter time vegetables so popular here in the Pacific Northwest, but I always have mixed results.  My Red Russian did not take the freeze too well, nor did White Russian, again.


Hunger Gap

Hunger Gap is doing okay, a little freeze damage but looking much better than Red Russian.  Kales that are doing well are Lacinato, Redbor but the star is Rainbow Lacinato, which always does well for me no matter what time of year.  Planting all my kales in one place, at the same time, really shows what dies, survives or thrives.

Lacinato Rainbow

Lacinato Rainbow

So that’s the state of “vegetation” in my garden.  How is your garden faring this winter?

18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2013 5:42 pm

    Oh, the size of that kohlrabi! I want it. I haven’t too much left in the garden. 2 kohlrabis, some Swiss chard, and a bunch of Romenescu broccoli. They have done very well despite some hard freezes. I still can’t believe I am eating fresh produce in January from my own garden. I never would have even attempted it if it hadn’t been for reading about such things on your blog. So thanks for that!

    • January 10, 2013 6:33 pm

      Lucky Robin, my Romanesco bit the dust in the freeze, but I did sock lots away in the freezer. I’m down to about 8 kohlrabis so I’ll be in withdrawal pretty soon 😦

  2. Trish permalink
    January 10, 2013 5:44 pm

    My garden is dead as a doornail, frozen solid and buried under piles of that fluffy white stuff that I’m trying to stay positive about. My first thought on reading this post was how does a small family manage to consume that many vegetables? Kudos to you, although I’m sure Jane is pretty happy about her share. I’ve been feeding my milk cow chopped up pumpkin and other winter squashes that we have stored in our house. Sometimes carrots too although they are so precious to us humans that it is hard to share them.
    Do you have any good recipes to share for these root and cole crops? I’ve been getting very bored. I have most of the same stuff to work with from our root cellar, plus frozen kale (among other veggies). Thanks for all the good posts!

    • January 10, 2013 6:32 pm

      Trish, we eat a lot of vegetables, think Paleo before it was fashionable 😉 I might have beets and winter squash for lunch with a fried egg, washed down with a glass of milk, so it’s pretty surprising how fast stuff goes really, or how many beets you need when you eat them for snacks. I know what you mean about the carrots, I’ve been getting into Jane’s row, :O one garden had more voles than the other so, we’re not short, but I don’t think there will be a surplus 😦

      Gosh, I am a boring cook – we eat most of the greens and cabbage sauteéd and most of the roots roasted. Pretty boring fare really, but also pretty tasty and easy prep.

  3. January 11, 2013 4:23 am

    Ours also frozen and under 8″ of snow here in Western Mass. But we are to get 55F on Sunday, not that it will change anything garden wise. Just the annual January thaw.

  4. January 11, 2013 6:56 am

    I planted garlic, broccoli and spinach, so far the garlic is up and I have gotten one cutting from the broccoli. I can’t find the spinach, too many weeds, this week I planted some carrots, parsnips and mustard greens. I live in North East, Georgia so really a mild winter. We have had a couple of hard freeze’s so far down to 28 and expecting a couple more. Ellen from Georgia

  5. smfarm permalink
    January 11, 2013 7:16 am

    I’m in southern Tennessee where we’re having record highs in the 70s this weekend and rain every day for more than a week. I’ve still got kale, chard, carrots, radishes, spinach, and my favorite lettuce, Bronze Arrow, growing. I wish I’d planted more of it and earlier, but this was an experimental year.

  6. January 11, 2013 7:38 am

    Your veggies are beautiful! With our move early fall we didn’t have a garden here. Hubby is talking about my little green house on the south side of our house. We have good southern exposure here on top of our hill. I need it to start my first seeds which should be here soon but I may end up using some lights. We have very few south facing windows and they’re small. I’m looking forward to having a fall garden next year that I can try to carry over into early winter.

  7. jenj permalink
    January 11, 2013 8:06 am

    I have carrot envy! Mine are in loose soil (composted horse & chicken manure), well-watered… and miniscule. I planted them over 60 days ago, and it’s been in the 40-50s here. How long are your carrots in the ground for before harvest? Perhaps I’m just not being patient enough!

    • January 11, 2013 8:49 am

      Jenj, LOL, I planted those carrots in late May, and early June, a lot of my fall/winter crops are seeded at about the same time I do my summer crops. I did plant some faster maturing carrots that we have already eaten, (except one 5 gallon bucket) they don’t hold up in the rain without splitting, but these Chantenays take a long time to mature, and they last until spring, if they don’t get eaten.

  8. January 11, 2013 8:33 am

    I really like all your root vegetables, the kohlrabi is so big. What kind of mangels did you grow? I couldn’t get mine to grow could have been the excessive heat during the summer. Ellen from Georgia

    • January 11, 2013 8:51 am

      Ellen, that’s Kossack winter kohlrabi, they can get big without getting woody. I grew the Mammoth Long Red, and Golden Eckendorf mangels, and they were seeded in late May. Heat usually isn’t a problem here 😦

  9. January 11, 2013 9:11 am

    Kale and chard still going strong in the garden, though I’m apparently sharing them with the deer :(. I didn’t over winter any carrots this year, but in past years, I’ve had trouble with them going mushy as the soil starts to get waterlogged about now (heavy clay). I seem to remember that parsnips and leeks fare better in this regard. I’m on South Vancouver Island, a couple km from the water, and about 100 m above sea level, so a similar climate to you, but a tad milder – way less snow for example..

    • January 11, 2013 11:06 am

      Might be the carrot variety, some don’t overwinter too well in the soil. Mine get mushy if they freeze 😦 Nothing smells worse than a rotten carrot, unless it’s a rotten potato :p

  10. Christie permalink
    January 12, 2013 12:55 pm

    Oh, I am so jealous! Although even here in Indianapolis, a foot worth of snow (which had been on the ground for two weeks) just melted away, and I found my chard and rosemary still alive and kicking. I think this year, I’ll be exploring more year-round gardening options, too! I love these shots.

  11. January 22, 2013 9:16 am

    go, kohlrabi. i haven’t seen any around here (NM) but am dying to try the chef ottolenghi’s kohlrabi slaw. maybe you will and let us know if it’s any good. sounds good.

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