Meet the Winter Team

Head of cauliflower

Cauliflower, Snowball Y Organic
Photo from Burpee

Last week I shared in this post that I’m planning to grow vegetables this winter. For those of you who are following and would like to try to do the same, I thought I’d share just exactly what we’re planting.

But before we get to the starting lineup, I wanted to quickly share some information about the garden layout for winter. The winter garden will consist of six 4’ x 12’ raised beds which have been converted into “hot beds” using manure, compost and plastic row covers. Our crop selections include cool weather plants and each crop is neighbor to a suitable companion plant. The winter garden rotation is counterclockwise, meaning that whatever I plant in Bed B this year I’ll be planting in Bed A next year. This counterclockwise rotation syncs with the clockwise rotation of the summer garden layout so that no matter the season, the crop I’m planting will not be placed in space that was previously occupied by a plant in the same family. This is essential to natural growing practices because plants of the same family use the same nutrients and can deplete the soil. Also, planting crops in the same place every year makes it really easy for pests and diseases to know where to find your food!

For a visual representation of the garden layout, click here. Please note that you’ll have to zoom in quite a bit (400%) to see the details. The empty squares are ‘placeholders’ for the crops that will be there in the summer. Cells that look like they have little lightening bolts are crops which I’m planting in fall to overwinter and harvest in the spring. The squares outlined in red will be ‘hotbed squares’. All of the winter spaces would have been hotbeds except that I got a little ahead of myself and planted/transplanted some crops that now cannot be disturbed. Oops.

Meet the Team

Here are the major players in our winter garden for 2012/2013. For purchase info, click on the crop name.

  • Lolla Rosa Lettuce [Burpee] – “Crisp green leaves with tightly crinkled, ruby-red edges from a mounded, round shape. A great cut-and-come-again variety.” 55 days to harvest.
  • Little Gem Lettuce [Burpee] – “A small robust romaine with sweet flavor. Its small size makes it easy to grow, perfect for individual salads.” 45 days to harvest.
  • Sugar Snap Peas [Botanical Interests] – “Cool season… Award winning variety will reward you with delectable, crisp, sweet pods for fresh snacks and delicious meals.” 70 days to harvest.
  • Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Peas [Botanical Interests] – “Cool season… Oregon Sugar Pod II produces a huge number of 4” delicious pods which are harvested and eaten when the pods are flat, before the seed forms… Short, 28” vines easy to manage. Resists mildew, pea virus, and common wilt. Excellent freezer variety. Grow on a trellis.” 60 days to harvest.
  • Progress #9 Shelling Peas [Botanical Interests] – “Cool season heirloom… An old favorite, this 18” tall plant needs no staking and has plump peas with superb flavor.” 58 days to harvest.
  • Red Express Cabbage [Burpee] – “Vibrant, red leaves are crunchy and sweet. Compact round heads grow to 3-4 lbs.” 65 days to harvest.
  • Red Winter Kale [Botanical Interests] – “Most kale gets sweeter as the first frost hits. Red Winter is sweet all the time making it excellent for mesclun mixes, garnishes and sautéeing. The red veins, wavy margins, and foliage that resembles oak leaves make Red Winter as attractive as it is delicious.” 25 days to harvest.
  • Snowball Y Cauliflower [Burpee] – “Flavorful, 6” pure white heads grow to 3-5 lbs. Good leaf coverage allows for self blanching.” 80 days to harvest.
  • Little Finger Carrots [Botanical Interests] – “A gourmet mini-carrot… Though it tastes great fresh from the garden, Little Finger was developed in France for pickling and canning whole.”
  • Carnival Blend Carrots [Botanical Interests] – “Just like the popular orange carrots, red, purple, white and yellow carrots contain plenty of vitamin A and other healthful nutrients. Carnival Blend carrots can also be harvested when only 3” to 4” long for gourmet baby carrots.”
  • Dragon Carrots [Seed Savers Exchange] – “Beautiful red-purple exterior provides an amazing contrast with the yellow-orange interior when sliced. Sweet, almost spicy flavor.” 90 days to harvest.
  • Musselburgh Leeks [Victory Seeds] – “Very large and hardy, tender white, mild flavored stalks, with fan-shaped leaves that are dark green in color. Winters well.” 150 days to harvest.
  • Purple Top White Globe Turnips [Seed Savers Exchange] – “Uniform smooth white globes are best for eating when 3-4” in diameter but remain in good condition until quite large. Sweet, mild, fine-grained white flesh. Large tops make delicious greens. Excellent quality, stores very well.” 45-65 days to harvest.
  • Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli [Victory Seeds] – “Old English variety, over wintering for spring harvest, produces many secondary shoots with small purple heads for continuous cutting.” 200 days to harvest.
  • Easter Egg Radishes [Botanical Interests] – “A mix of red, white, rose pink, purple and bi-color {red top, white base} radishes… plant during cool periods of spring and fall.” 30 days to harvest.
  • Detroit Dark Red Medium Top Beets [Burpee] – “Extremely sweet, perfectly round beets 3” across, have deep red skin and dark red flesh. Medium sized tops.” 45 days to harvest.
  • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach [Hart Seeds] – “Dark-green, deeply savoyed (crumpled) leaves which are tender and delicious. It resists bolting (forming seed stalks) longer than most spinach.” 45 days to harvest.

There they are! I’ll follow up soon with plants we’re going to overwinter (plant in fall for spring harvest). Right now it’s time to get back out there and start working!

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