|Photo by Joyce D'Agostino|
The summer is winding down,and for many that means the end of gardening season. There is good news, however, for those who want to try to extend harvests into the cooler weather and to try some new methods.
Many of the vegetables commonly called “greens” such as spinach, kale and collard greens enjoy and even get better tasting with the cooler weather. It’s well known that these leafy greens pack a lot of nutrition, and can be enjoyed in salads, prepared as a side dish or added to smoothies.
With a little protection such as frost blankets, floating row covers or plastic tents, these plants can go well into the colder months and possibly even provide ongoing harvests well into early winter. Planting them now allows them to establish their roots and begin growing their leaves for sturdier plants. Other great vegetables to try that tolerate colder weather and shorter days are root crops such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips.
For the most part, the fall into the winter gardening is more of a harvesting time rather than seeing plants getting bigger and producing ongoing fruits and vegetables. One good reference book to read on this topic is “Four Seasons Harvest” by Elliot Coleman. Coleman began experimenting growing into the colder seasons on his Vermont farm and has some valuable tips for trying this in your own home garden. He explains that the colder months are more for harvesting what you have sown weeks before and how the proper protection and cultural practices keep the harvests going.
Here are some research based references for spinach and kale that give you tips on starting and growing these delicious greens this fall and winter: