So that you need to begin reaping a winter harvest, however you’re undecided the place to start out?
Eliot Coleman breaks down the three fundamental parts of the winter harvest in order that this time subsequent yr, you’ll be knee-high in produce! (Possibly not knee-high, however you’ll undoubtedly have recent greens!)
The Winter Harvest: Three Elements
The winter harvest, as we apply it at 4 Season Farm, has three parts: cold-hardy greens, succession planting, and guarded cultivation.
1. Chilly-Hardy Greens
Chilly-hardy greens are those who tolerate chilly temperatures.
They’re typically cultivated outdoor year-round in areas with delicate winter climates. Nearly all of them have far decrease gentle necessities than the warm-season crops.
The listing of cold-hardy greens contains the acquainted—spinach, chard, carrots, scallions—and the novel—mâche, claytonia, minutina, and arugula.
To this point there are some thirty completely different greens—arugula, beet greens, broccoli raab, carrots, chard, chicory, claytonia, collards, dandelion, endive, escarole, garlic greens, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mâche, minutina, mizuna, mustard greens, pak choi, parsley, radicchio, radish, scallions, sorrel, spinach, tatsoi, turnips, watercress—which at one time or one other we’ve got grown in our winter-harvest greenhouses.
The consuming high quality of those cold-hardy greens is unmatched in the course of the cooler temperatures of fall, winter, and spring. They attain the next stage of perfection with out the warmth stress of summer season.
2. Succession Planting
Succession planting means sowing greens greater than as soon as throughout a season with a view to present for a continuous harvest.
The selection of sowing dates, from late summer season by means of late fall, and winter into spring, retains the cornucopia flowing. In midwinter the vigorous regrowth on cut-and-come-again crops gives the harvest whereas late-fall-and-winter-sown crops slowly attain productive measurement.
We start planting the winter-harvest crops on August 1, the beginning of what we name the “second spring.”
We proceed planting by means of the autumn. The fact of sowing for winter harvest is that the seasons are reversed from the standard spring-planting expertise. Day size is contracting reasonably than increasing; temperatures have gotten cooler reasonably than hotter.
Success in sustaining a continuity of crops for harvest by means of the winter is a operate of understanding the impact of shorter day size and cooler temperatures on rising the time from sowing to reap.
Thus the selection of exact sowing dates for fall planting is way more essential than for spring planting. The dates are additionally very crop particular.
We intention for a aim of by no means leaving a greenhouse mattress unplanted, and we come fairly shut. Inside twenty-four hours after a crop is harvested, we take away the residues, re-prepare the soil, and replant. We hold cautious information in order to comply with as assorted a crop rotation as doable.
3. Protected Cultivation
Protected cultivation means greens underneath cowl.
Many scrumptious winter greens want solely that minimal safety.
Our winter-harvest chilly homes are customary, plastic-covered, gothic-style hoop homes. The most important of our homes are 30 ft huge and 96 ft lengthy.
They’re aligned on an east-west axis. For probably the most half the chilly homes want solely a single-layer overlaying of UV-resistant plastic, whereas heated greenhouses profit from two layers, that are air-inflated to attenuate warmth loss.
The success of our chilly homes appears unlikely in our Zone 5 Maine winters the place temperatures can drop to –20˚F (–29˚C). However our rising system works as a result of we’ve got realized to enhance the climate-tempering impact of the chilly home itself by including a second layer of safety.
We place floating row-cover materials over the crops contained in the greenhouse to create a twicetempered local weather. The soil itself thus turns into our heat-storage medium, as it’s within the pure world.
Any kind of light-weight floating row cowl that permits gentle, air, and moisture to cross by means of is appropriate for the internal layer materials within the chilly homes.
The row cowl is supported by flattopped wire wickets at a top of about 12 inches (30 cm) above the soil. We area the wickets each 4 ft (120 cm) alongside the size of 30-inch-wide (75 cm) rising beds.
The protected crops nonetheless expertise temperatures under freezing, however nowhere close to as low or as aggravating as they’d with out the internal layer. For instance, when the outside temperature drops to –15˚F (–26˚C), the temperature underneath the internal layer of the chilly home drops solely to fifteen˚F to 18°F above zero (–10˚C to –8°C) on common.
The cold-hardy greens are far hardier than growers may think and, in our expertise, many can simply survive temperatures right down to 10˚F (–12˚C) or decrease so long as they aren’t uncovered to the extra stresses of out of doors situations.
The double protection additionally will increase the relative humidity within the protected space, which affords extra safety in opposition to freezing injury.
The local weather modification achieved by combining internal and outer layers within the chilly homes is the technical basis of our low-input winter-harvest idea.
In a world of ever extra difficult applied sciences, the winter harvest is refreshingly uncomplicated as a result of all three of those parts are well-known to most vegetable growers.
What is just not well-known is the synergy created when they’re utilized in mixture, and that’s what we proceed to discover each day on our farm.
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