Fall Planting and Overwinter Planning
Some of the last opportunities for fall planting are upon us, and we are preparing crops to overwinter. In the Treasure Valley the first predicted frost date is October 14th according to The Farmers Almanac, which has held a pretty good track record for predictions for decades. The current 10-day forecast predicts a low of 40 degrees through October 26th, but it's good to be prepared and check weather forecasts regularly!
Quick overview: If you want greens in February, NOW’s the time to direct seed your favorite varieties and bury them in mulch, we traditionally recommend a thick layer of fall leaves.* Seed Garlic has obviously been our favorite recommendation for this time of year! We are sold out for this season, but be sure to check your local growing center to see if they've got seed garlic. We'll fire things up again next season with more, be sure to stay tuned!
What About Greens in the Winter?
Plant starts can grow through the winter if they are protected. If you haven't started any plants for fall eating, check out your local nursery to see what they've got! Using a cold frame helps to ensure that you will have greens to eat over the winter. Adding additional lighting may increase the potential of edible greens before February. Without added lights, plants will take longer to grow and get leggy.
Root Veggies and Cold-Hardy Crops
The veggies you already have in the ground are the most likely to overwinter well. Cover carrots or beets with a big thick layer of leaves, so you can go out and dig them later. You can do the same with parsnips though they don’t need it… they’re so winter hardy. If the top of either carrots or beets gets frozen they can turn to mush. If they are protected with mulch that won’t happen. Parsnips are hard to dig out of the ground if they’re frozen in place. Just another thing to love about mulch! You can simply push it to the side when you're ready, and you’re able to dig into the soil and get them out.
Regions that get more snow have an easier time overwintering because snow serves as insulation itself. With a thick layer of snowfall, the ground will maintain a consistent 32 degrees, no matter how cold it gets above the snow. A lot of our cold crops don’t care if it’s freezing, or 10 degrees above ground. Below ground, they are vulnerable to colder temps, especially in areas that don’t have a lot of snow cover but reach those low temperatures.
In short, if you really want to try a crop from seed that you're able to eat before February, implement season extenders and lights. If you want to increase your chances of success, buy some starts. Protect your root veggies, and check out our cold-hardy varieties! Mulch!!!
*Due to an invasion of voracious roly polys this season, the garden shown here is enjoying thick straw mulch--they reportedly thrive on decaying leaves. Additionally, due to the late warmth we're experiencing in the Treasure Valley, there aren't all that many leaves to collect just yet! But when they do fall, they'll be incorporated around other areas of the garden to bring the nourishment and cover to the soil that they offer. Protecting alliums is a good use for leaf mulch, as roly polys tend to avoid those.