Winter Garden Crops

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There isn’t anything to plant in the garden this month, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do in the garden.

For starters, there may still be some collards, cabbage, spinach, kale, or other leafy greens still growing in the garden. Those that haven’t been killed by a frost will continue to grow and put on new leaves that can be harvested sporadically throughout the winter. In some cases, the frost will actually improve the flavor of the foliage.

Root crops that may still be growing in the garden could include turnips, rutabagas, carrots, onions and garlic. Except for the onions and garlic, the other root crops can be harvested as needed through the winter as well. The soil acts as a good insulator to keep the roots from getting soft and loosing flavor. Eventually they will get woody as the weather warms in the spring and will no longer be good to eat. For now, enjoy those root crops over the next couple of winter months.

If you still have tender leafy greens like lettuce, you may want to build a framework for a row cover over the bed. This will give them a little protection from the cold and keep them growing a little longer. A row cover can provide about five degrees of cold protection.

I have a few plants growing under a row cover in the garden right now. It’s been a good year watching them as the cover kept the caterpillars off the cabbage and collards and has allowed them to grow, but the aphids that were evidently already on the plants have multiplied like crazy. Insecticidal soap and horticultural oils have had some effect, but the few that escape these contact insecticides and build back the populations really quick. The next time we are expecting a frost it might be worth it to uncover the beds and let the frost sweeten the leaves and kill some of the insects.