Winter garden update #3

Our hoophouse, which is covering the 2 winter beds.
It's been a little over a month since my last update so I thought I'd let you know how my winter garden experiment is doing.

The south bed.
To recap, I have two 3-foot by 8-foot raised beds that are covered with floating row cover. We built a small hoophouse (plastic-covered greenhouse, see above) in the fall which covers the two beds and the pathway in between.

The north bed.
The south bed (right) hasn't done very well, but that was mostly my fault for not choosing more cold-hardy veggies. I planted tatsoi, mizuna and a red-leaf lettuce in that bed. I knew the lettuce would bite the dust by December so that wasn't a big surprise. However, I was surprised to see how poorly the mizuna and tatsoi did. There are just a few plants that are still alive but they're not producing enough harvest.

The north bed is the complete opposite! In it, I have kale, corn salad (a.k.a mache) and arugula. As you can see, everything is growing just fine. The kale is particularly cold-hardy and has mostly been unfazed by the coldest weather we've had this winter (so far). I'm very impressed. I plan to harvest some again this week.

In the meantime, I have been studying the Johnny's Selected Seeds catalog as they have an excellent assortment of greens and -- of particular interest -- very cold-hardy varieties. You can bet some of those will be going in the garden this fall!

Corn salad or mache.
As I mentioned in my last post, my biggest mistake was to choose two raised beds directly north of my little greenhouse for the winter garden because it doesn't get as much light as the plants need. In the spring, we'll move the hoophouse to a better location. I'll grow tomatoes, melons and cucumbers in it during the summer and then prep the soil in the fall and plant my next winter garden.

I also wanted to tell you that I'll be teaching a class on winter vegetable gardening at the "Cabin Fever Gardening Symposium" on Saturday, March 14. Here's a previous blog post on Cabin Fever and a link to the Master Gardener Foundation of Spokane County, which has additional information and online registration.

Stay tuned...