Winter Garden Update From the Farm
From the Farm: Napa Cabbage, Lettuce, and Collards in our Winter Garden
Christmas is right around the corner and will be here before we know it. Unlike the last couple of years, I am way behind on my gift buying this year! That seems to be the theme of 2015, too busy and way behind…haha. Nevertheless, there is still time to get it all done, so if you are slacking like me, it’s time to get moving. And for those trying to tend to a winter garden, here are some tips on how to keep your vegetables alive during the harsh cold weather, plus an update from our farm!
Things are plugging along out at the company garden and we are steadily harvesting our cool weather crops. We have a large planting of Napa cabbage that is going to be ready for harvest this week. Napa cabbage is an Asian vegetable that resembles regular cabbage, but has a taller, oval-shaped head. It also contains slightly more protein and fewer calories than regular cabbage. This fast growing cabbage performs extremely well in the fall and spring months here in Georgia; however, it is less cold tolerant than traditional cabbage and can get killed off by temperatures below freezing. We have some tips further below for keeping crops healthy in your winter garden.
This fall has been excellent for growing Napa cabbage as the temperatures have been mild. While this cabbage makes a delicious slaw, it is also good in soups, braised, or used to make cabbage rolls or kimchi (if you’re in to Asian cuisine).
In addition to various cabbages, we have some beautiful young lettuce and collards that worked out just right as a late planting. If you don’t have the luxury of enclosed growing space such as high tunnels or greenhouses, it is usually a gamble setting out anything past mid to late October.
This year has been an exception to that rule thus far, but even in colder years you can utilize floating row covers to extend your season. You likely won’t find these at the typical big box retailers; however, they are readily available online or through most seed catalogs. The material resembles that of a dryer sheet and it lets in sunlight and protects plants from frost.
You will need to install some type of supports over your rows for the cover to rest on. I usually use PVC pipe, but you can also buy metal piping and a bending tool that will allow you to make nice uniform arcs. Once your supports are installed just pull your row cover over the top and weight it down on the sides with sand bags, rocks, bricks etc.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and if you are worried about some of your plants getting frostbitten this season in your winter garden, try some row cover!