Learning to over-winter greens and build low tunnels

(from our Plant Providence blog) Saturday morning was a beautiful day to learn about over wintering greens and building low tunnels at the Davis Park Community Garden. We learned that plants like chard, parsley, spinach, arugula, carrots and collards are able to survive the winter if kept full grown. These vegetables won’t grow again until March, but you’ll yield a lovely harvest once spring hits!

Seed in September (even October). Cover your garden bed with row cover in November. In December, put up hoops and plastic. Keep the plastic on until mid to late March, not harvesting on sunny days to prevent wilting.  Once your direct seeded salad greens are about 7″ tall, you cut the leaves about an inch above the crown of the plant (being careful not to cut off the crown). In doing this, the leaves will grow back, slowly if it is cold and dark, and quickly if it is warm and sunny.  Katie Miller of Scratch Farm suggests “planting claytonia, spinach, ruby streaks mustard, collards, and lettuce all in mid September, plant more spinach than anything else, and pick everything but the spinach in the late fall when it is ready, save the spinach for the really cold dark days, it will survive better than the rest.”

Once you build your low tunnels you won’t need to water the entire season. Try to “aerate” your low tunnels on sunny days to regulate humidity. If you wanted to harvest, don’t be scared if your plants look really bad after they get exposed to the cold air. They will be shocked by the sudden fluctuation in humidity levels but they’ll bounce back in a few days (aren’t plants amazing?). Any questions about over wintering greens and low tunnels can be directed to Katie (katie.miller@gmail.com) of Scratch Farm! Thanks Katie for doing the demo for us!

Read more about over-wintering greens on our Urban Ag. Resource Center.

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