These mustard greens and Swiss chard should go all winter under a floating row cover. Photo by Doug Oster
Tomatoes, peppers and vine crops look tired as they patiently wait for the first frost. But even though this is the end for them, it's just the start for other plants.
I don't know what it is that makes gardeners like myself want to extend the season. I know plenty of people who are happy for a well deserved rest as tender plants fade.
I can't do that.
By choosing plants which enjoy growing in cool weather, the garden can be productive most of the winter.
Niki Jabbour, author of The Year Round Veggie Gardener is a kindred spirit, her book is the definitive work on the subject.
She's much more accomplished at growing 365 days a year than I am, and she's gardening in Nova Scotia! I've learned a lot from her and love to keep harvesting into the winter.
My garden is planted with carrots, Swiss chard, mustard greens, lettuce, kale, tatsoi, radishes, spinach and more.
Each bed is covered with a floating row cover. It's a spun bound, translucent fabric which acts as a greenhouse. It can be used for a few seasons if handled with care. The row cover is usually sold in 25 to 50 foot rolls and comes in various widths and thicknesses. It can be found at any good nursery or garden center.
I use 12 gauge wire to support the row cover which I find at my local hardware store. The fabric is so light, the plants themselves can support it, but I've found making hoops with the wire keeps the snow from crushing the plants.
It's not too late to plant if you can find some greens at a nursery. I've seen them locally at Hahn Nursery, Chapon's Greenhouse and Best Feeds.
I put down a couple bags of compost, tuck the plants into the soft soil and then protect them with the floating row cover.
What I love about gardening this time of the year is I don't have to worry about weeds, pests or watering.
There is something magical about going out to the vegetable garden, brushing off the snow and picking something wonderful and fresh from the garden.