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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Winter Garden Questions

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Post  SherrieLou 1/7/2013, 6:41 pm

As a SFG newbie, I decided to experiment with a Fall/Winter Garden. I planted one 4x4 bed in September and got great results but I am confused about a couple things.
1. My cauliflower and cabbage plants are green and healthy but the heads are still very small and don't appear to have grown in last few weeks. Temps in middle TN will probably be going to low 20's-high teens in January. If I leave them alone will they keep growing? Will they winter over and start growing again in spring? or should I go ahead and pick the babies now before it si too late?

2. My spinach, chard and greens are still producing, will they just continue through the spring and summer or should I pull them in spring and replace with new ones?

3. Will the veggies start to get bitter since they have been in the ground for so long or is that only in the summer when it is hot?

Any advice is appreciated Smile

[url=Winter Garden Questions Image11]Garden Jan 2013[/url]
[img]Winter Garden Questions Image10[/img]
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Post  GWN 1/7/2013, 7:26 pm

What I have read about winter gardening, (coleman's book) is that the vegetables will continue to grow, just much slower than other times of the year. It is low 30s, high 20s here and I have spinach growing in a cold frame. I only get a harvest every 2-3 weeks though. I have never grown cabbage though.
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Post  camprn 1/7/2013, 7:54 pm

Your spinach and chard should continue to do well unless you get a prolonged freeze. They are very cold tolerant, but it is my understanding that cell division doesn't happen under 36*F. My guess is they may bolt pretty quickly one it warms up. Plant more seed when that happens.

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Post  FamilyGardening 1/7/2013, 10:46 pm

congrats on your fall/winter garden!...your veggies look great!

last year we had a cauliflower over winter and gave us a nice head in the spring....

this year we tried it again and this time we put a plastic cover over hoops and the plants were lush and green but the small heads turned black.... What a Face ....but other veggies like spinch, lettuce, kale, cabbage and one leek are still doing well....as long as we can keep the slugs away.... Mad

we still have one cauliflower that was planted outside of the hoops and its still doing well...so we shall see if it will give us something this spring....

so in short....i would keep them in as long as they are looking healthy Winter Garden Questions 3170584802

happy gardening
rose
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Post  happycamper 1/8/2013, 12:00 am

I agree that vegetables slow down in winter with no apparent growth which is why it is so important to have them fully established before winter sets in.
The veggies will not get bitter unless they are underwatered (this has happened to me when I do not uncover the beds to get rain or water them properly).
Your greens should winter over and start growing again in the spring. In my area Chard will continue to grow until mid summer and then bolts. Spinach will also grow come spring depending on the weather. Spinach continues for me if I have a long cool spring (which is most years) but will bolt if it gets hot suddenly. If this is the case, I simply let a few plants go and harvest the seed for the next growing season. Keep in mind with SFG that Chard will grow 4-5 feet tall when going to seed.
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Post  SherrieLou 1/8/2013, 10:40 am

Thanks all for the great advice. I really appreciate the help. Very Happy
My cauliflower is in a corner square so I will be able move the plastic and leave it uncovered.
I'll keep the cabbage and greens in the ground and see how they fare over the next couple months.
If I can work out all of the kinks, then I can plant a much larger garden next Fall!
For now, I will cover my winter babies with a plastic blanket and start planning my spring beds!
Thanks so much,
Sherrie Lou
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Post  toledobend 1/8/2013, 1:07 pm

My spinach,lettuce, machen (lamb's lettuce), cabbage, and greens seem to be going strong. The only problem I'm having now is that it gets dark so early, I have to use a flashlight to harvest! LOL
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 1/9/2013, 1:03 am

My first winter garden is mostly successful with a few failures. I had spaghetti squash that got too late of a start and we were hit with a very early freeze so I tried to save them under cover and that was a disaster.

I made 4 large salads tonight with my lettuce, spinach, some peas and fresh tomatoes.

My seedlings are getting a great start, they're so much slower starting than summer so it's hard to not be impatient, LOL!
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Post  johnsonjlj 1/9/2013, 7:03 pm

I'm lucky enough to live in north Florida where we can grow throughout the winter, just covering for the few freezes we get each winter. Right now we have 3 types of lettuce, carrots, collards, broccoli, beets, cabbage, spinach & swiss chard growing. We harvested our first 2 heads of cabbage for New Year's Day lunch, are currently harvesting side shoots on all of the broccoli, and eating tons of salads. I read somewhere that if you cut an X into the cabbage stem after harvesting the main head, it will grow several smaller heads, which is what we're trying now. I tried to find pictures, to no avail. That's our latest experiment!

Judi
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Post  FamilyGardening 1/9/2013, 7:12 pm

judi.... let us know how the X marking does on your cabbage Very Happy it would be great if we could get some smaller heads after picking the big one.....

happy gardening
rose
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Post  johnsonjlj 1/9/2013, 8:10 pm

Rose, I tried to see if anyone had posted pictures of these secondary cabbage heads somewhere, but I had no luck (I googled it). They say they'll be 2-4 inches across. I cut these cabbage heads New Years Day, and this is what it looks like after 7 days:

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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 1/9/2013, 8:59 pm

If it helps others get additional harvest: after harvesting a HUGE head of filderkraut cabbage http://www.territorialseed.com/product/8780/h (with description...) in late August, I left it to fend for itself. Today I cut another head from the same stem....smaller for sure, but another head of this cabbage for salad today. Your way, cutting an "X" in the stem end, is much better than my benign neglect approach. Thanks for the idea. (as an aside: I hate when people say, as did Terratorial Seed, "one of the more unique...." If something is unique, it is one of a kind and can't be more unique, or most unique. End of rant.) Nonna
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Post  deriter 1/10/2013, 8:03 am

Thank you johnsonjlj. I had never heard of that cutting the x in the stalk. I will definitely try that this year!
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Post  johnsonjlj 1/13/2013, 6:57 am

I went out to my garden yesterday morning after a couple of days of not being home, and this is the progress on the quest for mini-cabbages! The timeline so far:
Jan 1- cut 2 cabbage heads, cut an X in the stem
Jan 7- pictures posted above
Jan 11- see photos below. Quick little buggers, aren't they?

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Now to see if they truly make little heads. We've had several days of 80 degree weather here (north Florida) and most plants are a little confused, maybe that's why they're growing so fast.
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Post  CapeCoddess 1/13/2013, 8:21 am

Gosh those little cabbages are so adorable, judi! Since I do cut and come again with my cabbages, I would have to make an x hi up on the stem. I wonder if that would work? I'll try it next time.

My first winter garden is under windows as my MM is at least 4+ inches below the top edge of the boxes. So it's kind of like cold frames...but not. geek I have scallions, chard, beets, carrots, broccoli, kale and radishes in those, but they are very tiny right now as I keep harvesting them for soup. I uncovered the boxes yesterday as the weather is 36 to 50's here for a few days. Winter Garden Questions 100_4515 Winter Garden Questions 100_4516

Still outside and alive are carrots, broccoli, kale and garlic greens. I can't say if they are really still growing or not, but when I go out every weekend for soup fixins' there always seems to be enough. The chard seems to grow, but ever so slowy. And since I cut and eat the broccoli leaves I'm not sure if they will continue to grow.

My indoor lettuce garden has completely bolted and is bitter. It's heading out to the compost pile today.

CC

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Post  Bobalu 1/14/2013, 5:54 pm

This was my first year for a winter garden, as well. I had mixed results, but it appears to be based on each individual bed's location more than anything else. When I built the beds, all were in good sunlight during the spring and summer. As the season changed, though, so did the amount of sunlight each received. Those nearest the tree line at the west side of my garden started getting more and more shade. The growth rate in these beds was obviously not as good as those beds further away from the tree line. I'm still getting veggies from all the beds, but this experience taught me a lesson. I'll probably leave the beds nearest the tree line where they are, but not use them again for fall plantings.
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Post  johnsonjlj 4/19/2013, 8:53 pm

Well, I thought I would let you know the results of my cabbage experiment! I planted cabbage transplants at the end of September and harvested the main head at the first of January. After hearing about it, I cut the X in the main stem and, as you can see in the previous pictures, small heads sprouted from the stem. I cut the older, large leaves off as the small heads grew.

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Post  Goosegirl 4/19/2013, 9:05 pm

carrot Winter Garden Questions 3170584802 okay way to go hungry drooling carrot

GG
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 4/19/2013, 9:30 pm

Wow, Johnson! Wonder if this would work here in the Pacific NorthWet. I'll try to remember to attempt your success this fall. Thanks. Nonna
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Post  jazzycat 4/19/2013, 11:04 pm

@johnsonjlj wrote:I went out to my garden yesterday morning after a couple of days of not being home, and this is the progress on the quest for mini-cabbages! The timeline so far:
Jan 1- cut 2 cabbage heads, cut an X in the stem
Jan 7- pictures posted above
Jan 11- see photos below. Quick little buggers, aren't they?

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Now to see if they truly make little heads. We've had several days of 80 degree weather here (north Florida) and most plants are a little confused, maybe that's why they're growing so fast.

That is so cool! Very Happy
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Post  kat51415 4/21/2013, 9:59 am

How do you know when to call it quits with the spring/summer plantings, especially if they seem to be doing well? I wanted a winter garden last year in my boxes, but everything was still producing from the summer. It's so hard to just murder living, producing plants to plant more for a hopeful harvest. Do you just have to steel yourself and go with the planting dates for what it is you want in your winter garden? Or make new beds for the winter if the summer is still going? Wink
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Post  CapeCoddess 4/21/2013, 10:07 am

I built another box.

CC
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