What is Overwintering Your Garden
Overwintering is the process of creating a safe dormant state for your plants during the winter months. There are several ways to do this, but the best way for you depends on what you are growing and your winter weather conditions.
Just like we love to be nice and cozy under a blanket during the winter, our vegetables do as well. Burying our plants in a thick layer of mulch is just like putting a nice warm blanket over them. The mulch will help so the soil does not freeze and the plants go into a grow state. When the ground starts to warm up around the plants, they start producing. Basically, if it is done right, overwintering is prolonging the plants life by putting it into an inactive state for a few months and slowly reactivating it.
If you are going to overwinter your vegetables, you need to be sure that they are tough and hardy enough to handle a cold winter. Root veggies tend to be hardy enough, as well as some cold leafy greens. Spinach, kale even certain kinds of lettuce have proved to be tough enough for overwintering.
Rooted vegetables should be planted early enough in the spring to have had a full-sized harvest by the middle of November.
How To Overwinter Your Garden
One of the simplest ways to overwinter is to choose a section of your garden to be used. Cover that section with five to six inches of mulch. This mulch could be something like fallen leaves that have been chopped up finely or pine needles. You could even use newspapers if you layer them on thick. In the early spring, once the mulch thaws, you simply clear it away and your veggies will spring back to life. You will see your first harvest long before your spring sow even germinates.
Another way to overwinter is to simply sow your salad greens late in August or early September. Thin them down as they begin to germinate. At the first sign of frost, cover them with a thick layer of mulch and they will produce fresh veggies for your salads early in the spring.
There are several other ways to help keep your plants producing fresh vegetables throughout the year, but you do not want to overwinter the same section every year as the soil will be completely drained of vital nutrients. Choose your sections wisely.
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