It’s not a common sensation to be sweating in November, but this year, we are finding ourselves experiencing some amazing fall weather, even for temperate Virginia. For those who were with the program and got a good round of fall crops planted between August and September, this weather is undoubtedly making your lettuce, arugula, peas and spinach very happy. But what about the rest of us? How many people know that you can harvest well into December and January, and enjoy all the best salad ingredients? Did you know you can grow cover crops, ideal for compost ingredients as well as their numerous soil building properties, right through the winter?
If you didnt get to start a garden this year and still want to, there is plenty of work to do all winter long in preparation for the spring. Try out some of these ideas over the next few months and let us know if you have any questions!
- November – PLANT GARLIC! Find a nice sunny spot with well-drained soil and dig a 3×6 ft bed. Take the clove of seed garlic (you can use garlic from the grocery store, just keep in mind it has most likely been treated, unless you are buying for a guaranteed source) and turn it upside down, so the rooted end is going into the earth. Plant 2-3″ deep and 6 inches apart on offset spacing for maximum productivity. Then, spread a layer of compost and mulch (straw, leaves, etc) over the bed and water lightly. Garlic takes over 180 days to mature, so be patient. If you need to get Garlic seed FAST, check out Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, located in Louisa County.
- December – START A COMPOST PILE! Clean out your gutters, save all of your leaves, hedge your bushes, clean your pond! Compost ingredients are everywhere this time of the year, not to mention going into your trash can every day from table scraps and left-over leftovers. As long as you balance the nitrogen (wet, green materials) and carbon (dry, brown materials) are in equal proportion, and you need to add soil or compost to the mix (only about 5-10% of the total volume), you wont have that nasty smell so many people fear accompanies a compost pile
- January – MAKE A GARDEN MAP! Plan out your beds now so you don’t plant the wrong things at the wrong time in the wrong place! Having a garden plan will help you save money on seeds as well as prevent any opportunity to accidentally have an empty bed in between seasonal plantings. Check out the folks at Home Place Earth; Cindy Conner is a farmer and a former market gardener turned educator of sustainable agriculture. She has produced and starred in a movie about compost crops, and is currently finishing up her second movie, ALL ABOUT GARDEN PLANNING!
- February – START SEEDS! You can do this inside, outside in cold frames, in a green house or in jars (if you just want to eat them). The most successful and well-fed gardeners and farmers start their seeds early and take good care of them until they are ready to go into the ground. If doing them inside, keep in mind that they will need to be watered regularly and need 4-7 hours of sunlight as soon as they have sprouted. If you just want to watch seeds sprout, check out this resource on sprouting!
- March – CALL BACKYARD FARMER! It’s time to dig!
If you want more ideas for winter gardening, just give us a call or write to us!