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Winter Gardening Plants

Winter gardening can help you keep your crops in good shape in cold climate conditions. Gardening during summer is one thing but as soon as the cold weather starts you need to keep a couple things in mind.

First only a certain number of crops can handle very cold weather so you need to make a list of the crops that you know can survive a rough winter. Second do not forget to cultivate things that you enjoy eating otherwise you won't be exactly thrilled to take care of them. Finally there are several methods that you can use to protect your crops and enhance their chances for surviving.

Winter Vegetables

Winter crops have a very high chance of enduring winter conditions, however, it also depends on the general area and how cold it gets. Northern areas normally experience harsher conditions than its southern counterparts making it harder for the crops. If you really want your crops to get through the winter you have to be sure they are fully matured before the first freeze otherwise there is a high probability that your crops won’t be there once spring arrives. The maturity of winter vegetables can vary; as some can achieve it after a month of planting while others take up to 3 months.

Crops that mature in a month include that could be considered winter vegetables: radishes, broccoli, lettuce and spinach. They should be planted around September.

Flowering broccoli plant

You can also find vegetables that mature in 2 months like: turnip, leek and collards. The best time to plant these is around August.

The ones that take the longest to mature (3 months) include: carrots, beets, cabbages and brussels sprouts. Although potatoes are not normally grown during winter season it may be possible to still grown them using winter gardening methods like greenhouses and mulching.

Gardening methods

There are some techniques in winter gardening plants that can allow you to maintain your crops warmer. 

- One of the most popular instruments used to grow crops on winter is the greenhouse.

Greenhouses are structures similar to buildings where plants are grown. They generally have plastic or glass roofs to allow sunlight inside. That sunlight heats the greenhouse keeping the temperature inside relatively warm. The stored heat allows all kinds of crops to grow normally protecting them from harsh winters and pests.

- Another way to grow crops in winter is by the means of raised beds. 

Raised beds are basically wide beds of soil that go above the soil by more than 6 inches and are enclosed in a frame. They can be made from different materials like untreated wood, stone, concrete and bricks. Other ways to make raised beds may include the use of old tires. You can stack 2 of them together which can increase the temperature of the soil by more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12° C). That difference in temperature can make a big impact on the planted winter vegetables.

- Mulching is great way to protect crops in winter gardening. 

In the mulching process a cover is placed over the soil which can prevent the growth of weeds, help keep the moisture in the soil, provide necessary nutrients and reduce erosion during winter. Organic materials are great for winter mulching some of them are: wood chips (can preserve soil moisture and suppress grass growth, however, it consumes nitrogen compounds of the soil which can be compensate by using nitrogen rich fertilizers), peat moss (can lower ph of soil) and leaves from oak trees (keeps the moisture in the soil and protect plants from freezing). The layer used for mulch should be around 1 or 2 inches thick and should be removed as soon as spring begins to allow sunlight reach the soil.

- Cold frames can also make quite a difference in winter gardening plants.

They are small structures that can be easily called mini greenhouses. The walls of the cold frame are typically made of wood and the roof can be glass or clear plastic. The normal measurements of a cold frame are 18 inches at the back and 12 inches at the front. The glass roof has a slope that allows the rain to run down plus it provides a great angle to receive the sun light. These structures frequently face south to be exposed to as much sunlight as possible. The roof has to be partially opened to provide some ventilation during warm days. Winter gardening can be fun and very rewarding if done the proper way.

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