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No Winter Garden

February 18th, 2010

Last year at this time I was harvesting my first batch of spinach from the garden. Notice the sun and lack of snow, we currently have around 3 feet of snow on the raised beds.

I planted some spinach last fall hoping for the same results, but the weather turned cold very early. That coupled with a really early frost delayed the growth of the spinach enough that I don’t have any to harvest at the moment (not to mention all the snow). I should still have an early spring harvest, perhaps in late March or early April if the weather warms.

Sadly I will have no mid-February harvest of spinach this year. I’ll have to buy my greens at the market.

Do you do any winter gardening?

32 Comments to “No Winter Garden”
  1. Christine on February 18, 2010 at 7:44 am

    We grow stuff pretty much year-round here. Ironically, the only time the weather seems to hurt our garden is when it gets too hot in July. We’re still eating collards out of our garden, and the broccoli is just about ready. We should be putting in spring garden seedlings any day now.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Pit-fired Bowls =-.

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  2. Ken Toney on February 18, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I started extending my gardening season this year with winter gardening. Unfortunately, we are having record snowfalls, nearly double our average amount. I built 3 hoop houses over raised beds, but they keep getting crushed and buried under the snow. Right now I have 4 feet of snow. We’re getting a break today, so I’ll dig them out. In the past, the hoops have bounced back up after I dug the snow off. I have spinach, chard, carrots, arugula and kale which I planted too late last fall. I haven’t harvested anything from them yet. They are covered good with row covers and the hoops, so I’m sure they will give me a early spring harvest, if we have a spring. This year I’m building a high tunnel greenhouse to extend my gardening season. Hopefully, it won’t get buried by the snow. Good luck with your garden and thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading it.
    .-= Ken Toney´s last blog ..Winter on the Farm =-.

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  3. Kelly on February 18, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I just learned about winter gardening this year, so I’m eager to learn more about how to do it! Any books/resources you can suggest?
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Vertigo… Again =-.

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  4. deb on February 18, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Interesting. I didn’t know that winter gardening was an option. Although, I live in northern Michigan—wonder if winter gardening is possible here. It gets pretty cold, sometimes -20 to -30. I’ll have to look into this and see if there are any options for my area.

    Reply to deb's comment

    • Susy on February 18, 2010 at 9:42 am

      I’m sure you could. I’d suggest the books in my comment above by Eliot Coleman, fantastic resources for those of us living in cold climates.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. kitsapFG on February 18, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I lost my overwintered crop of spinach this year too. I waited too long to put the grow tunnel on the very young plants and then we had a severe cold spell of several weeks in December. That was bad enough, but then to add insult to significant injury, we had a marauding rabbit this winter who got into two of the overwintered carrot patches AND manaaged to gnaw down what little was left of the baby spinachs. I attempted to salvage the patch by gettint it covered under a grow tunnel and giving it some TLC – but only a handful of plants revived in the huge bed. However, the good news it that the soil was warmed up significantly with the help of the tunnel cover and a really mild winter from January on – so the soil was almost 50 degrees when I tested it this weekend mid morning. I just got an early jump on planting the spring crop. I am keeping it under the grow tunnel since it is planted up more than month early from my normal. So no spinach for me in mid February as well – but hopefully by mid to late March. In the meantime, I have kale, chinese cabbages, and mache growing in the unheated greenhouse and carrots and and parsnips in overwintered beds that we are still harvesting from.

    Reply to kitsapFG's comment

  6. Dave on February 18, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I would have liked to have gotten spinach going in the fall but mine failed to germinate. I had to wait to get more seed. Now that the snow is melted I could probably plant some. Hopefully our temperatures will be normal soon. We’ve been 10-20 degrees below normal this month.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..How to Add Magic to the Garden =-.

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  7. Thomas on February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Sorry to hear about your spinach. I’ve been able to get a couple cuttings of spinach this winter, which was a nice treat to have in our New England weather. I sowed my seeds in early September and the plants greatly benefited from the relatively warm Fall that we experienced last year. Better luck this year!
    .-= Thomas´s last blog ..This Week’s Seed Starting Update – Part 1 =-.

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  8. Sara on February 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Sorry about your spinach, but I still find it amazing you could have a crop like that in February in Ohio in any year. It’s really amazing what the possibiltiies are in gardening.
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Can Jam February Challenge: Carrots =-.

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  9. Justin on February 18, 2010 at 10:31 am

    So, I’m curious… Spinach seeds can make it through the winter in the ground and still germinate in the spring? If so, what other veggies can do that?

    I’m a budding gardener stuck with containers for the moment but I’m hoping to have my own yard soon. :-) Info like this is great…
    .-= Justin´s last blog ..Product Review: Quick Drying Towels (Eco-Friendly) =-.

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    • Susy on February 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

      You’ll have to read up on Wintersowing. My spinach seeds germinated and were small plants last fall, which means they should survive the winter and start growing nicely as soon as it gets warm enough this spring. I’m hoping to move my cold frame over that bed when the snow melts to see if I can give them a head start on the warmth.

      check out this website for wintersowing information:

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Justin on February 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm

        Awesome. Thanks for the info!
        .-= Justin´s last blog ..Weeknight Meal: Pizza =-.

        to Justin's comment

  10. Miranda on February 18, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I second Christine’s comment. July is our bad month. Right now i’m harvesting tons of lettuce, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower, carrots, and watching little baby mustards and onion sets get bigger every day.
    .-= Miranda´s last blog ..Mini Quiches – Enough for an Army! =-.

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  11. Melissa on February 18, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I haven’t tried winter gardening, yet. But I’m feeling like it’s a definite possibility for next season. I’m so ready for it to be warm enough to plant my spring garden!!! There are few things I enjoy as much as I like getting my hands dirty. :) Melissa
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..A VERY Good Gift: Antique Singer Sewing Machine =-.

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  12. michelle on February 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

    No winter gardening yet. I usually do sow some early greens though.

    Reply to michelle's comment

  13. lo on February 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    It’s difficult to do anything even close to winter gardening here in Wisconsin (at least without the aid of hoop-houses or other contraptions). I keep some herbs indoors during the winter months (rosemary seems to do well, and lemon verbena); but I’m longing for that first indication of spring — probably in April — when I can start sowing some early greens.
    .-= lo´s last blog ..Chocolate Hazelnut Schaum Torte: A Family Recipe Revival =-.

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    • Susy on February 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      Yes, I have to have row covers & hoop houses for winter growing. I also keep herbs indoors, although my rosemary isn’t doing as well this winter. I’ll be starting some green soon for early outdoor planting.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. stefaneener on February 18, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    The fortunate part about coastal living is true four-season gardening. I think the Mediterranean folks just picked good spots. So, yes, although I’m not great at it, it’s year-round here.
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..Chitting and Kitty =-.

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  15. Diane@Peaceful Acres on February 18, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I cut some lettuce a few weeks ago before we were covered in 52″ of snow from back to back blizzards…I don’t think I’ll be in the low tunnels anytime soon, not by the looks of things. Common spring!
    .-= Diane@Peaceful Acres´s last blog ..Rebuild Your Health =-.

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  16. MAYBELLINE on February 18, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Certainly. Winter is the only time you can comfortably garden without having to rehidrate. So sad that it is gone.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Maybelline’s CSI Unsolved =-.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on February 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

      So funny how the seasons are opposite.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. the inadvertent farmer on February 18, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    No winter gardening this year…which was a big mistake on my part since our spring has come very early this year!

    Do peas planted in February count?

    Enjoy the snow, Kim
    .-= the inadvertent farmer´s last blog ..Sewing Planting Playing! =-.

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  18. risa b on February 18, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    We do.

    Maritime Northwest is in full-swing spring now, I have seen it come 60 days later than this! Trees are blooming and bees are buzzing.

    We ate up most of the things in the grow tunnel by January. Three days of hard freeze in December was hard on everything but the kale. But it’s into second crop now and we had fresh greens tonight.

    Reply to risa b's comment

  19. Lynn on February 19, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I planted spinach, chives, some pak choi, michihili, napa, and white cabbages. The spinach did not do to well, however.

    Reply to Lynn's comment

  20. sweetlife on February 19, 2010 at 1:02 am

    So sorry about your spinach, nothing beats fresh from your own garden…the weather has been harsh this year. We are from Texas so we garden all year, but we have recently moved only for 2yrs but sadly it’s a apartment-no grass!! great pics!!


    Reply to sweetlife's comment

  21. AGinPA on February 19, 2010 at 2:50 am

    I haven’t been able to get into my 2 cold frames because of all the snow but I’ve got lettuce, spinach and parsley waiting in there for me. I have one really nice cold frame that I got as a gift but the other is just some old storm windows propped together, some clear thick plastic and duct tape. Couldn’t be easier. The Coleman book is extremely helpful in knowing what to grow and when to plant it.

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  22. Sylvie on February 20, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    absolutely we winter garden in the Northern Virginia Piedmont. Up to last year it was Reemay/agrifrabrix over spinach and a few hardy greens as well as a few cold frames. Then last year we put up a solid hoophouse (2nd hand), and I am glad we did given the amount of snow we got – which crushes the Reemay and light hoops.

    We are eating fresh parcel, cilantro, mache, lettuce, frisee, swiss chard, arugula & celeriac. The spinach is outside under snow. Next year, we’ll be putting another hoophouse so we can have more: beets, carrots, parsnip, parley, parsley root, salsify, chicory, kale etc. Iots can be done.

    It also allows me to seed early salad crops & peas for the spring crop.
    I absolutely love it!
    .-= Sylvie´s last blog ..Planning for Tomatoes =-.

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  23. Alan on February 21, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Our winter garden was a failure this year. Not so much because of the weather, but bad planning and bad timing. We will do better with early spring stuff and will be rocking again by next winter. But you should check these guys out. They live over the hill from me and have been harvesting greens all winter.

    Eliot would be proud. They are showing that real people can have fresh produce from their backyard year round.

    Reply to Alan's comment

  24. Angie on October 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Hi! Are you saying that if you plant spinach seeds in the fall/early winter, that the seeds should survive and start to sprout when the snow melts in the Spring?

    I just rented a backyard and am about to dive into organic gardening and farming.

    Thanks for your great site!


    Reply to Angie's comment

    • Susy on October 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      Yep, give it a try – mine always do very well. If they don’t you’re only out a few $ for the seeds and you replant in spring.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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