Winter Garden Begins

The fall starts are all safely in the ground and growing, and now it has been time to turn our attention to the winter garden.  The Asian greens I’d started were ready to go in the ground.  This week I planted the bekana, tatsoi, pak choy and Chinese cabbage.  I direct-seeded turnips, a dwarf snap pea that shouldn’t need trellising and daikon radishes – all things that don’t mind the shifting cool/hot season of fall down here.  Next in line are my kale, collard and kolhrabi starts in a week or so.  I even have a few cabbage, broccoli and cauliflowers that will need planted.

This fall I started seeds at 2-week intervals to find the best time to start everything.  The Asian greens can definitely be started as early as August, but everything else needed the cooler weather of September.  I think the cabbage would have done better, but a storm of mysterious caterpillars ate most of my little plants.  I’m thinking we should build a screen hoop house to start them in next year.  On the positive side, I’ve never before had starts that were nice enough to attract caterpillars!

This year I didn’t wait for the rabbits to enjoy the greens – I went ahead and swathed everything in deer netting to protect it.  The rabbit issue alone thwarted last year’s winter garden!

 I had wanted to build at least five beds on this side of October, and five more for the early spring garden.  One was ready to plant, one just needs hay and the others are in various stages of being built.

 They do look untidy in the process!  Soon it will look like a garden again.  We are running the little chicken coop tractor with our remaining five layers along to help with the over-your-head weeds.  It really helps clear the weeds and fertilizes in the process.  I wish I’d thought of it last year!  The weeds (ahem, dog fennel – I mean you!) just get so woody and unmanageable. 

In the wild remains of the summer garden the cassava is beginning to tower.  And soon it will be time to dig the sweet potatoes.

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