It has been a busy two months in my potager garden. Even as difficult as this year has been, I’m so excited about these next few months. My goal with this potager garden is that it will truly be a year round garden with crops being harvested every month. As little as it seems that I was able to accomplish this year, I’m seeing my garden come alive more and more every day. My garden is not slowing down at all! In fact it feels just like its early spring and I’m rushing to get seeds in the ground before it’s “too late”. I continue to harvest and plant onion sets, today I planted my first set of onion seeds, and I will be planting green beans tomorrow. The idea is that by planting the seeds now, the seeds will start growing their root base and then as the spring temperatures and light grows longer; I will have a late spring harvest of onions and beans. I will plant again in the spring for a summer harvest and then plant again late summer for a fall harvest as well. I will then plant again in the fall, starting the process all over. These crops do not need to be covered with a frost blanket or row cover but I will put about a 2 inch layer of leaf mulch over them so that the nutrients will be carried down into the soil over the winter, giving the soil a much needed supplement.
I am continuing to grow radishes in my raised feeder bed and I will continue to plant seeds as long as the soil is workable and the plants continue to grow. I want to see how long into the winter I can go and the plants continue to grow, when they start to slow down and if they start growing again in the spring. For this bed, I have a new row cover that is not as tall as last year and the fabric is made of material that is made for the winter months. What I’m hoping to see is continual growth throughout the winter with very little interruption.
The cold frame that I built didn’t work out like I expected and I decided to purchase an inexpensive one so that I didn’t have a lot invested if I decide not to use them. I will have it together and lettuce planted in it before the end of this week. My thoughts are that the cold frame will provide a warmer soil temperature for the lettuce and spinach that I want to plant in it, giving me a better outcome. I will need to get a thermometer to put into the cold frame as they can get overheated and burn your plants.
I have one other bed that I will be using this winter. I will put a row cover over this one because I’m going to try cabbage and carrots in this bed. These two crops are considered cold weather crops and should do well. I have saved several milk jugs and will be using them along with the row cover for the cabbages to see if this brings the soil to a temperature that will encourage the cabbages to continue growing over the winter. In his book; “Four-Season Harvest”, Mr. Elliot Coleman says that with every layer of cover you put over the plants it changes the growing zone by one layer. For me, being in zone 6, by using the row cover it should change the climate inside of the row cover to a zone 7 and if I use the milk jug over the individual cabbages, that should take the climate within the milk jug to a zone 8. He recommends not using more than two layers as any more layers will reduce the light too much and the plants won’t grow at all. I can’t wait to try this and see what happens.
The last crop that I am currently harvesting right now is the leaves from the trees in my yard. I will gather them up, mulch them, spread them over the flower beds, and fill the compost bin for next fall. The leaves that I gathered in the spring are now deep brown, nutrient rich mulch that I’m putting over the vegetable beds. For so long I have pictured this garden in my mind that it is tough to step back in this moment and see how far it’s come. Yes, there’s a long way to go before it looks exactly like what’s in my mind, however, it’s a start and it’s working.
A series of articles presented by Candy Horton, an OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer