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Planting for a Four Season Harvest, Part 11 (The End)

Winter-Harvesting Crops

KaleSome few crops not only survive, but can be harvested all winter.  Parsnips taste sweeter after a frost, and I've dug up well-preserved carrots in March on the same day I was planting peas, using them before the weather warmed up.  Egyptian or other perennial bunching onions are the only year-round vegetable I know of in the North which can be used fresh almost every day.  In winter I use the lower white portions of the stalks --- there is not much green growth then --- chopping them into salads, or flavoring meat dishes and soups.  Leeks, so highly esteemed by gourmets for their delicate onion flavor, taste best when matured.  Frozen leeks thaw out perfectly, and a full-grown specimen makes two servings.

With the possible exception of carrots, all these hardy crops survive winter in the bare ground.  But a mulch of hay or leaves keeps them better, and makes it easier to dig them up.  I don't put the mulch on over the crops until the temperature holds steady in the low twenties.  I then mark the rows with tall stakes because only the plume-like foliage of the stately leeks is visible above a deep snow.

I prefer fresh vegetables --- we all do --- harvesting something daily, picking or digging up uncontaminated food, preparing and eating it the same day, sometimes within the hour.  With planning, such a year-round, 4-season harvest is possible --- even in a cold climate such as mine.

Tirrell, R.  1966, February.  Planting for a 4-Season Harvest.  Organic Gardening and Farming.

Reprinted by permission of Organic Gardening magazine.  Copyright Rodale, Inc., U.S.A.  All rights reserved.

This post is part of our Planting for a Four Season Harvest lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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