The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The most cold hardy greens

Lettuce seedlings

Dead laciniato kaleLast year at this time, we were chowing down on kale and lettuce leaves that survived the winter under quick hoops and started rebounding as the weather warmed up.  Not so in 2014.  I was able to find a handful of brussels sprouts that had been protected under the mulch for dinner Wednesday, but otherwise it's a waiting game right now.  The new lettuce I planted a few weeks ago has sprouted and some of the kale plants survived and are sending out new leaves, both of which we'll be eating in a few weeks.

In the meantime, Mark is pouting because we're down to butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and frozen green beans from last year, and both of us are used to a more rounded vegetable diet.  I'd rather wait and eat real food than expand the selection out with grocery store offerings, though.

Quick hoops

Frozen Swiss chardThe positive side of the cold winter is that it helped me get a more solid handle on the cold hardiness of various greens.  Last winter, Fordhook Giant Swiss chard survived the winter with no protection, so I thought the Swiss chard might be just as hardy as our kale.  Not so.  Swiss chard I protected with quick hoops this winter completely perished, along with the Laciniato kale, but my troopers (Red Russian and Dwarf Siberian kale) survived the subzero temperatures under their quick hoops.

Red Russian kale

I used to think of Red Russian as the more delicate of my two dependable kale varieties, but it turns out that the smaller variety did better during this excessively cold winter.  Those of you in the true north should take note and plant accordingly, although I'll admit that if we started having winters like this one more regularly, I'd follow Eliot Coleman's advice and erect a high tunnel over my quick hoops.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

My swiaa chard and salad greens were stagnet in the green house this past winter. I will need to plant more if I want to have greens through another freezing winter.
Comment by mona Fri Mar 7 08:36:33 2014
Mark's post of last week pointed out the fiddleheads. Also there are dandelion greens in my backyard (which also actually hosted a pileated woodpecker yesterday)!
Comment by adrianne Fri Mar 7 09:08:56 2014

Mom --- I've been keeping my eyes open for dandelion greens popping up, but there don't seem to be any here yet. The grass is only barely starting to grow, so maybe the dandelions need another week or two.

I know we don't have the species of ferns that people usually eat the fiddleheads of on our farm, but it's possible Christmas ferns are edible. They won't be coming up for several weeks yet, though.

More traditionally for our area, creses should be coming in soon. I noticed a few that came up as weeds under the quick hoops that I plan to consume shortly. :-)

Comment by anna Fri Mar 7 09:25:25 2014
The chard may not be completely done in. My chard often dies back to the ground without protection but often comes back in the spring. When it warms up, you may see some more chard growth.
Comment by Tisha Mon Mar 10 00:03:55 2014
Trisha --- That's what I was hoping at first, but when I went in to check out the bed, the plants were so dead they popped right out of the ground, completely rotten. :-/ So, -12 is definitely too cold for chard, even under quick hoops.
Comment by anna Mon Mar 10 08:22:50 2014

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.