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

What to plant for a winter harvest

ClaytoniaEliot Coleman experimented with dozens of types of cool season vegetables to discover the ones that work best for winter harvest.  His overall winner --- and the crop to which he devotes half of his greenhouse space during the cold season --- is spinach.  I've played with spinach a bit and ended up mainly deleting it from our cycle since I felt it wasn't as cold hardy as kale, the leaves were slow to pick compared to other greens, and its germination can be quite spotty.  However, spinach has the benefit of being willing to put out new leaves all winter, while even the most cold hardy crucifers like kale just sit dormant during the darkest months.  Clearly, spinach is worth another try.

Coleman's other top winter crops are listed below:

As you can see, the majority of the winter harvest is salad and cooking greens, but anything fresh from the garden tastes better than the most carefully frozen summer bounty by February.  I've read blogs of homesteaders who nearly delete their stockpile of summer goodies, instead relying on the bounty of the winter garden to feed them during the cold months.  Although I'm not ready to give up my freezer of corn, beans, squash, and tomatoes, I hope that next year's cold season will bring more fresh food from the garden to our plates.

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This post is part of our Winter Harvest Handbook lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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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.

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