I’m “calling it” now… Last night was DFW’s last freeze of this horrific Winter. At least, it had better be! While Aaron and I were, once again, covering our Winter garden/Spring garden to save our precious plants from freezing, I was reflecting on the past Winter and what we can do in the future to save more plants (and our backs).
Overall, we need a better way to cover the plants. We used heavy moving blankets from the box store that kept the plants surprisingly warm. After the initial frost, we had few casualties, even with single digit temperatures and freezing pipes on our house. Here are some ideas I’ve gathered from the internet (follow me on Pinterest) to consider for next year:
Here’s an awesome greenhouse on top of a square foot garden. This seems fairly easy, relatively inexpensive, and can be removed at the end of winter. This great idea is courtesy of SwingNCocoa.
How about this cheap and easy cold box from hay and old windows? The sun creates enough heat to warm the plants and the hay acts as an insulator. This would be easy to remove at the end of Winter, as well. This great idea is courtesy of Appalachian Feet.
Here’s another great example of a cold frame compliments of VegetableGardener.com. Greg used Christmas lights to heat the inside of the box 20 degrees. This is a great use for those lights that are taking up room in your garage/attic/shed. Sweet!!
Aaron and I also attended the local garden show and heard a 30 minute speech by a local winery-owner-fabulous-gardener. As she was blowing my mind with awesome information, I was frantically taking notes. One of the things she said about Winter gardening in North Texas is to always have a cover crop. I looked at Aaron and said, “A what?” Yep. Apparently, your soil should never be exposed to the elements, so cover crops do exactly what their namesake implies– they cover. They also replenish essential nutrients into the soil. She also mentioned covering/mulching the garden with wheat hay because it breaks down– unlike regular field hay.
If you don’t know what the heck a cover crop is either, check out these photos and click on the link for more in-depth information:
Mustard– great information via Chiot’s Run.
Red clover– photo via Grow Veg.
Other ideas include oat, winter rye, and buckwheat.
After this Winter, we’re placing the following plants in the gardening “penalty box”:
- Squash- It died so early, I don’t even remember planting it.
- Cabbage (Bonnie Hybrid-Bonnie’s Best)- Beautiful plants, but never produced a cabbage head. No one likes head-less cabbage. Boo.
- Lacinto Kale- I kept waiting for the plants and/or leaves to get big enough to eat, but they never did. Now they are what I affectionately call “compost”.
- Cauliflower (White Cloud)- We got two very small heads of cauliflower about a month apart. Not even enough for dinner. We had better results when we pinned the leaves together over the head. I guess it needs privacy?
We also took the advice of one local nursery and planted tomatoes in March. They died. You plant too late, you get no fruit. You plant to early, you get death. Maybe next year we’ll have better results if we use the ideas I’ve given above.
Alright you guys– enough about us. How did your Winter garden grow? Tell the truth now. 😉