Photo Tour Of The Winter Garden

This has been such a mild winter. My chard and lettuces are still going strong, along with some herbs I never would have thought to be harvestable in January, like cilantro and lemon verbena.

It’s such a treat to be able to harvest this kind of food rainbow in the dead of winter.


Scenes from around the garden as of January 8th: kale, chard, greens, cabbages, brussels sprouts and beets are still going strong, minute broccoli heads are starting to show, we’re getting 3 – 4 eggs a day, and some garden bed repair work is in our future!

How’s your winter garden growing?


  1. says

    Your winter garden is amazing! I’m envious.

    We’ve had many 50-60 degree days, very little frost and no snow this winter so far. Had Shane been home to help me, and had we any idea how mild this winter was going to be, we could have had a nice winter garden, too.

    I guess the upside is that if it stays this temperate through the rest of of the season, we’ll be putting out our spring garden REALLY early this year.

  2. Sarah says

    Mine is barren except for my strawberry plants. We have garlic in the ground but I haven’t been up there recently to see if it is sprouting yet. Oh, and we have a small blueberry bush in a pot as well.

  3. says

    That is fantastic! I keep meaning to ask you, what have you had success with planting in shady to partly shady areas. I built a garden bed in a spot that really only gets 6 hours of sunlight due to a very tall tree. Nothing ever seems to grow there. (I’m in Portland, OR so we are in the same climate zone).

    • says

      Hi Sarah, – leafy greens are your friend. Lettuce, chard, kales, collards, parsley, spinach, mustard greens, etc. will all give you a harvest on 6 hours of sun a day, but will be slower to come to size. Don’t try anything fruiting, like tomato, beans, etc. If you won’t blind the neighbors, you can also bump up the light levels in a particular bed a bit by propping up reflective stuff on the north and east sides of the bed. I’ve used tin foil and those reflective silver screens designed to keep the sun out of your car windshield in my greenhouse for this. But if NOTHING ever grows, I’d also look at soil and possibly competition from those big trees. I garden next to a cedar hedge and have to dig out buckets of cedar roots annually from the beds nearest the trees.

      • Max Morgan says

        Erica – Great tip on the tin foil car dash cover protectors. I hadn’t thought of that for getting some extra reflected sunlight in some of my low light growing beds. I’ll have to run a side-by-side test . . . one with, one without, to see how effective they are. It makes sense though.

  4. Erin Middlebrooks says

    This is probably a stupid ‘newbie’ question. I live just north of you in Sidney BC. I am going to install plastic over some of my raised beds for next winter. My question is, do you need to get water in there for the plants? I assume so, and if you do, do you use a hose or soaker hoses? I’m really new and trying to get things right!!

    • says

      Erin – it depends. I have soaker hoses on each of my beds all the time. When I plastic mulch for heat retention (plastic *on* the soil) I run the soakers right under the plastic for summer irrigation. When I cloche (plastic tunnels over the beds) for winter, the soaker is still there, but I usually turn the irrigation off, so it’s not doing anything. Here’s why: in my area, there is often so much sub soil moisture that it acts as a sort of reservoir that is wicked up thru capillary action to the shallower layers of soil. Since the plants aren’t actively growing and have little to no heat stress, they just don’t need much water, and what they need they can get from this subsoil reserve. This does not apply to the most shallow rooted plants and seedlings, which will appreciate some irrigation in the form of occasional rains or a gardener’s hand.

  5. says

    WOWZA! I am completely impressed with that (ongoing) harvest.

    My lone hoophouse is not doing nearly so well. In fact, it appears to be mostly bug (or unidentified eater) food. What’s your pest control secrets?

    Now, Im think about taking the plastic of. Hrmmm..

    • says

      Dogs – First pest control secret is figure out what’s eating your plants. ;) In my garden slugs and snails are the biggest problem, particularly at this time of year. Sluggo is quite effective, organic, and I feel fine about using it. What kind of “bite marks” are you seeing, and what’s being eaten?

      • says

        Thanks for your reply! I was using sluggo in the summer/fall. Mixed results, or maybe I just wasnt using it consistently enough…? How often should I be applying?

        Right now the cauliflower and cabbage starts are mostly decimated. The leaves look like lace from all the holes, if that makes sense. They seem to have eased up on my spinach, but here’s a picture of what it looked like when it was being ravaged.

        Only thing that seems to make an impact at all is liberal application of Neem oil. Again, just not sure how often I should be putting it on.

        • says

          I replied on your blog, but here’s my response for posterity. I’ve never used Neem, so I can’t speak to it’s application frequency:
          Oh that’s not that bad. Yeah, that looks like slug damage, but that’s fairly minor. Your plants can definitely grow past that kind of damage. If they are still about that size, in winter stasis, with that amount of chewing, you’ll probably see a big growth push in February followed by relatively quick bolting as the days lengthen. Sluggo consistently will knock down your slug population, as will baiting and snipping through the summer. If you pick the leaves for cooking and just wash them well, the slug holes will be totally unnoticeable in the finished (cooked) dish.

          • says

            Interesting. I’m going to take pics of the cabbage and cauliflower for you to look at if you don’t mind. You are SO much more helpful than the master gardener I emailed, I gotta say.

            So Thank you. Note: to self: Buy stock in Sluggo parent company.

          • Max Morgan says

            Before I go to bed, I do nightly slug patrol with a flashlight. When I see the little bastards I give ‘em snip with a small pair of scissors. After a couple of weeks, they’re mostly gone. I call it my “rendition” program.

  6. says

    Well, yeah, so…my garden full of weeds is just booming right now! And my 6 head of kale.

    I aspire to have my winter/fall garden look like that. There is always next year.

  7. Melanie says


    I’ve more recently started reading your blog. In fact, I’m new to regularly reading blogs in general. I love your posts and am glad to have found your blog. A little about me: I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Professionally I teach yoga and am a massage therapist. These days I am mostly at home taking care of the homestead. My hubby is a chef. On our 1/9 acre homestead we garden our entire lot. Our garden consists of numerous annual beds, lots of perennials (herbs, fruit trees, bushes, and canes, flowers ), and a roof-top garden chicken coop housing our best garden workers (6 hens). In the basement we start seeds, house our 5 English Angora Rabbits, and several vermiculture bins that are turning the rabbits’ manure and urine into even richer fertilizer. ( I spin and knit/crochet the wool from the rabbits.) Well, that’s the basics not including what goes on in the kitchen. It’s nice to meet you.

    To answer your question about our winter garden we have a lot growing under our hoop houses. It has been a mild winter here, with only one snow fall so far. We’ve got: chard, kale, beets, carrots, parsley, cilantro, green onions, daikon radishes, red globe radishes, arugula, escarole, mustard greens and 2-3 eggs a day.

    Happy Homesteading!

    • says

      CJ – You gotta see my friend’s dad’s garden. It’s rural, so he included an elevated deer blind. He gardens for venison. You’d like it.

  8. says

    Mighty fine winter garden Erica! It has been super mild but it’s not over yet, you never know…
    I just listened to the grow your grub interview with you from last month. You give a great interview! I appreciated your awareness and concern for the larger picture. Thanks as always, Gregory

  9. says

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    reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this.
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