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Tiny Home Living Blog

The Goal Of Winter Gardening

The goal of winter gardening is to extend your growing and harvesting season beyond the warm and pleasant days of summer. This allows you to have fresh vegetables from your garden throughout the winter. The key to a successful winter garden is choosing the right plants, planting seasons, and having adequate infrastructure.

Choosing the right plants

Here is a condensed list of some of the easiest items that you can grow in the winter season.

- Carrots

- Broccoli

- Cauliflower

- Lettuce (Greens)

Planting Seasons

The best time to start planting these crops is in August, to allow for enough growth for them to survive the cold winter months. 80% of your growth should happen before December. 

Adequate Infrastructure 

The goal of creating adequate infrastructure is to cover your plants enough so that they can survive the winter. This can be as simple as covering your carrots with a bedding of old hay or straw. Before the winter, we like to harvest our carrots and bury them in a trench. We place a cloth row cover (or any other drainable cloth) in the trench, then place the carrots on top of the cloth and cover them with the other half of the cloth, like tucking your children into bed. Next, we cover the trench with hay or straw to keep the carrots from freezing. This allows you to retrieve your carrots whenever you need them without having to dig them up in the middle of winter. It also keeps your carrots from freezing, leaving them fresh and ready to add to your chicken noodle soup or a casserole. 

Another method to create adequate infrastructure for your plants is to build a simple wooden frame to hold a clear plastic sheet over your crops. This plastic can be purchased at a local hardware store or greenhouse. The plastic will protect your plants from the winter elements and also radiate warmth from the sun.

If you have a south-facing window close to the ground, you can create a small greenhouse right inside your home. Our family built a raised bed with oak boards outside one of our basement windows and filled it with soil. We then built a slanted frame over the raised bed and covered it with plastic to act as a greenhouse. By attaching plastic to the underside of your frame and to the exterior, you create an air space that helps insulate the area. By removing the windows, you allow the warmth from your house to help keep your small greenhouse heated. It is important that you use a south-facing window to build your small greenhouse because that is the direction the sun shines during the winter season.

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