Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Raising Winter Greens

I attended the DC Urban Gardeners/Washington Gardener Magazine/DC Historical Society session on raising winter greens presented by farmer at Even' Star Organic Farm, Brett Grohsgal. The husband tagged along.

It was really informative! And entertaining.

Here is what I learned (or was reminded):

  • Your soil is your biggest investment in the garden.
  • Veggies, on the whole, like to be well-drained.
  • Snow? Not a problem. Iced over snow? Also not a problem. Freezing wind? Big problem.
  • DO NOT plant greens in late August. (ah! My procrastination paid off!) The bugs will eat your little sprouts before they can have a chance. Best to plant greens in late September.
  • Good fall crops for this area are: arugula, mustard, turnips, collards, kale and radishes. Lettuces, dandelion and raddicchio can be successful as well.
  • Chinese Thick-Stem Mustard is apparently pretty good.
  • Southern Expsoure Seed Company and FedCo are good seed companies for this area.
  • Rules of Raising Winter Greens in DC Area:
  • Sow Sept 3-Oct 15th
  • Water frequently (to get good roots. Every 3 days unless it rains)
  • Thin when seedlings have 6 leaves
  • Fertilize using fish emulsion, 1/2-3/4 strength
  • Use leaf mulch to insuluate
  • Channel 7 has the best forecasts
  • RADICAL Winter Planting: If you dare....
  • For lettuces, peas, carrots
  • Work AS SOON as the ground has thawed enough (there's generally a freeze-thaw-freeze cycle here)
  • January 28-March 15: Direct sow crops. High mortality rate so plant lots
  • This doesn't work very well for braassicas or transplants other than onions & leeks.

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