Last year I decided to give winter gardening a try. Why not? I had the empty garden space and some good resources ('A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide' by Carolyn Herriot and the West Coast Seeds catalogue).
I figured that even though we usually have mild winters here on Vancouver Island, I should give my garden some sort of protection. I'm glad I did. We have record breaking snowfall in December and, damn, it was cold.
After a little research, I decided to construct a mini hoop house out of PVC piping and row cover fabric. The pipes are attached to the sides of my raised beds by 'U' shaped electric plastic tubing clamps. This allows for easy removal of the hoop house when not in use. I could only find row cover fabric that was 3' wide, so I bought that and sewed 3 stripes of it together - my fabric piece is 9'x12' and is plenty big enough to cover my hoop house. I did consider using plastic as a cover (this was recommended by a couple sources), but decided on the fabric, as I did not want to worry about my plants getting enough water. This set up has worked well.
We enjoyed freshly picked lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, beets, cilantro, and bok choi from September to November. The cold and snow stopped us from harvesting anything in December and January and killed off the lettuce, cilantro, and most of the bok choi.
A couple of days ago I did a clean up in my sweet winter garden and was so pleased to see new growth on the spinach, swiss chard, kale, and purple sprouting broccoli. Spring is a comin'.