winter garden - vegetables

winter garden - red russian kale
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).
winter garden - swiss chard
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.
winter garden - hoop house
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.
winter garden - spinach
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.
winter garden - purple sprouting broccoli
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'.


  1. damn. this is totally amazing to me! i wish i could grow stuff. when we finally have a house, and a yard, you are going to have to be my long-distance gardening guru.

  2. Kudos on your extended harvest!! Because of the change in day length & the lower growth rate of the plants, you'll find they need less water in the winter. Here in PA (where we don't get as much rain as you traditionally do), we've had great success using just plastic on the outside of the hoop house and row cover on the inside. If we put the plastic on after the fall rains have started, but before the frost starts, the existing moisture is sufficient (in our area) to maintain the plants until spring. Once we start lifting plastic for ventilation, then we run the drip hose - but during the winter, the existing moisture (held in by the plastic) is enough. Good Luck !