Winter Garden Design!
Winter veggies are some of the most nutritious, well worth growing!
Any garden design starts with where the garden is! It can be part of your ornamental landscape, an area set aside in your yard – front, back, side, at a Community Garden, many places – even a ‘stolen’ spot along a street! If you are planting at home, creating an edible landscape, remember, it can be beautiful and nutritious. You can use as little or as much space as you like. When we say things like ‘Food Not Lawns,’ you choose how much space you want to use for food, for your lawn, if any, whether you want box raised beds, or less intrusive looking mounds or terraced areas. You are the creator!
If you haven’t already done, now is the time to think on how to design your garden for your winter veggie garden needs! How will you get the best out of your available area? If you are an experienced gardener, what can you do differently this year? Your design can be as simple as the one below, or you can check online for wonderful design sites!
For heat capture, the ideal is the Food Forest layout! Have a perimeter of trees in a U shape with the opening to the south. Read Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway! Or plant right next to the warm house! Greenhouses are lovely. Even small ones, or DIY cold frames are a blessing!
Sun/Shade Winter veggies enjoy full sun just like summer veggies! If you don’t have room for a Food Forest, generally the rule is tall to the north, short to the south. If you have shade, then tall goes into the shaded area, short and shorter in front of them.
Wind Strategies: Plant cold tolerant fruit tree with berry shrub borders on their sunny side, on the side the wind comes from. For small areas, use straw bales for the same effect, or erect a board enclosure. If you will be growing vining peas, use your trellises as windbreaks, being sure to stake them securely. On a balcony or deck, put tall box planters with trellises along the area the prevailing wind comes from. Secure them well too!
• Design for good drainage, avoid planting in areas that flood. Even water loving veggies don’t like wet feet! But, if that’s the only area you have, install raised beds, or rock lined bioswales to slow, spread, and sink water to improve your water table.
• Plant on top of mounds and furrows (tops flattened), mulching the sides to reduce erosion, water gently so the mulch doesn’t wash away.
• On hillsides, plant just inside the top of the outer rim of the raised lip of the terrace, mulch well, water gently. Fill the lower inside of the terrace with cobble to slow rainwater, prevent erosion.
• On high areas, dig out the center and if you need to, use that soil to raise the perimeters to capture water for water-loving plants – lettuces, chard, carrots, bunch onions. Add some sand to improve drainage if needed.
Freezes?! If your area has freezes, pick a windy location that keeps cold winter air moving. Remove perimeter shrubs that stop air flow. And get out your floating row covers! You can use them to extend your fall harvests and start spring plants sooner too!