There is nothing like stepping into your garden in December and getting a tasty treat! Winter gardens are my favorite, as they provide nutritious food when stores are relying heavily on imported and/or stored produce. There is something about cooler temperatures and light frosts that make vegetables sweeter, especially carrots. Almost all regions of the United States can experience some form of winter gardening, and the time to plant one is almost gone.
Winter gardening often takes two forms: planting crops for winter harvest and planting crops to overwinter for early spring harvest. Now that September is almost half-way over, winter gardeners need to get busy! It is time to plant arugula, cabbage, corn salad, legumes, lettuce, mustard greens, and radish seeds; however, corn salad, lettuce, and mustard greens enjoy a little covering or cloching to extend the harvest. It is also possible to transplant broccoli, cauliflower, and collards for winter and spring harvests. For other areas of the garden, cover cropping in the fall will prevent erosion and boost nitrogen content.
My favorite crop to grow in the winter is garlic, which can be planted at the end of this month and into October. Garlic is amazing, as it slowly grows through the wintertime. In addition, there are some plants that are only harvested in the winter, such as Jerusalem artichokes. These high-potassium roots are native to the United States, and they make a great winter treat roasted with olive oil and garlic. It is fun to dig Jerusalem artichokes out of the snow covered earth and be thankful for their winter bounty.