Cool Weather Garden TraditionsOct 04, 2023
You probably have those special traditions that remind you of childhood or of loved ones and times gone by. Some of mine from my childhood are roasting marshmallows in the fireplace or delivering Avon with my Maw Maw. Of course playing Barbies with my sister, the sink was the swimming pool. Oh and puzzles. My mom always had a puzzle going. So as we passed through the house it would call to us, and we would stop in and put a piece here or there.
Some that I have loved to carry out with my own children are our decorating days! Fall decorations up the weekend after Labor Day, Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, and birthday mornings. Oh man! We have the entire kitchen decorated for the birthday morning! So fun!
Did you know that the garden has her own traditions too? Today I want to share some cool weather garden traditions that you may have never realized but that you definitely want to know about for your garden this season.
First, understanding that "cold weather" crops are not looking to grow in freezing temps. This is a huge misconception. These guys still want moderate daytime temps, but they can tolerate some chilly nights. So it is important to get these guys in the ground NOW. You don't want to wait for the cold weather to plant them, as you will see here today. Instead you want the cold weather to do its work for your best harvest.
First Cold Snap
Not the first frost but that first dip in temperatures that lets us know fall is here. In South Louisiana it may be right back to the mid 80's the next day, as our temps can fluctuate 40-50 degrees in 24 hours, but once we see that first cold snap, we typically don't see the 100's or 90's any more after that. This cold snap is going to trigger growth in our newly planted veggies!! They will take off, so make sure that you have your garden planted before we get this first cold night of the season.
The first frost is the first time temps are in the mid-30's and we have that thin layer of ice crystals on our cool season veggies. This first of the season really sweetens up our veggies, so again get your plants in the ground now, so that they can be growing and forming heads before the frost arrives. And don't pick winter squash until after a frost. This will help it keep much longer for you indoors, and it will enhance the flavor!! We say that our veggies are "kissed" by frost, and believe me they are so much tastier after that smooch!
Also, make sure that you cover any tender babies that are just sprouting. While the plants are cold hardy, new growth, and baby seedlings are not! Cover them with a layer of mulch or leaves, and they will be fine.
First Harvest of Greens
A pot of collards just signals cold weather to me. Oh man, so delicious. Remember when picking your leafy greens, do it often and always leave 1/3 of the plant behind so that it will keep growing.
Planting greens in multiple spaces in your yard is always a great move because you can take a little from several spots in your garden meaning you will never have an empty spaces. It keeps the garden beautiful all season. Trust me. You will never notice that you have even picked! It is amazing how full these leafy greens get.
Also, succession planting is always a great idea with leafy greens to as you can always have something ready to pick. Swiss Chard, collards, mustard, they are my go to side dishes all season. When you have them always at the ready, you can have supper in minutes!! Fill in all the empty spaces with them!
You want as many cold weather veggies as possible because cold hardy veggies are loaded with germ fighting nutrients. Vitamin A, C, D, antioxidants, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties abound in these guys. It is amazing how in the warmer months our veggies and fruit are made up of up to 90% water. We need hydration in those months. And now, in the cold season, we need vitamins and nutrients, and our gardens supply it all, ten fold, and get us into the sunshine to boot. You would almost think it was supposed to be that way! If there was ever a reason to grow a garden, this is it. You have your own backyard medicine cabinet right outside your doors, and trust me, you will want it for cold and flu season.
Keep your family healthy this season in my brand new class Building A Winter Apothecary as I build my own winter medicine cabinet, and I will show you how to do it too.
What you'll learn:
- What is an apothecary
- The benefit of having an apothecary
- How to create healing remedies from herbs that you can grow and purchase already dried
- How to use essential oils to stay healthy
- How to create teas and tinctures for cold and flu season
- How to store and use the remedies you create
This course comes with a supply list and recipe book, so you have everything you need to stay healthy this season.
Save your seat for this LIVE CLASS now at www.releaseyourinnerwildchild.com/fallofferings.
More To Grow
Looking ahead to more that we can grow, we turn our attention to garlic, onions, strawberries, and asparagus, snap peas, and our cold hardy annuals. There is still so much to grow as the weather cools down.
Garlic and onions are the perfect crop for winter because they do not need to be covered in a frost or freeze until temps reach 20 degrees. This is excellent for backyard gardeners who might find themselves doing other things indoors when the temps drop.
And strawberries and asparagus are dormant during the winter months, so they are oblivious to the changing temps. We tuck them in at the beginning of winter and just wait for them to sprout in spring. The same is true for winter bulbs like tulips and daffodils. It is magic!!
And peas of all kinds will grow like crazy on all of your empty trellises and arches this season! There is so much left to grow, can you believe it??
The tradition here is that you want to order your garlic, onions, winter bulbs, strawberries, and asparagus by Halloween. Companies sell out and as more and more people are beginning to take back their food responsibility the supply is less and the demand is more. In fact, this year when ordering onions, I was shocked at how slow the website was that I was ordering from. Then they posted that they were experiencing extremely high traffic and asked customers to please be patient. Wow! For onions! It made me so happy. People are taking back their food responsibility! This is a good problem for us all!!
Just make sure you order them early and keep your garlic and onions in a cool dark, dry space until planting. Keep your bare root strawberry plants and asparagus in the refrigerator, and make sure your onions don't dry out. You may find that you need to drop their roots in a little water to keep them vibrant if you choose a delivery date that is much earlier than when you plant. And as for your peas, direct sow them when the night time lows are consistently in the 60's and the day time highs are consistently in the 80's. Those days are coming, so have your seeds ready!
To learn how to grow all of these amazing cold weather crops, check out these classes offered right now!
All of the details for these fall classes can be found HERE. And if you want to learn more about cool weather garden traditions, check out this week's podcast HERE where I dig in more to this exact topic.
I hope that you are gearing up for the first cold snap. For us, it is coming this weekend. I have a few traditions up my sleeve like the first gumbo of the season, but my garden will be ready too. I have my cold weather veggies growing. I might even get to pick some radishes! We will see!! What I know for sure is that our lives are marked by seasons, and the garden leads the way! This season is, in my life, one of letting go and slowing down. What about you? We talk more about traditions in the fall issue of In Season, which is available for you to purchase right now. This issue is full of all things cozy! We know you will love it!! Get your copy HERE!