While the colder months aren’t typically associated with growing produce, there is an efficient way to extend the growing season until autumn and winter — the use of a greenhouse.
Aside from that, a greenhouse also helps protect plants when they are most fragile, and it opens up a wider range of options for gardeners.
Growing Produce in Autumn and Winter
Although plants in a winter greenhouse will not grow as fast as they do in the summer, you only need to be patient as you will soon see them thrive.
Not only will you save essential cash on your weekly groceries, but you’ll also be helping the environment a bit.
And since cultivation in autumn and winter will be different from the original growing seasons, you need to know the proper methods in using a greenhouse and which plants to start.
1. Winter lettuce
If you are a fan of vegetable salads, you can plant a couple of hardy lettuce that grows well in a winter greenhouse or poly-tunnel during the cold months, like the Arctic King.
Varieties such as the Little Gem can be sown in the greenhouse in October and then transferred into trays when the plants are big enough.
There is also no need to wait until the lettuces have formed hearts, you can start harvesting them when the leaves are big enough to be added on a salad. But, you can still leave some to continue growing as hearted lettuce and then cut as required.
Most early potatoes are grown in old plastic buckets, large containers of any kind or a flowerpot.
However, they can take up a quite larger space on your greenhouse floor. Don’t worry because the taste of early home-grown organic potatoes will make everything worthwhile.
If you ever need more working space in the greenhouse, you can move the potatoes out provided that the weather isn’t frosty. You should, however, return them inside at night.
When you sow pea seeds in mild areas during autumn, you can produce a crop in late spring. It could even be earlier if you are starting them in an unheated greenhouse.
Sow each seed an inch deep and place them at approximately an inch away from each other as well to make up for a higher loss rate.
4. Broad beans
Broad beans sown in autumn will be ready a month earlier than those planted in April. They are also less prone to black fly infestation.
Some great autumn varieties include Aquadulce Claudia (AGM) and Super Aquadulce.
For some useful herbs, you can pot up chives, parsley and mint in autumn and continue growing them in the greenhouse all winter. You can plant up several pots for each herb so you can harvest them in succession for a continuous supply.
You can start planting carrots in autumn and expect some harvest as soon as the ground thaws. If you are experiencing mild winter weather and the ground thaws once or twice before spring, you can check your carrots as they might be ready.
Despite this, the variety makes a huge difference so make sure to plant an extremely cold-hardy type.
Depending on the variety, kale is a cold-hard vegetable that can survive temperatures down to -6°C. Once it gets colder than that, you will need to provide this plant with some heat for it to continue growing or wait until the outside temperatures rise and it will resume the process of development.
You can plant several successive crops of kale to have an easy supply all-year-round.
Squash plants benefit from being started in a greenhouse so that as soon as the outside temperature rises, they can be transplanted. Without prior time to grow, a lot of squash varieties won’t have enough time to come to maturity in short-season.