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The Winter Garden

by | Dec 1, 0201


Fall planted, spring blooming hardy annual garden ready to go to bed for winter.

I feel as though this is the best fall-planted, spring blooming garden we have had in a couple of years. Our fall was cool and moist, not cold and dry. And as winter is getting started it has not been the brute of years past with relentless wind and rain. All of this has worked together for the greater good of our winter garden.


Lettuce planted in October that will produce all winter. We cut and it regrows.

Our vegetable patch is pumping out lettuce, spinach and greens like a champ, we can hardly eat it fast enough. In years past—including last year with our single digits in January—this garden with only the protection of a floating row cover provided for us throughout winter. No one was more surprised than me last year to knock the snow off of the collapsed garden hoops and row cover to find rows of greens smiling back at me. Once you have eaten your way through winter you’ll never miss fall planting of greens again!

20141125_073857 Garden safely tucked to bed from deer and ferocious winter winds under hoops and row covers.

I forecast that this spring our hardy annual spring bloomers will be spectacular and in abundance! We planted pretty close to on schedule and our soil blocked transplants were at the perfect size for planting. With our fall conditions these plants hit the ground running. Then, when added in that we go the extra mile and mulch all the pathways deeply with leaves that suppresses weeds and retains moisture and top the beds off with hoops and floating row cover for deer and wind protection, well this all makes for a perfect spring garden storm. I am afraid and already dreaming of the 5 one hundred foot beds of snapdragons planted and how many stems they will produce…

20141025_181105 Snapdragon beds before pathway mulch, hoops and covers.

If you can imagine life in the winter garden for these plants that love cool-to-cold weather it all makes perfectly good sense. When planted into cool conditions to get settled in and grow roots, it creates a plant that is so healthy and hardy that it will resist disease and pests once it does warm up beyond their comfort zone. Plants are set to take off come spring; this improves health, grows more abundance and grows larger flowers or fruits.

babs ad Lisa on bendch

Lisa and Babs watching spring unfold.

During winter some folks page through magazines looking for signs of spring. I live in the presence of spring all winter. Daily, I pull on my boots, call Babs and head out the backdoor to walk my winter garden and watch spring unfold before my eyes.


Lisa Mason Ziegler is a commercial cut-flower farmer in Newport News, Virginia; she lectures and writes about organic and sustainable gardening. You can email Lisa at [email protected] , call her at 757-877-7159 or visit her website .

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