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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 11:46 AM

Edith -- growing vegetables all winter long

Edith -- growing vegetables all winter long
by Edith Isidoro-Mills More and more hoop houses and greenhouses have appeared in Churchill County over the past few years.  This has allowed some local farmers to produce vegetable over the winter for local customers.   If you are a dedicated vegetable gardener, you can even grow your own. You probably won't grow tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, or sweet corn in the winter unless you have a large climate controlled greenhouse with supplemental light.  However, vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, broccoli, spinach and many other cool season vegetables will grow in unheated hoop houses and cold frames for most if not all of the winter depending on how cold it gets outside.  In fact, on the sunniest days you might have to vent the hoop house or cold frame just to cool it down. You can construct relatively inexpensive hoop houses or cold frames from wood or PVC pipe and a clear or opaque covering of glass, flexible polycarbonate, or soft UV protection treated poly. Exact construction depends of the materials available and the size of structure you want to erect.  A simple 2' tall box utilizing used storm windows and hinges will suffice for most winter vegetables.  You can ventilate your hoop house manually by checking each day and propping the lid up or with a temperature-activated arm sold by many mail order garden supply companies.  The latter is particularly nice for those gardeners who have a day job and can't stay home to check the temperature on their cold frame. The cold frame should be located on the sunny south side of the house and preferably in a location protected from strong winds. Vegetables for the winter garden may be started as early as July or as late as September depending on the vegetable.  Lettuce, which is hardy to 24°F, may be difficult to germinate in July but by September when temperatures have cooled it will germinate and be ready to eat in a month with multiple planting for extending harvest late into the fall and early winter.  Carrots, on the other hand, take almost two months to mature and should be planted by late July or early August for harvest by October.  Carrots are hardy to 15°F.  Spinach, like lettuce, is may be multi-cropped through the season and is hardy to 8°F.  In an unheated cold frame, the temperature might reach 0°F outside but the spinach most likely will survive.  You just might have spinach all winter in many parts of northern Nevada if you place you cold frame in the right location. Watering in a cold frame or hoop house must be done by hand because water freezes in automatic watering systems during the winter unless they're insulated which usually isn't practical.  The good news is with cooler temperatures watering doesn't need to be done as frequently, especially if you mulch around the vegetable.  Mulch also has the added benefit of adding even more insulation to protect the roots from cold temperatures. If you love gardening and want to eat vegetables you've raised all winter, try constructing a hoop house or cold frame.  There is no guarantee it will succeed this winter but maybe the next winter it will.  It all depends on the location of your hoop house or cold frame with respect to sun and structures that break the wind.  If the temperatures stay well below freezing for and extended time with overcast skies vegetable might not do well in you cold frame or hoop house but usually we get sufficient sun and high temperatures on most days, even in winter, go above freezing in northern Nevada.     Never miss the local news -- read more on The Fallon Post home page. If you enjoy The Fallon Post, please support our effort to provide local, independent news and make a contribution today.  Your contribution makes possible this online news source for all things Fallon.