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An Experiment: Winter Gardening in the Frigid North

I have been searching, and searching, and searching for a resource on three season gardening in the north.  I realize that I won't be able to grow anything in the depths of winter, when it's well below zero and there is six feet of snow on the ground.  However, one of the blogs I follow was able to harvest from her winter garden in Michigan until after Christmas.  So, I figure with a good cold frame and the right varieties of plants, I can extend my own harvest.

But I don't know what I'm doing, and other than this one blog (Nourishing Days, one of my faves, reported harvesting greens) I have no sources.  I don't like uncharted territory because I don't like wasting time or money.  I don't like the idea of putting a lot of myself into something that might completely fail.  But lacking resources, how else am I going to find out if it could be done?

So, here is my plan.  Yesterday I planted short season lettuces and cold loving greens like kale and chard.  I'm going to plant some more carrots as well today or tomorrow as carrots, even if they don't get very big, will keep in the garden over the winter.  Soon I will plant some garlic, as well, which needs to overwinter, and I'm going to experiment with some bunching onions to see how they overwinter.  I'm also going to plant some turnips and beets, which should also keep well in the soil if I don't get around to harvesting and storing them.  Yeah, no one loves turnips, but they will be a nice change from potatoes in the winter and the tops are great for chickens (high in protein!).  And speaking of chickens, I also plan to plant most of the rest of the garden with legumes as cover crops- alfalfa, clover, and field peas, and in the late fall and spring will cut some of the protein rich crops to feed my chickens.  If I am super industrious I may even cover one bed of cover crops with a very loose cold frame (as they do need the cold) in the late winter so I can extend the harvest and get greens to my chickies as far into the winter as possible.

And at the very least the progress or utter failure will give me something to blog about into the winter:)

I also plan on picking up a few of these books:


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