›› Kayla Siefried

Welcome summer! It’s been here a while and you’ve likely been enjoying the bounty from your garden and farmer’s markets. And, as much as you may not like to ­conjure up an image of winter… the rains, cold temperatures, and short days will be with us in no time. Lucky for us we live in one of the very best places in Canada for fall, winter, and early spring harvests! Our ­relatively mild temperatures mean we can grow things through late summer and early fall and have them “overwinter” safely in the garden tucked up with plenty of mulch (i.e. leaves or straw).

During the winter, plants like leeks, ­carrots, parsnips, and beets can all be stored in the garden. The days aren’t long enough and temperatures aren’t warm enough for them to put on much growth, but they will get so much sweeter when colder temperatures come. These root crop plants are best planted from seed up to mid-July. Planting them any later means they won’t have enough growth time to get the vegetable to a substantial size to overwinter. But hey, if you’re into really baby carrots, you could try!

If you missed the root veggie window, fear not! All brassicas can still be planted (such as cabbages, broccolis, and kales). Kales, lettuce, spinach, and corn salad can all be started from seed well into August, while any cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sprouts should be planted from a plant start.

All of these plants will be cozy in the garden overwinter. Then, come spring, when days lengthen and temperatures warm those plants will take off and your March will be full of kale salads!

You can find all these plant starts at the Compost Education Centre’s August Organic Plant Sale. It’s happening on August 17th from 10am until 1pm. Just outside the centre, local organic farmers will be selling annual starts (like the aforementioned brassicas) that you can plop in your garden for winter time harvests. You’ll be enjoying fresh garden goodness all through the winter and a shocking ­abundance into spring if you take some time in summer to do a bit of planning.