Tips for mid-winter growing

›› Alysha Punnett

Happy December, Village Vibe readers! As the days draw closer to Solstice on the 21st, it may feel like the garden and the compost piles are sleeping—unless you’re growing a winter garden! Here on the west coast, we’re lucky enough to be able to grow our greens year-round. While we’re past the point of planting or seeding anything for 2017, here are some important things to keep in mind for taking care of your kale, collards, winter lettuces and chard (and any broccoli, fava beans, the list goes on…).

Protective Covers
If building a cold-frame or cloche to set over top of your grow beds was too complicated to think about in the heady days of summer, don’t worry too much. Often a sheet of plastic laid over top of chard or other greens is enough to keep frost from doing too much damage. If you see a cold snap coming up and your veggies are naked, throwing a sheet of plastic over them and weighting it down with wood or bricks can be a quick fix.

When water in the soil freezes, it expands and can crush delicate roots. Hence the importance of a thick mulch layer around your plants to keep the soil from freezing. About 4 to 6 inches of straw or leaves is what you’re looking to keep plant feet cozy.

Plants that freeze don’t always turn to mush! Before mourning the loss of plants to an overnight frost, let them thaw out. Often they will return to crispness, or just a few vulnerable leaves will need to be picked off.

Come on by the Compost Education Centre to see our winter garden in action. We also have a handy factsheet on ­Winter Gardening over at our website: ­compost.­
For the month of December, visitors receive a free membership with ­composter purchase and we also have gift cards for Earth Machines and Greencones ­available (the membership deal applies with these too!). Membership includes 10% off composters and free access to one of our workshops, so if you’re keen to learn about organic growing, preserving, pollinators, native plants and more this is the deal for you!

Alysha Punnett is the Site Manager & Community Education Coordinator, Compost Education Centre. They are currently seeking donations and membership to continue to deliver accessible ­programming and maintain their Resource Centre and Teaching Gardens. To donate, please visit­education-centre-needs-your-help/.