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Eating Your Own Vegetables Year-Round

You can have your own fresh vegetables year round without a greenhouse by planting an early spring garden, planting a fall garden, overwintering hardy vegetables, using you garden for in-ground storage, and growing vegetables that can be stored for long periods.

In the early spring garden, by use of protective plastic covers, heat absorbing mulches and heat trapping devices you can speed growth of many early planted vegetables so that you can begin harvesting in May. By planting a fall garden using cold tolerant varieties you can have fresh vegetables up to the time of a hard freeze. Broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages often can all last well into the winter. Crops such as carrots and parsnips can be stored right in the ground and if mulched over, can be dug in all but the coldest weather.

Of course, there are many vegetables that can kept for months if they are properly cured and stored at the proper temperature and humidity. All hard winter squashes (butternut, acorn, hubbard, and buttercup for example), sweet potatoes, storage type onions, garlic, and Irish potatoes have the potential for lasting from 3-9 months. Other crops that have storage lives in the 3-12 week range include turnips, rutabagas, winter radishes, pie pumpkins, carrots, parsnips, and Bermuda type onions.

There are also some vegetables that are normally not thought of as being long lived, but with selection of storage type varieties can also be kept for many weeks. Included in this category are 'winter' melons, long-keeper watermelons, long-keeper tomatoes, and storage cabbage.

The last component to your year-round garden is planting overwintering vegetables as mentioned previously and maintaining perennial vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb.

Submitted by KP, WA



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