It’s time to start growing winter weather vegetables, says master gardener

Give peas a chance

Master gardener Brian Minter says a wide variety of vegetables can by grown in the winter if properly cared for. (Hans Splinter/Flickr)

As we inch closer to planting season, master gardener Brian Minter says there are already many vegetables to start growing for those with itchy green thumbs.

“Once these vegetables are properly acclimatized and hardened to stand outside conditions, they’re really resilient, they really are tough,” said Minter.

Minter said while much of B.C. isn’t yet enjoying warm weather, many garden variety vegetables can begin to thrive in snowy conditions if they are properly cared for.

Varieties of peas, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, potatoes and types of brasiccas all do well in winter when fastidiously maintained, said Minter.

Early planting tips

He said it’s important to plant early varieties of the vegetables, because not only are they bred to endure cold and wet weather, they are meant to thrive in such conditions.

The rule of thumb, said Minter, is to get planting once your soil temperature is around 10 C. For early variety potatoes, 12 C is the right time to plant.

“That is sort of the starting gun in terms of getting ready to go,” said Minter.

Minter said one way to keep your plants warm, and ward off any would-be pests, is to fashion yourself an English garden cloche — a sort of miniature greenhouse.

When building your cloche, Minter said to purchase rebar and paint it green to match your garden. Then cut the rebar to length, and cover it with poultry wire.

“If you create this little cage, plants grow and it’s as old as the hills,” said Minter.

He said the cloche protects the plants, and it also can be covered with polyethylene during the day to heat up the cloche’s internal temperature. If it gets really chilly, he said cover your cloche with a warming blanket, especially at night.

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