Snow gardening is the best way to ensure you have a fresh supply of vegetables, even in winter. As some off-gridders stockpile foods for winter, you can prepare for snow gardening and eat fresh and highly nutritious food.
Winter is a harsh season usually characterized by snowfalls. Many people think that the conditions are unfavorable for gardening, but they are mistaken.
You can take advantage of the snow to grow plants that can live and thrive even in snowy weather. After all, snow is also beneficial to plants, as we will see shortly.
In this article, we provide a list of 20 best plants for snow gardening and how to protect and harvest in such conditions. Keep reading for detailed information!
- 3 Amazing Benefits Of Snow In The Garden
- 20 Plants For Snow Gardening
- How To Protect Plants From Heavy Snow
- How To Harvest Plants In The Snow
- In Conclusion
3 Amazing Benefits Of Snow In The Garden
Winter is chilly weather characterized by snowfalls. The snow is not all bad as many people think. In fact, the first benefit is their stunning beauty.
They are lovely to watch, but they offer more than just that. Light snows are effective in insulating plants, protecting them from frost, and conserving soil moisture.
Insulates The Soil And Plants
Snow has an insulating property that protects both plants and soil. Light snows trap pockets of air, which prevent heat loss from the soil. The roots of the plants need this optimum heat for water and nutrient absorption.
Protect Plants From Frost
Winter is associated with freezing temperatures. If the soil around the root zone of the plant freezes, the plant will dry up or be affected.
Snow can act as a thick warm blanket that prevents soil from freezing, thereby giving plants ideal conditions for growth.
Conserve Soil Moisture And Provide Nitrogen For Plants
Snows can act as mulches, conserving soil moisture. When they melt, they turn into water that replenishes soil moisture.
Also, they release nitrogen into the soil. Nitrogen is an essential mineral required by plants for leaf formation. Plants that get sufficient nitrogen have dense foliage.
20 Plants For Snow Gardening
Some plants are better adapted to survive the strong winds and freezing winter temperatures. These plants produce antifreeze resinous chemicals from their roots, stems, and/or leaves.
Plants with needle-like leaves are better survivors because they have less surface area exposed to cold.
As an aspiring snow-gardener, you should know about these 20 plants that you can grow even during winter:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sprouting Broccoli
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Lily of the Valley
- Blue Spruce
- Wintergreen Boxwood
- Coral Bells (Heuchera)
- Heucherella ‘Stoplight’
- Mixed Pansies
How To Protect Plants From Heavy Snow
Snow is both beneficial and destructive to plants. They insulate the soil and release nitrogen into the soil when they melt.
However, heavy snowfalls can be harmful. Plants without strong branches can break when snow accumulates on them. Garden plants can simply get buried under a thick layer of snow.
Protecting your plants from heavy snow ensures your success. You can do any of the following to increase their survival chances:
Cover Smaller Plants
Covering your plants is the first line of defense when protecting them from snow damage. It simply involves blocking the snow from breaking or burying your garden plants. You can do it in the following ways:
Cover Plants with a Cardboard Box/Plastic Bottle
You can use a cardboard or plastic bottle to cover your plants from snow damage.
To successfully do it, you need to cut holes on the sides to allow fresh air to get in and remove the cover as soon as possible. Remember, your plants need light to photosynthesize.
SOLIGT 10 Pack Extra Thick Garden Cloche Plastic Plant Cover
Cover Plants by Plastic Storage Bin
You can cover the plant with a storage bin. A clear one is preferred as it will allow light to pass through while protecting your plants from snow.
You can also use any other plastic storage bin but remove it as soon as possible to expose the plant to light.
Cover Plants Plastic Tarp or Drop Cloth
A plastic tarp or drop cloth is one of the best ways of covering many plants at once. Dig holes at appropriate distances and insert posts in them. Tie the cloth or plastic tarp on the posts.
This method is recommended because it allows free fresh air flow but should also be removed after some time if it does not allow enough light to pass through.
Plant Covers Freeze Protection
Cover Plants by Plastic Bag
You can reuse your grocery plastic bags to protect your plants from snow damage.
Every bag should cover each plant, and always be careful not to break the buds and flowers. If possible, do not let the plastic bag touch the blossoms. Also, create holes on the sides of the bag to allow in the fresh air.
Plastic tunnels can be very effective in protecting plants from heavy snow. The dome-shaped tunnel will make the snow slide. They can also be used to protect plants inside from chilling winter temperatures.
The main advantage of plastic tunnels over other methods we have discussed is that they are transparent. So, your plant will get enough light they need to grow without having to remove the cover.
Home Garden Plastic Tunnels
A home garden plastic tunnel can be used to grow snow-resistant plants during winter.
A plastic bag that can extend up to 24 inches high is ideal for growing plants such as lettuce, spinach, and other vegetables. Taller ones are recommended for growing broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Constructing the Tunnel
To construct a home garden plastic tunnel, you require sturdy tubing and plastic bags. A 9-inch diameter plastic tube is ideal for the job. You need a long enough tube that can arc over the growing bed.
Create successive arcs through the length of the bed and cover it with a transparent plastic bag to complete the structure.
Ventilating Plastic Tunnels
Ventilation is required during the day if the temperature exceeds the recommended limit for the plant you are growing. That means you should constantly monitor the interior temperature.
Also, you need fresh air to get into the tunnel. You can do this by pulling over the plastic bag or creating windows, whichever is easier for you.
Cold frames are a resource for cold-weather gardening. They are bottomless boxes built around the seedbed and have a transparent roof.
Hardy salad leaves such as lettuce, mizuna, and corn salad can spend their entire growth time in cold frames.
Benefits of Cold Frames
- They protect plants from adverse weather conditions such as snow, strong winds, and scorching sun.
- Are essential in the hardening off of seedlings just before transplanting to the seedbed.
- Ideal as a nursery if you want to have a late or early harvest.
- Transparent – allow enough sunlight to pass through. No need to remove the cover.
- Offers ideal conditions for growing salad greens such as kales, spinach, etc.
Cold Frame Building Tips
- You can make cold frames from locally available materials such as wood and bricks as the base.
- Avoid using old wood that was treated with creosote or any other unfriendly chemicals. You can consider painting it with non-toxic paint to enhance aesthetics.
- Build cover from old window glass or a transparent bag. Hinge the cover on one side for easy opening and closing.
- You can quickly make cold frames by cutting the bottom part of a water barrel or any other open container.
- An old window can be leaned over the seedbed to form a temporary cold frame.
Prune Larger plants
Dense foliage pre-exposes the plants to the dangers of heavy snow. Snow will accumulate on the leaves, which can result in breakages.
Pruning helps to reduce the surface area exposed to cold winds and snow-landing platforms.
You should follow all recommended pruning styles when carrying out that exercise. Causing injuries to the plants will lower the yield or kill the plant, especially during harsh weather.
If you would like to know more about protecting your plant from frost, click here.
How To Harvest Plants In The Snow
It is a common phenomenon for snow to blanket crops in winter. Some plant varieties can survive the chilling weather and wait for you to go harvest them.
Carrots, turnips, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, chard, and head lettuce have high resilience against the snow. But how do you brave the weather and harvest?
Freezing winter temperatures can potentially freeze the soil. You should harvest all crops before then, and the best time to do it is when you have the maximum temperature for the day.
Harvest only those that you can uncover from the snow and leave the rest for later harvesting.
Crops such as brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and other varieties can survive the snow and remain fresh for later harvesting. Make sure you are ready to move out to seek them out.
What can you plant in a winter garden?
Some vegetables can survive in winter even if grown outdoors. Beets, garlic, cabbage, kales, onion, peas, and many others have proved their ability to cope with the extreme temperatures outdoors and give relatively high yields.
However, you should also do your part, such as protecting them. Check the article for a complete list of the 20 best winter plants to grow.
Is it too late to plant a winter garden?
Timing is crucial when planting any crop or vegetable. For winter gardens, prepare your seeds and seedlings between 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost date.
We have also seen some people starting this process as early as 10 weeks to this date of interest. Keep your eyes on the calendar to correctly time your planting time.
What vegetables grow all year round in the UK?
Beans, dwarf French, beetroot, spring cabbage, carrots, chicory, Chinese cabbage, and many others can be grown all year round, especially in winter.
However, you still need to use the best growth strategies, including protecting the vegetables from heavy snow.
Can beets be left in the ground over winter?
Yes. Beets can withstand a temperature as low as 30 °F (-1 °C), provided no frosts formed. They will survive the cold weather but should be harvested as soon as possible.
Otherwise, they will start sprouting. When that happens, the usually fleshy part will harden.
Winter plants ensure you have a constant supply of fresh vegetables all year round.
Just choose the variety that performs well in your area, and do not forget to cover them or protect them from heavy snow. Also, know the right time to harvest your vegetables.
Let us know if you have other ways of protecting your vegetables during winter. We also appreciate the time you took to read our article.
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