My Winter Garden Experiment

A butterfly zipped by right as I snapped this photo.
I left my bedraggled marigolds and pepper plants alone for now.
They escaped the wrath of my hoe.

After reading a short review of the book "The Winter Harvest Handbook" in Mother Earth News, I've decided all is not lost... I may not have planted my fall veggies in late August/early September, but there's still a chance I can do this!  I mean, c'mon, Eliot Coleman lives in MAINE, and he gardens in cold weather, so heck, I should be able to do it more easily than he, since I live in south Kansas.  Right?  RIGHT??!  We're still having 70-80 degree days here with nights dipping into the 50s... except for last night, which got down to a numbing 41 degrees.  Yikes!

{On a side note, yes, I did order Eliot's book from Amazon yesterday.}

So yesterday I tore out the sad, neglected remains of our summer garden, fortified a short row with some cotton burr compost, and planted some spinach.  I put a tunnel row cover over the seeds, and we'll see if they sprout in 7-10 days as indicated by the Burpee seed packet. The row cover is 18 feet long, so yes, that's extra row cover laying on the ground in the photo.

That's my gramma's old wheelbarrow in the background.... 
a rather retro looking 50s-style wheelbarrow, don't you think?

And just in case you weren't sure, cleaning a garden and digging in compost using a shovel, rake and hoe is the most excellent yet muscle-draining exercise.  Just so we're clear that it's not as easy as my photo makes it look.  My body keeps reminding me lately.... you're going to be 50 before the end of the year girl!!!  Ugh.

I'll give y'all a spinach update in 2 weeks.  I've got my fingers crossed.  :-)

Later this week:  a post showcasing our chicken coop renovation, guinea keets who are growing into rebellious juveniles, beautiful Leah in Ohio, and a blog winner for the "vote for Leah" contest on Gerber's website last month!


  1. Good luck, I hope it sprouts!

  2. I'll hope for the best.

    We have started clearing out our garden and the rest of the yard will be prepped by the end of the month.

  3. How do you keep the plastic on the tunnel?

  4. hope all goes well... and the Kansas fall is mild.

  5. Good luck! Im on my third spinach planting this year... no luck as of yet. :(

  6. We are down in the 30s on occasion here in Nebraska. The tomatoes are barely hanging on as well as the bell peppers. The potatoes, of course, are snug as a bug in a rug under the ground, but will need to be dug soon. I hand dug one plant last week. Literally, I pushed my hand down in the dirt by the plant and dug up potatoes. Nice ones. Yukon gold came through this year. The onions were a little puzzling this year. I planted them in early spring and they grew well until the middle of June and died down and went dormant. Two months later they came back to life and are bigger and stronger than ever. What's up with that? I should have a great crop of onions .... I guess.

    I wish you well with your new spinach crop.

  7. Good luck!!

    I know nothing about gardening, but I LOVE learning about it on you're site :)

  8. Yeay Susan! Good for you for not giving up...if our weather warms up like Jay the weatherman says then your seeds should sprout I would think. I didn't plant a fall garden but maybe next year. We still have basil and sage growing along with pumpkins! We pulled out our first crop as it got bugs so bad and the next thing we know we have new pumpkin plants growing up all over the place. If the weather stays mild we could have some mini white and orange pumpkins...YEAY! Our tomatoes are still producing and so are the strawberries so this year was not too bad for the first year garden on the farm. GOOD LUCK to you...have fun gardening and try not to work too hard. I hope you have a good Tuesday.
    Maura :)

  9. Am I the only one who can see you lying under that plastic cover? :)

  10. Oh my gosh, I had to laugh at Tony's comment about you lying under that cover!

    And I think you've got a great idea for a winter garden ... maybe I should try one, although we get lots of wind and the cover might fly off like a kite. :0)

  11. Oh my, I have a black thumb. If it was my garden, no amount of plastic would save it.
    Hope it works out for you, maybe I should take some gardening lessons from you.

    ps - I guess I don't know Tony, but that comment seems a wee bit creepy to me. Or am I watching too much Dexter?