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3 Steps to Overwintering an Olympic-Sized Harvest

1656056_10152036131633843_107452953_nIf Russia can turn Sochi, a summer resort village, into a Winter Olympic host city, why can’t we also flip the seasons and make a successful growing season out of our cold New England winter (without the environmental impact of refrigerating 710,000 cubic meters of snow through the summer to ensure enough for the games)?

The Farmers and Urban Agriculture Ambassadors at Green City Growers know that maintaining a garden through the winter is simple and sustainable as long as you find light, use the right tools and plant smart. Luckily we don’t have to rely on energy-intensive methods to keep our gardens alive through the winter.

1. Find light.

To keep plants alive from the first winter frost through the last, put your garden in a location that allows for sun year-round. Successful overwintering means harnessing limited winter light so plants can germinate, establish root systems, stay alive and grow. A detailed understanding of seasonal light patterns helps you choose the best place to plant so plants can survive (and grow) from November through March. Where should I put my plants for successful overwintering? Why do plants receive more light in February and March than in September and October? What part of my garden gets the most sun in the spring and fall? To find out, join us in March for our Urban Farming certification course or take a look at “The Urban Bounty,” Jessie’s guide to turning unused space into gardens.

2. Use the right tools.

cold frame is an inexpensive, simple and sustainable way to capture light and warmth for your garden during the winter. Using glass or plastic to cover the top of a garden beds or plants in the ground,cold frames act like a mini greenhouses by allowing in light, trapping in heat and keeping out cold. An automatic arm attached to a cold frame cover permits for heat regulation. The arm requires no electricity or fancy electronics; wax inside the arm expands to put the cover open on warm days and contracts close the cover as the temperature falls. Why should I choose a cold frame over a greenhouse? How can I find a cold frame to fit my garden bed? Find out at the Green City Growers Urban Farming weekend certification course in March.

3. Plant smart.

Good overwinter plants can survive occasional frosts (even with cold frames and good light, frost remains a possibility). Beets, carrots, kale and spinach are a sampling of the plants that do well overwintering. What and when should I plant for a spring harvest if I did not overwinter my garden? The Green City Growers Urban Farming weekend certification course March 21st-24th can teach you!

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