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Certified Naturally Grown

Vegetable Information - Cold Season Vegetables

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Cold Season Vegetables

Generally, cold season vegetables will survive sudden summer frosts, snows and cold. We recommend cold season vegetables for beginning mountain gardeners.  The following info. is sorted alphabetically.  Click a tab to browse further instructions.

A

ASPARAGUS (P) Asparagus officinalis

Long-considered a delicacy in Europe, asparagus cultivation is becoming evermore popular. A "must" for edible landscapes. Scatter single plants throughout your garden, or place selectively for backdrops or borders. Provides delicate, lacy, summer foliage and fine, tender, tasty spears.
FROST TOLERANCE: Good.
CULTURE: Takes up to 10 weeks to germinate in cold soil. Plant in flats 8-10 weeks early, or when soil reaches 60°F. Transplant small plants into shallow trenches rich in compost. Hill as they grow. If using root crowns, fill bottom of 6" trench with compost; spread roots; bury 4". Compost heavily each year.
HARVEST and STORAGE: Carefully cut young shoots early spring, third year. Do not disturb root crowns. Store 2-3 weeks at 32-36°F., in humid environment.
INSECTS and DISEASES: Control asparagus beetles with pyrethrum. Asparagus rust (appears as reddish or black blisters on stems and foliage) is associated with very damp conditions. Remove all above-ground plant material to avoid disease. Diseased tops should be cut and burned.
REPRODUCTION: Asparagus produces both male and female plants. Late summer, female plants produce red berries that can be dried and saved as seed, or allowed to fall on ground to reseed. Propagate male plants by dividing root crowns in early spring or late fall. Male plants yield larger number of shoots for eating.
SPACING: rows 48"; plants in rows 9-15"; plants in beds 12"
SOIL PH: 6.0-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 24 PER OUNCE: 1200

B

FAVA BEAN (A) Vicia faba

We first discovered the delicious fava bean high in the mountains of Guatemala. No mountain garden should be without these frost-hardy jewels. Expect large, meaty, brown beans to eat fresh like tender, green lima beans, or store for hearty, mid-winter meals.
FROST TOLERANCE: Good.
CULTURE: Plant seeds in early spring as soon as ground can be worked. Companion plants include: potatoes, cucumbers, corn. Dislikes: onions and garlic.
INSECTS AND DISEASES: Control beetles with rotenone or pyrethrum. Blights, mosaic and mold can be minimized by watering deeply at base, keeping tops dry. Rotate in at least 3-year cycles.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Harvest for use as fresh beans, or allow to dry for winter storage. Store fresh 2 weeks at 35-40°F., in humid environment. Keep dry beans in cool, dry, place with air circulation.
SEED PRODUCTION: Fava or broad beans, unlike green beans, have showy flowers, often pollinated by bees. Separate different varieties 100 feet if some crossing is tolerable, 1000 yards if purity is desired.
SPACING: rows: 24"; plants in rows: 8"; plants in beds: 8"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER OUNCE: 20-25 POUND: 275-400

BEET (B) Beta vulgaris

FROST TOLERANCE: Tolerates moderate frosts. Expect slow growth until temperatures rise.
CULTURE: Cold-tolerant crop after germination. Avoid planting until soil reaches 60°F. Transplanting not recommended. Beets prefer deep, rich, well-composted soil, but tolerate average soil, if provided enough trace minerals and sun. For larger, more uniform roots, thin to 1 plant every 4". Companion plants include: onions.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: For a steady supply of fresh, young greens, plant every 2-3 weeks. Store beets with greens still attached up to several weeks in cold, humid environment. Roots will last for several months in cold, dry sand or sawdust.
DISEASES: To minimize scab, provide rich, well-composted soil.
SEED PRODUCTION: Flowers contain both male and female parts, but do not self-pollinate before flowers open. As pollen is carried long distances by wind, grow seeds for only one variety at a time. Note: beets will cross with Swiss chard. Since beets are biennials, pull first-year roots before ground freezes. Store at 40°F., and replant best roots early next spring (18" spacing).
SPACING: rows 12-24"; plants in rows 4"; plants in beds 3-4"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 55 OUNCE: 2100

BROCCOLI (B) Brassica oleracea, var. botrytis

A wonderful vegetable that actually grows better in cooler climes and higher altitudes than in warmer lowlands!
FROST TOLERANCE: Mature plants survive temperatures as low as 10°F. Protect very young plants from frost.
CULTURE: Plant seeds in flats 4-7 weeks early, or after soil reaches 45°F. Demands soil high in nitrogen and phosphorus. To reach full size, space heading varieties at least 18". Water frequently and consistently throughout growing season, increasing amount of water when flowers appear. Stagger plantings of hybrid, heading varieties. Companion plants include: dill, chamomile, sage, peppermint, beets, onions. Dislikes: tomatoes.
INSECTS AND DISEASES: Cabbage worms can be controlled by Bacillus thuringiensis, if applied early and frequently. If root maggots become problem in extremely wet weather, carefully mix diatomaceous earth or wood ashes into soil, or protect soil from rain. Tar paper placed around base of plants deters flies that lay eggs which hatch into root maggots. Control aphids with pyrethrum. Disease is rare in higher and drier climes. Keep soil healthy. Rotate in at least 3-year cycles.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Harvest flower buds before they begin to open. To encourage continued production, harvest regularly when side shoots appear. Harvest hybrid, heading varieties (10-14 day field life) early. DeCicco and other sprouting varieties, left in ground until cooler fall days, come into an especially productive second season. Store fresh up to 2 weeks at near-freezing temperatures.
SEED PRODUCTION: Although broccoli flowers contain both female and male flowers, individual plants do not self-fertilize. Provide at least two or more flowering plants to assure seed formation. Since bees can cross-pollinate broccoli with other brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts), if purity is desired, isolation distances should be 1000 yards or more.
SPACING: rows 24"; plants in rows 12-24"; plants in beds 18"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 315

BRUSSELS SPROUT (B) Brassica oleracea var. gemnifera

Perfect for the mountain garden! Brussels sprouts become tastier after temperatures fall below freezing.
FROST TOLERANCE: Mature plants survive temperatures as low as 10°F. Protect very young plants from frost.
CULTURE: See Broccoli.
INSECTS AND DISEASES: See Broccoli.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Harvest bottom sprouts first. Leave some for winter when they will taste extra mild and buttery. (Remember to mark plants so they can be found in deep snow.) Store up to 4 weeks in near-freezing, humid environment.
SEED PRODUCTION: See Broccoli.
SPACING: rows 30"; plants in rows 18"; plants in beds 18"
SOIL PH: 6.0-6.7 SEEDS PER GRAM: 300

C

CABBAGE (B) Brassica oleracea var. capitata

This "prince of plants" is an amazing addition to every mountain garden! We have harvested heads at 10°F., and stored them the entire winter.
FROST TOLERANCE: Protect young plants from frost, especially after transplanting. Mature plants can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F.
CULTURE: Plant seeds in flats 4-7 weeks early, or after soil reaches 50°F. Provide enough light to avoid long, thin stems that will restrict later growth. (Twenty watts of artificial light per-square foot is sufficient.) Cabbage is less demanding than either cauliflower or broccoli, but still benefits from nitrogen-rich, nutritious soil. Water heavily when heads begin to form. Stagger plantings of same variety every 2 weeks.
INSECTS AND DISEASES: Avoid top watering. Rotate in at least 3-year cycles. See Broccoli.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: We have had some success storing cabbage fresh in the garden by twisting the head until stem cracks. This procedure arrests further growth, but cabbage remains alive and fresh. Once harvested, store trimmed heads for months in near-freezing, humid environment. As field life of hybrids is limited, harvest hybrids as soon as ready.
SEED PRODUCTION: See Broccoli. Heads brought in for winter can be replanted early following spring. Allow bottom of head to rest on top of soil. 1" deep cuts across top of head will facilitate emergence of second-year growth.
SPACING: rows 30"; plants in rows 18"; plants in beds 15-18"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 300

CARROT (B) Daucus carota

When skeptics ask, "Why have a vegetable garden in a short-season climate?", simply have them experience a freshly-picked carrot!
FROST TOLERANCE: Excellent
CULTURE: Because of tap root, it is advisable to avoid starting carrots in flats for transplanting. Plant seeds after soil reaches 55°F. Carrots do best in rich (high in phosphorus and potassium with only moderate levels of nitrogen), uncompacted soil. Plant into firm, even seedbed. Weed continuously. (Because carrot seed usually takes 10 days to germinate, fast germinating weeds in a large bed can be controlled by burning with a torch without harming carrots.) Hill with dirt to avoid uneven ripening and to protect from fall frosts. Companion plants include: peas, leaf lettuce, onions, garlic, tomatoes, sage. Dislikes: dill.
DISEASES: Provide fertile soil and rotate in least 3-year cycles to avoid most problems. In the mountains above 5,000 feet, we've never had fungus, blight or insects.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: For best taste and highest quality, harvest within 2 weeks of reaching maturity. Although carrots can be left in the garden protected by heavy mulch and deep snow, we prefer harvesting before the ground freezes, and storing for winter in cold, dry sawdust or sand.
SEED PRODUCTION: Carrots are biennial with perfect flowers (each flower has both male and female parts). As insects are a major pollinating agent, separate different varieties at least 100 yards if some crossing is tolerable, 1000 yards for purity. Beware that carrots will cross with Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot)! Store best roots for replanting following year. Since flowering tops are quite large, leave minimum 2' between each carrot.
SPACING: rows 18-24"; plants in rows 1-3"; plants in beds 2"
SOIL PH: 5.5-6.7 SEEDS PER GRAM: 600 OUNCE: 9600

CAULIFLOWER (B) Brassica oleracea var. botrytis

FROST TOLERANCE: Mature plants survive temperatures as low as 10°F. Protect very young plants from frost.
CULTURE: The key to growing beautiful cauliflowers is consistency. Protect young plants from frosts. Water frequently. Side-dress with fertilizer or compost. Best results are obtained when plants are given at least 24" spacing. See Cabbage.
INSECTS AND DISEASES: See Broccoli.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: When white heads begin to appear, tie outer leaves together over top to preserve color and texture. See Broccoli.
SEED PRODUCTION: See Broccoli.
SPACING: rows 24"; plants in rows 12-24"; plants in beds 15"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 315

K

KALE (B) Brassica oleracea var. acephala

In harsh, high altitude gardens, kale is one of the most dependable sources for vitamins and minerals. Frost improves rich flavor. Mark in fall to facilitate harvesting fresh and green in waist-deep snow.
FROST TOLERANCE: Very good.
CULTURE: Plant in flats 4-6 weeks early, or as soon as ground can be worked in spring. Fall crop can be planted 2-3 months before growing season ends. See Cabbage for companion plants.
INSECTS: Cabbage worms are rarely a problem but can be controlled with Bacillus thuringiensis.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Pick outside leaves first to stimulate continued production. Store 2 weeks at near-freezing temperatures, in humid environment.
SEED PRODUCTION: See Brussels Sprouts.
SPACING: rows 24-36"; plants in rows 18-24"; plants in beds: 16"
SOIL PH: 6.0-7.0 SEEDS PER GRAM: 300

L

LETTUCE (A) Latuca sativa

FROST TOLERANCE: Good to around 20°F., if hardened properly.
CULTURE: Plant seeds in flats 3-4 weeks early, or as soon as ground can be worked. Harden before transplanting by lowering temperature. Provide nitrogen-rich soil. (Add extra compost or chicken manure, if needed.) Water heavily in hot weather, but make sure leaves dry out before dark. Water head lettuce at base and keep in shade to avoid rot. Stagger plantings every 10 days, planting smaller amounts more often as weather becomes hot. For full heads, thin to 8". Companion plants include: carrots, radishes.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Harvest young and tender. As long as weather is cool, outside leaves on looseleaf varieties can be continually picked as they mature. Store 1-2 weeks in refrigerator with stems submerged in bowl of water.
SEED PRODUCTION: Lettuce produces perfect yellow flowers on tall, bushy seed stalks. Since flowers self-pollinate, there is little chance of cross-pollination between varieties. For purity, separate at least 25 yards with other crops.
SPACING: rows 12-24"; plants in rows or beds 8-12"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 800 OUNCE: 23,750

O

BUNCHING ONION (B) Allium cepa L.

FROST TOLERANCE: Good.
CULTURE: Plant seeds in spring as soon as ground can be worked. Prefers well-drained, rich soil, high in organic matter. Water frequently, especially during dry spells. Companion plants include: beets, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, chamomile. Dislikes: peas, beans.
DISEASES: To avoid most problems, rotate crops and eliminate standing water.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Leave a few bunching onions in garden to self-divide and reproduce perennially. Store fresh in refrigerator or in cool, not too humid environment.
SEED PRODUCTION: See Leeks. Bunching onions can be left in ground through winter. Bulb onions are best stored inside. In early spring, replant largest bulbs 4" apart, covering firmly with 1/2" soil. If onions are blooming at same time as wild onions, cage domestic plants to prevent cross-pollination by bees.
SPACING: rows 18-24"; plants in rows 2-4"; plants in beds 1-3"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 325 OUNCE: 12,500

P

PEA (A) Pisum sativum L.

FROST TOLERANCE: Good.
CULTURE: Plant seeds as soon as soil reaches 40°F. Provide slightly limed soil that has plenty of phosphorus and potassium. To increase nitrogen fixation, which in turn will increase yields, inoculate seed or soil with rhizobium bacteria. In high altitude gardens, speed germination and prevent seed rot by starting peas in cold frames or poly tubes. Companion plants include: beans, corn, carrots, turnips, radishes. Dislikes: onions, garlic.
DISEASES: Prevent pea root rot by planting in well-drained soils and rotating crops frequently. If mildew or wilt are problems, use resistant varieties.
HARVEST: To assure steady supply, plant at 2 week intervals throughout season. Stimulate continuous production by harvesting mature peas.
SEED PRODUCTION: Peas produce self-pollinating flowers. Cross-pollination by insects is rare as pollination is complete before flower opens. To assure purity, separate different varieties with another pea flowering crop. Maturity is complete when seeds rattle in dry pods (about 30 days after eating stage).
SPACING: rows 24-36"; plants in rows 3"; plants in beds 3-4"
SOIL PH: Above 6.5 SEEDS PER OUNCE: 80 POUND: 2000

R

RADISH (A) Raphanus sativus L.

This vegetable is one of the easiest to grow.
FROST TOLERANCE: Very good.
CULTURE: Plant seeds when soil temp. reaches 40°F. Radishes love cool weather. Plant early and often. Provide shade in summer. Plant with crops that take longer to mature (e.g. carrots or broccoli) and harvest first. Companion plants include: cucumbers, peas, cabbage, lettuce, nasturtiums. Dislikes: hyssop.
INSECTS AND DISEASES: Control flea beetles in their pursuit of radish greens with pyrethrum. Allow radishes to attract cabbage root maggots away from cabbage family crops. Use of wood ashes and diatomaceous earth will irritate and discourage small worms. Use resistant varieties to avoid Fusarium wilt. Avoid infected soil.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: For best results, harvest when young. Store 1-2 weeks in sealed container in refrigerator. Store Daikon varieties for winter in cold sand or sawdust.
SEED PRODUCTION: Radish is an annual, primarily pollinated by bees. Select best roots and replant 12-18" apart early same summer. For purity, separate different varieties 1000 yards. As daikon radish is a biennial, replant roots following spring. Allow most of seed pods to turn brown before pulling plant.
SPACING: rows 8-16"; plants in rows 1-3"; plants in beds 2-3"
SOIL PH: 6.0-7.0 SEEDS PER GRAM: 75 OUNCE: 2500

S

SPINACH (A) Spinacia oleracea L.

FROST TOLERANCE: Very good.
CULTURE: Plant seeds in flats 3-4 weeks early, or as soon as ground can be worked. Provide moist, fertile soil. Water frequently, especially during dry spells. To assure a season-long supply, plant every 2 weeks. In hot, summer weather, plant bolt-resistant varieties.
INSECTS: Control aphids with pyrethrum.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: For continued production, carefully harvest mature, outside leaves. Store 2 weeks in refrigerator with stems submerged in bowl of water.
SEED PRODUCTION: Spinach is a dioecious annual, producing male and female plants. To improve quality of strain, remove plants that bolt first (they are usually males). Because spinach pollen is extremely fine, hard to contain in cages and easily carried long distances by the wind, plant a single variety of spinach for seed per year.
SPACING: rows 12-24"; plants in rows 2-6"; plants in beds 4"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 100 OUNCE: 2500

SWISS CHARD (B) Beta vulgaris var. Cicla

When it's too hot in your garden for spinach, look for the deep-dark leaves of Swiss chard! These delicious greens taste like spinach!
FROST TOLERANCE: Fair. Chard will withstand fall frosts to 15-20°F. If left to winter, protect with mulch.
CULTURE: Plant seeds as soon as soil reaches 50°F. See Beets. Companion plants include: onions. Dislikes: pole beans.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: To stimulate continued production, harvest mature, outer leaves first. See Spinach.
SEED PRODUCTION: See Beets. Swiss chard is classified in same species as beets, and will cross-pollinate. Be very careful if trying to produce seed for both at same time.
SPACING: rows 24"; plants in rows 8-12"; plants in beds 10-12"
SOIL PH: 6.5-7.5 SEEDS PER GRAM: 60

T

TURNIP (B) Brassica rapa L.

FROST TOLERANCE: Good.
CULTURE: Plant directly when soil reaches 50°F. Turnips grow in wide variety of soils but produce best in rich, loam. Water sufficiently, not allowing soil to dry out. Companion plants include: peas.
INSECTS: Control flea beetles with pyrethrum. Use wood ash or diatomaceous earth to discourage root maggots.
HARVEST AND STORAGE: Begin harvesting greens and small turnips within 4 weeks. See Carrots.
SEED PRODUCTION: Turnips are biennials with perfect flowers. Store best roots to replant (12" spacing) next spring. Since turnips are pollinated by bees, and cross with numerous domestic and wild plants, including mustard, Chinese cabbage and horseradish, caging is recommended.
SPACING: rows 12-24"; plants in rows 2-5"; plants in beds 3"
SOIL PH: 6.0-7.0 SEEDS PER GRAM: 500



 

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