Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Overwintered Kale

It was a lovely spring day yesterday, so I actually snuck away from my computer and did a bit of garden work. 'Bit' might be the operative word, but it was invigorating to dig some shredded leaf mould into the veggie beds. I also took note of my overwintered kales.. I tried to overwinter them in three ways: Some were planted in the open garden with no winter cover, others under mini hoop tunnels covered in 6 mil greenhouse poly and finally, the rest were just tucked under a medium weight row cover that was laid directly on top of the plants. All kales in this casual experiment were Red Russian and planted around the same time last year (mid-July). Here are the results!

Under the mini hoop tunnel, this plant is now sprouting
4 to 6-inch long baby leaves. So tender and prolific. Little
winter damage.

Under the medium weight row cover
this kale is also in very good shape.
Little winter damage and plenty of
4 to 8-inch long leaves. Not as many leaves
as the mini hoop tunnel kale.

Lastly, the unprotected kale. We didn't have much of
a snow cover to insulate it. There is a lot of winter kill, but
also a lot of new growth. It was the hardest hit, but will still
offer several months of harvest before it goes to seed. 

Ok, not a kale, but this bok choi overwintered
under the medium weight row cover too.
Hardier than I thought and it's just starting to
bloom - yum!

My spinach that overwintered under a mini
hoop tunnel. I keep the plastic on top only to
keep the deer out. The ends are opened for
air circulation. I should just toss a row
cover over the bed to thwart the deer.


  1. Hi Niki,

    I like to hear about experiments like this. Did you water any of these plants during the winter? I'm wondering about the ones under plastic that wouldn't have received any precipitation.

    1. Great question Melissa!! I watered up until late Nov when the mini hoop tunnels and row covered were put to use. Then, no water until late Feb when things begin to look dry and the daytime temp's are getting milder - especially under the shelter of the mini hoop tunnels.

  2. I love it. Thank you for showing us how beautiful over wintered veg looks. Wonderful.

  3. Winter was so mild here we have kale and carrots that overwintered with no cover whatsoever! Like your kale, it took a bit of hit but is bouncing back full speed ahead.

  4. Hi Niki,

    I just got your book a few weeks ago and am loving it! I've had my poor hubby hard at work building me cold frames and a mini hoop tunnel.

    How do you secure your tunnel for harsh fall and winter storms? We live on the ocean in Cow Bay and I'm concerned it just won't stand up to the winds.

    Sprouts have emerged in my cold frame. Thanks so much for all the inspiration!


  5. Garden Girl
    Just wondering, Niki, if you have a tiller? We have most of our garden in beds but it is getting fairly big (around 2000 sq.ft.) and we are thinking of getting a small lightweight tiller to help break the soil in spring. Do you have any experience with these?


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)