Category Archives: overwintering

Fall Goodies, Winter Prep

Butternuts, Delicata, and Tromboncino squashes are ripened and have been curing in the bay window sunlight for a couple weeks now. Having them there, just that abundance in eyeshot, is such a good satisfying feeling, it’s hard to describe.

The cucumbers have long since come down, and their patch of dirt oversown with Winter Rye. The tomatoes lingered on but were finally done in (mostly) last night with a sharp frost. I’ll be taking them down tomorrow and doing some gleaning. Still some salad toms alive in there, I saw today. So, maybe one more week of fresh garden tomatoes in my meals, until next year.

Fortunately, back in late July and early August, I sowed some Fall crops that do not care about frost. Like bok choi and Japanese turnips and golden ball turnips. The bok choi are actually getting a little long in the tooth, while the turnips are just starting to size up. I’m craving greens, so these don’t have long to live. Mwaaa ha ha aaa.


Then there are these lovelies.


On the left, an immature brussels sprouts seedling. On the right, a red Japanese mustard. The mustards will be picked all Fall to be used mainly as a spicy wrapper for meat. They taste a lot like horseradish. The mustards will eventually be winter-killed. Except for the ones in the cold frame, which haven’t been touched yet (and won’t be until later in Winter when the garden is barren).

The brussels sprouts seedlings- I planted a dozen or so of them throughout the garden- will sit there all Winter long, looking miserable. Then in early Spring, when nothing else is happening in the garden, they will grow a massive trunk and begin pumping out hundreds of delicious tender flower shoots. I normally do this same process with hardy kale plants, but last Spring discovered by accident that brussels sprouts (planted ‘too late’ in the prior Summer) make even more delicious flower shoots than kale does.

Spring is nice, but it’s downright wonderful when you plan ahead to have extra-nice things then. Otherwise it’s barely worth the effort to live through the motherfucking Winter. If we¬† can be honest, here. Not that I’m living through Winter just for gourmet vegetables. But just that it adds to the whole Spring thing that gets our rocks off every year.

The potted Daikon radish were a stumble-y learning process. After heavily thinning a forest of seedlings a couple of times, I got the total number of plants down to five evenly spaced nice specimens in one pot about 20 inches wide by 24 inches deep.

The potted daikons did much better than the ones sown in the garden proper. They grew fast and plowed through the enriched potting soil, and are rising up out of it like radish towers. The ones planted in the regular garden are looking like they’re having trouble making a decent root in that heavy clay. So from now on, my Daikon go in pots, or maybe very tall raised beds filled with looser media than my native soil.

Daikon Radish in a pot

Straw has been shoved into this pot about five inches deep to insulate the crowns from any real bad freezes.

I have picked two 2″ x 12″ Daikons in the past week. They were the smaller ones. The three that remain are thicker at the head and still enlarging. I’d like to see how big they get! I filled the top of the pot with hay to help keep the exposed radish heads out of the drying wind.

Since they’re not truly winter hardy, I’ll drag this pot up onto the enclosed unheated porch when it gets really cold out, just to keep them in good pickable shape longer. A root cellar is really the more ideal environment for this sort of thing, but I don’t have a root cellar. I have a porch.

The porch is not ideal, but it’s what I’ve got.

The porch is already housing artichokes, lavenders, and potted strawberries. Some are parked in this cheap plastic four-shelf greenhouse thing. I took the top shelf out because the artichoke seedlings are very tall. Hope they make it through the Winter. Never tried to overwinter them this way before but have a good feeling about it.


Found it hard to say goodbye to these tall, bright Dahlias that sweet Nancy gave me. So they got rescued too.


They look nice on the porch and I’m not ready to see them get killed by the cold just yet. There’s a rosemary and some other things on the porch too. More pots will be dragged in as the weather changes. Parsley. Cannas. Onions. By midwinter there’s quite a menagerie out there.

When Spring comes, I happily evict everybody. But right now, this is cozy.