School gardeners are often asked, especially at this time of year, “So what are you going to do in the winter?”
Without a doubt, Upstate New York winter narrows our options. But choosing the right plants and providing them with a measure of protection can stretch the growing season into pretty chilly months. Thus, the Garden Club at Albany High School ought to be able to get one more harvest of leafy greens in tomorrow, even after temperatures in the mid-20s the past couple of nights. What is still healthy enough to serve? Arugula, spinach, kale, bok choy and chard at Albany High, planted in late August and September. Add carrots, leeks, lettuce, turnips and collards to that list over at Myers Middle School. And how long will each of these last? Covered with a garden fabric, or better yet, under small greenhouse-like structures, anywhere from a couple more weeks to straight through the winter, depending on the plant.
A big challenge is in building structures that are close to weather tight, but also provide ventilation on sunny days. Too hot, just like your car in a sunny parking lot in the summer, is as big a worry as too cold. Fortunately, we learn a bit more about designing and building our mini-greenhouses from year to year.
And when getting outdoors is really difficult? We will grow herbs and leafy greens under lights indoors. We will collect seeds. We’ll study about soil. We will find plenty worth doing.