Greenhouse Supplies

Harvesting Cool Weather Crops Before Hot Summer Days

Late March Planting = June and July Harvesting

I am not a sophisticated vegetable gardener. My growing expertise focuses on perennials, shrubs and trees. Vegetable and fruit gardening needs to be simple for me to enjoy. If you want to be successful in growing your own crops, I recommend starting off with radishes, swiss chard, and snap peas.  The seeds are large, easy to handle and have a high success rate.  I find it fun to get the family involved and a great way to encourage future generations to get bit by the gardening bug…


General Planting Tips for Cool Weather Veggies 

startswood-template• Look for seeds that are “open pollinated” or marked “organic”.

• Radishes, chard and peas are considered ‘cool’ weather crops. They can be grown through summer months in succession or you can rotate your crops after harvesting has occurred. I am now planting carrots in place of the radishes. The peas are still producing in mid-July. The chard can be harvested almost year-round.

• Make sure to add compost to give them a rich home to develop strong root systems.

• Build the soil up in rows and into little mounds with compost.

• Take a 6″ wide piece of wood with notches carved into it at every 12″ to use as a template for sowing seeds. Placing the wood sideways twice will calculate 1’ space you need between rows so you can walk through them easily for harvesting and weeding later.

• Water daily to establish seedlings and then whenever the temperature rises over 80 degrees. Check the water saturation level by driving a dry #2 pencil into the soil and see how far it comes out wet. This trick will let you know how far your watering has penetrated into the soil.

• Mark rows with recycled plastic forks to hold seed packets.


Radish flowers Weeding, Pests and Diseases

radish-flowers• It’s important to keep weeds down so veggie starts can grow as fast as possible. Hand weeding is recommended on all produce.

• Slugs seem particularly fond of young radishes and will nibble on the “fruit” exposed about the soil line. Putting a clean tuna fish can filled with cheap beer will keep the slugs occupied.

• I find it strange that I scrutinize produce at the local grocery store or farmer’s market, but have no problem accepting defects in my own produce. I do not spray for pests or diseases’, so keeping an eye on developing plants is critical. Using a floating row cover may be desirable if you notice heavy pest damage early on.

• Water early in the morning to keep fungal diseases to a minimum.



Radishes Raphanus sativus

French Breakfast Radishes“Petit Dejeuner”French variety that can either grow long or round. They have distinctive white bands at the bottom followed by deep red to the leafy green tops. Rainbow Radishes‘Easter Egg II’ These little beauties come in a variety of colors ranging from white, shades of pink, cherry red, deep burgundy, and violet. Exactly round they all have brilliant white centers no matter the outside coloring. 
radish-dej radish-easter


Planting February – May    (spring harvest), August – October (fall harvest)
Did You Know?  Radishes will be spicier in hot weather as opposed to being harvested in cooler temperatures.
Thinning  Thinning is really hard as I want everything to grow and succeed in my garden. But if you do not thin, your radishes will be thin and weak.After 3 weeks, take every 2-3 seedling out and leave on with 1” space between each.
Bolting If radishes are not thinned properly, they will be weak, skinny and small.
Flowers I let a few go to flower to see what the flowers looked like. The flower heads are simple 4 petal flowers either in pink or white. Seed pods grow along the length of the extended stem. While still fleshy, you can eat these as well. Pods have the typical radish bite flavor, but are similar to miniature pea pods.
Harvesting Tops of the radishes should peek from the ground. This variety is the size of marbles when mature. Can harvest in succession.
Uses Radishes are great eaten whole, used on sandwiches or sliced in salads. They can be used in bunches to create a wreath to hang on the door for a unique decoration.
Storage Tips To keep fresh, store fruit in a cold bath of water in refrigerator for up to three weeks.


Swiss Chard Beta vulgaris

Rainbow Chard‘Bright Lights’Stalks come in a vivid range of yellow, pink, red, yellow and orange.  Large, dark green ribbed leaves. Container Chard‘Easter Egg II’ Brilliant gold stems hold deep green and ribbed leaves. This particular variety is great either in the ground or in containers for small, urban gardens.  
chard-rainbow chard-gold1


Planting February – September  Chard does well in containers and in the ground. Hard seed kernels are easy for little fingers to handle.
Did You Know?  Chard heirloom varieties harkens from New Zealand.
Thinning  Thinning to 8” apart to allow for ample growth. Bolting One main stem will shoot up a flower spike. To keep chard leaves tender, remove any flowering stem. Flowers Will spring up from a flowering stem. Cut the flower stalk off and use it in an arrangement.
Harvesting Chard can be a perennial in the right conditions. If the winter is mild, it may grow back again the next spring.Continually harvesting will produce shorter, sweeter leaves and stems.
Uses Chard is great in salads or steamed like spinach. It can be used in soups or lasagna.
Storage Tips To extend life, cut stems and store in a glass of water with stems submerged.


Peas Pisum sativum

Edible Pod Bush Peas  ‘Sugar Sprint’peas

• A stringless pea variety that is great to grow on bamboo trellises, or iron teepees covered in netting to give the vines something to scramble up on.

• Make sure to train the vines when small to grow upward.

• Large seeds can be pushed directly in soil with a #2 pencil. Mark 1.5″ up the pencil to make sure they are consistently sown to the same depth.

Planting  February – May (spring harvest), July – August (fall harvest) Soak seeds in water for at least one hour prior to planting. Grows to 24” – 30” tall.
Did You Know? Peas are nitrogen fixing so not only do they provide food, they supply nutrients for the soil as well.
Thinning Thinning to 2” apart to allow for ample growth.
Flowers  Simple, pure white pea flowers will cover the vines and be replaced with pea pods.
Harvesting Grab a bowl and pluck plump pea pods off the vines.
Uses Sugar snap peas can be eaten right off the vine and may not make it to the dinner table.They are great in stir fry, salads, dips or served steamed with butter.
Storage Tips Place in Ziploc bag in refrigerator or freezer to use later.


Learn More

For Pacific Northwest seed choices; visit the following seed companies online:

• Renee’s Garden

• Territorial Seeds

• Ed Hume Seeds

• Seeds of Change

Great books to research include:

• The Edible Garden, Sunset Books

• Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, Steve Solomon

Help Your Neighbor

Are your beds overflowing with fruits and veggies? Do the neighbors close the blinds and won’t answer the door when you come knocking with zucchini in a basket? Don’t waste that produce!


logo_par_1Plant a Row for the Hungry is a non-profit cause led by Garden Writers of America. Since 1995, over 14 million pounds of produce providing over 50 million meals have been donated by American gardeners.

Please consider planting one extra row of food to donate to those who need it most. Check with your local food bank or better yet, independent garden center that move local produce to people in need.

Feedback: Have you had any experience with growing cool weather crops in your garden or greenhouse? I would love to hear your experience and comments!
Garden and pea photos taken by Dawn Hummel. Radish and chard photos provided by Renee’s Garden.
Greenhouse Kits Greenhouses

Enjoy Winter Crops With A Greenhouse

Millions of gardeners consider the winter months to be a quiet and desolate time in the greenhouse. However, there is no reason a great gardener shouldn’t enjoy the cold weather with winter crops. Even during the coldest months of the year, gardeners can plant winter crops to enjoy colorful and delicious plants. Depending on if you live in a harsh winter climate or not, you may even be able to grow a multitude of plants even without a heated greenhouse.

Choosing Plants

When you’re interested in growing winter crops in your greenhouse, choosing the right type of plant to work with is essential. Reading about the various winter varieties is important if you want your garden to thrive. Be sure you’re growing your plants at the appropriate temperature by using an inexpensive gardening thermometer. Many times if your local gardening center doesn’t offer plants during the winter you can order them via seed catalog companies. The seed catalogs should tell you exactly where each plant will thrive, and during which seasons. Thus, the choices of what to plant become easier.

Vegetables to try in cold-weather greenhouses:
Brussels Sprouts
Fava Beans

Flowers to try in cold-weather greenhouses:
Christmas Cactus
Sweet Pea

Winter Crop Needs

Various plants will have different requirements and needs when grown in the winter months or in a cold-weather greenhouse. As a general rule, you’ll need to reduce the amount of water you provide during warmer seasonal growing. Most often, the first inch of soil should be dry before you give the plants water again. During the cold months, plants will grow slower and require less fertilizer, as well. In fact, many plants will survive and grow well without fertilizer is you provide organic content in the gardening soil. Remember, though the weather temperatures are cooler in winter months, there will still need to be some sort of ventilation possible for your plants. Plants require fresh carbon dioxide and gas exchange for them to be able to photosynthesize properly.
Planting and tending to winter crops during the dreary cold months can be a great way to stay active and happy during the harsh winter weather. Not only can winter crops provide entertainment for a gardener, but they can also provide delicious vegetables throughout the winter months when grocery vegetables are at their highest prices. So, essentially gardening in the winter can save your family money! Just be sure you think fully about what you’re going to plant and how you’ll tend to them before jumping into this gardening task.