Winter Gardening: Not Just For The Strong

Author: Serina Penner  •  Date: November 13, 2014  •  Appears in: Community, Farmers

Winter Gardening: Not Just For The Strong

I’m sure everyone is enjoying a break from their daily garden tasks. That being said, the idea of having to buy kale from the grocery store again is disturbing. While tomatoes and zucchini are out the window, there are still some hardy stocks that grow throughout the Canadian Winters. Provided they are given a little love of course.

I bet you’re thinking, “There isn’t enough love to save my veggies from -20”. While, yes, it is true: the colder you get the bigger your heart must be. It is also true that hoop houses, soil with a plethora of organic fertilizers, and as much sun exposure as possible can create and environment where things can grow. And don’t forget: snow is natural insulation. It may sound a little daunting, but it’s really not as bad as it seems.

First up, making the hoop house. You can use anything you’d like to make the raised bed; I’ve seen everything from old bed frames to pallets being used. Just be sure that the raised bed portion of the hoop house is at least 12 inches above the ground.

Second up, measure it so you’ll know how much irrigation hose, or PVC, you’ll be needing. You can always guestimate as to the length, just be sure to have them cut in equal lengths when you get them cut. With beds that are 6 feet long, you will have enough room to put three sections of hoop. Anything shorter and you’ll only need 2.

Material List:

  • ½ inch diameter dowel. A single 4ft piece is enough to anchor up to 12 hoops.
  • 1 ½ inch corner brackets, you will need two for each hoop
  • 50ft in length (on average, depending how wide your hoop house is)
  • Clear plastic sheeting, I use the 4 mil in a 10’ x 25’ roll

Tool List:

  • Saw (miter saw is fastest, but a hand saw would work too)
  • Drill w/ 1/8" bit
  • Phillips head screw driver
  • Razor / knife

Step 1:

Cut the ½” dowel rod into 4” segments.

Drill a hole in the end of the dowl using a 1/8” drill bit.

Mount the dowel segment on the outside hold of one another.

Step 2:

Mount the dowels on the outside of the raised beds.

Place one approx. every 2-3 feet.

Step 3: 

Run the irrigation hose between dowels.

Cover with the tarp when down and be sure to attach the plastic in a way where you can have easy access to your fresh veg underneath.

Now that your hoop house is up and planted, what can you plant for the Winter months? Here‘s a list of mighty greens that will forge forward, even in the cold.

  • Brassicas (broccoli, rapini, brussel sprouts, cabbages, kohl rabi)
  • Root vegetables (turnips, rutabagas, carrots, beets, radishes, parsnips)
  • Greens (kale, bok choy, collards, swiss chard, spinach, arugula)

And remember: your raised beds will work great in the Spring and Summer for growing lettuce!

Serina Penner


Farmer Freedom Fighter, Serina spends most of her days weeding in her strawberry patch at Jackalope Farms, roaming the orchards of Paynters Fruit Market, or on her computer writing about her daily experiences in the Okanagan.
Read more by Serina Penner

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