It's time to get those winter crops into the ground, aiming for 75% maturity before we reach the Persephone Period.
You probably remember the story of Persephone. Abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld, her mother, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, became infuriated and made the earth barren.
Zeus tried to intervene, but Persephone had already eaten those pomegranate seeds, binding her to Hades for a third of the year. Upon her return in the spring, her mother was happy and made the earth lush again.
Ergo - the Persephone Period is when we drop below 10 hours of daylight. Once we fall below that, plants don't really grow; they more or less maintain. Therefore, the goal is to get those plants to 75% maturity before November 10, 2016, for our area.
There are essentially two types of crops to plant this time of year: winter harvest crops and overwintered crops. Winter harvest are, of course, for harvesting over the winter. Overwintered crops are for an early spring start. We planted a little of both at the garden. Both are grown in high tunnels, like our unheated hoop house at the garden, or in cold frames or low tunnels.
At the NECIC Blust Avenue Teaching Garden, we pulled the warm season stuff out of the hoop house the week of September 12. The sweet potatoes are still there and growing, but the rest, sadly, had to go to make room for the winter crops.
Of course, some varieties of things tend to overwinter better than other varieties. For example, I had far better luck overwintering Red Russian Kale than Toscano Kale.
Here's what we've started in the hoop house:
Arugula - Roquette
Carrots - Napoli
Cilantro - Santo
Collard Greens - Champion
Green Onions - Everhardy white bunching
Kale - Red Russian
Lettuce- A mix of downy mildew resistant varieties from Johnny's Seeds
Radishes - Easter Egg, Watermelon, and French Breakfast
Spinach - Corvair
Swiss Chard - Fordhook
Greens - Mix includes Mustard, Pac Choy, Mizuna, and Leaf Broccoli
Turnips - Purple Top White Globe
Beets - Bull's Blood
Everything is doing well and germinating nicely.
There are approximately 6 weeks left until the Persephone Period, but you still have time to plant a few things. Spinach, kale, tatsoi, cress, arugula, mizuna, lettuce, chard, and radishes can at least reach the baby stage before Persephone is upon us.
When harvesting over winter, one thing to remember is not to harvest while those veggies are frozen. If you cut while frozen, you'll get something similar to that nasty frozen spinach that comes in a block and melts into mush. Wait until the sun hits them and they thaw before harvesting.
Remember, if you have questions, we have a teaching garden and we are here for you! Email Candace@necic-ohio.org or call 419-525-3101 and ask for Candace, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have, or give you a tour of the garden at your convenience.