Living on the 44th latitude, on the Great Plains of Sioux Falls, South Dakota brought the inevitable this week. The Sioux Falls schools canceled school Tuesday. Wednesday there was a two-hour delay. I’ve called AAA not once, but twice, with vehicles stuck in snow drifts.
But my outdoor garden still flourishes and my family continues to eat fresh spinach, sweet potatoes and eggs- a testament to God’s creation being more hearty than my Toyota Sequoia!
Successfully living off the land with extremes in temperatures requires gleaning wisdom about how to keep plants and animals alive and flourishing. Critical to my winter gardening success is a book called Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. On his Four Season Farm in Harborside, (Brooksville), Maine, he produces year-round vegetable under harsh winter conditions, using unheated and minimally heated greenhouse structures.
His success in winter gardening (also on the 44th latitude) was passed down to another of my inspirations: Eliot’s daughter Clara Coleman. is also an inspiration to me. A second-generation American organic farmer, consultant, writer, TEDx and keynote speaker on sustainable four-season farming, she hosted a webinar to further elaborate her technique.
Her favorite winter crops are listed here: carrots, spinach, kale, radish, arugula, swiss chard, lettuce, mache, beet greens, asian greens and leeks. I have planted and extended the season of all these cold tolerant plants, enjoying kale, arugula and swiss chard until the end of December. Far and away, the hardiest and most versatile has been spinach and parsley. Both were planted with seeds at the end of July 2015 and continue to thrive in my unheated greenhouse on this cold February day.
Other resources I’d like to check out include: