How Do You Grow Food In The Winter ❄️



  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,911 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't have any experience with Gardyn, but I am always suspicious of this kind of overly-complex system. If it gets people started in gardening who otherwise wouldn't garden, great.

    But anyone on TGN has access to enough information to put together a good garden, inside or out, more simply, cheaply and reliably. I'd suggest going that route instead of trying to take a "Gardyn magic" shortcut. :-)

  • Jack_Went_Splat
    Jack_Went_Splat Posts: 59 ✭✭✭

    We are looking to sprouting for supplementing our food supply this year. The idea of quail had never occurred to me but, what a good idea compared to chickens right now. We want chickens in the future but they are so dusty and wasteful when it comes to food.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy I am sure there is a way to make this. The price is totally something I could never think of. But I do love people being able to garden anywhere.

    I have seen those Miracle grow Set ups made quite cheaply. I spin off from that with lighting would probably work.

    @Jack_Went_Splat There are set ups you can make that stop chicken food waste, but when dealing with space, quail are nice and much quieter and not as messy. The only disadvantage I see with them is they are hard to hatch out eggs so you need to become an expert with an incubator or replace your quail quite regularly.

  • Voodoo Flóra
    Voodoo Flóra Posts: 258 ✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant where did you learn how to build greenhouses? I want to grow a wide variety of things in my greenhouses, from natives to exotics. PAC NW region zone 8 is a pretty good climate for building a greenhouse that can grow a variety of life I think. We want to build one greenhouse south-facing alongside our pole barn and another smaller kitchen greenhouse off the south-east facing corner of the house. Do you recommend any books on the topic? What are like your top five general tips? Is there anything you definitely would not grow in a greenhouse in either my zone / region or otherwise? Thanks for your time Denise and would very much appreciate any advice on greenhouse building.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,911 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If you eat sprouts regularly, as we do in winter, you will go through a lot of seed. I'm not in a position to grow quantities of seeds for most of my sprout varieties, so I stock up every fall.

    A single shelf of jars will easily create sprouts and shoots for winter and beyond.

    You are right that being self-sufficient in seeds to sprout would be challenging. You would need space enough to grow the plants all the way to the seed-producing phase. For some types, particularly onions, it is impossible to store them for extended periods without losing viability.

    On the other hand, some varieties, such as buckwheat, are extremely good at producing seeds in quantity with very little effort. So you could grow a winter's worth in a modest outdoor space during the warm season, and sprout the seeds the following winter.

  • DurwardPless
    DurwardPless Posts: 162 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    @torey Thank you for the links to the good books on sprouting green.


  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    Depending on your budget and space, a simple greenhouse shouldn't be too much of a challenge. Simplest (IMO) is a Quonset style... simply make a frame of treated 2x6's (7 feet wide, about 8 feet long will give you approximately a 6 foot center height; you can make it longer if you want) and using 2 cattle panels, create an "arch" for the frame (cattle panels at TSC generally run about $20 each). Use fencing staples to secure the panels at the bottom inside the frame. I used wood chips from another local mill on the ground... about 6 inches deep in my case. To cover the cattle panel frame, heavy duty plastic sheeting will work for a year or two before it breaks down from the sun. The attached photo shows a Quonset storage shed I converted last month to a greenhouse. I had initially covered the cattle panels with reclaimed roofing tin, plus cheap rough cut planks from a local mill. This fall I removed several of the tin panels on the south side and replaced them with PVC roofing panels. Not cheap... 3 of them ran me about $100. But (in my case) since I already had the rest of it built, it was do-able even on my limited budget! Not fancy, but it's working!

    If you have a larger budget and building skills, Ana White has a set of free plans on her website, plus a second concept for sale. Free is good. All the best!


  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    This is my first year to seriously try to grow throughout the winter. First I converted a simple Quonset storage hut to a "greenhouse" of sorts. I moved all my frost tender plants into it, and I'm also trying to keep a few herbs, a couple of peppers, and a couple of tomatoes. I just purchased seed for a self-polinating cucumber (Beit Alpha) which I'm going to try to get going in there as well.

    Second, just yesterday I completed and planted an elevated bed. It's only 2'x4', and about 9 inches deep, but I think it should keep the two of us in basic salad greens. I plan to make a hinged dome lid for it to provide protection from dipping night-time temperatures and marauding day time chickens! Currently, however, I simply have it covered with a reclaimed window. It is simply laying on the frame but propped up on the near edge for ventilation as long as temps stay mild. I hope to be able to make a couple of more of these beds... but realistically I probably won't get the done in time for this winter. Perhaps for spring seed starts, though!

    Finally, I just placed a seed order and included several new varieties which are reported to be very winter hardy. I'll try these in the ground with minimal protection. Among these are a couple of kales and "tatsoi", which was listed as "extremely cold tolerant...shines through tough winters". (Does anyone have experience with tatsoi?)

    Speaking of poultry... I'm thinking of trying a light on a timer in my chicken coop to keep the fresh eggs coming. I just dried up the last of my milking goats, but I have a pretty good supply of frozen milk. My first kids will be in January, so I'll be back into fresh milk by Feb 1. All in all -- milk, eggs, some fresh produce... I'm happy!

  • Gil Montano
    Gil Montano Posts: 39 ✭✭✭

    Since I live in a place where the cold never drops below 0 degrees, I can plant almost everything in the year, I only have to observe the crops that are recommended in each season, including winter

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,225 ✭✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft I brought in all Swiss Chard, some Spinach and some Kale. The Swiss Chard and Spinach are doing great and I have taken two cuttings of all of it. Sadly the Kale is going away. I have placed the dishpan with dirt and vegetables in a South facing window so it can get light. In Oregon we have had more sun this year than most. I have 2 Spinach plants that are doing well outside but the Kale outside is not doing well either. I have read about kale having flowers and harvesting seeds from the flowers. I have never seen flowers on the Kale. Do the flowers come at the end of Kale or somewhere in between? Has anyone harvested seed from Kale before?

    COWLOVINGIRL Posts: 954 ✭✭✭✭

    @spanthegulf I love your greenhouse!

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My quail are producing 3 to 4 eggs a weekeach in the winter. I love these boiled and used for snacks.

    I am not that handy with an incubator so give the eggs to a small silkie to hatch out. Thye love sitting on eggs and make a great mom.

    Quail are consided mature at 7 weeks so its a fast meat source if that is of interest.

    I have a friend who lives in a city and started out with quail since they are small, take little space and quite quiet

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Marjory WildcraftNov 9, 2020


    has anyone raised quail in an apartment for eggs? they are small and quiet. Not a huge amount, but at least its something. If cared for properly I think the smell could be managed without issue... Sort of like keeping a parrot or other big bird?

    I think it is possible indoors. I've raised them outside easily enough. And I'm wondering if anyone has experience raising them indoors? We definitely need more solutions for growing food in apartments - I get questions on that all the time."


    In the winter it can be brutal here and my barn collapsed, leaving me short of space - so right now I have 7 quail in a small cage in the basement (spare canning kitchen) The cage is about 2 foot long by one foot wide by one foot tall. Thye have plenty of room and are happy. I know from the eggs they are laying. The cage is made so the eggs rool out the front for easy harvesting. Its set up about 1/2 inch and I place a tray underneath to catch any dropping and change it out before there is any smell. I use free sawdust for the bedding on the tray.

    The tray was made from hardware cloth cut and put together with small strip ties. It cost about $10 to make.

    I also have a small silkie in another cage which I plan in a few weeks to start hatching out quail by using her as the "mom"

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant Thank you for the information. I looked up silkies; they are adorable.

  • AngelaOston
    AngelaOston Posts: 247 ✭✭✭

    My indoor growing is now soil sprouts. Buckwheat is great is the cheapest and most prolific and a little more salad like. - ordered a bag sack last year so do 3 - 10inch by 10inch trays So great to have some fresh greens in the winter.

  • Gail H
    Gail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    Our house is passive solar and the entire south wall is glass. I'm pretty spoiled; I can grow a lot of things without any additional light. I can even grow little currant tomatoes. I've found that things that are small when mature do much better. To that end, I may start some Mexican sour gherkins this week.

    I feed the plants by watering them with tiny amounts of honey, syrup, sourdough and kefir. Whenever I measure out any of those things or finish a container of them, I rinse the container with a lot of water and use that to water everything.

    Outside, I can keep quite a few greens going. I am going to try to plant some Claytonia (Miner's lettuce) today. I also planted mache, so perhaps I'll harvest some of that.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Gail H interesting water mix you have I may have to try that

    Love those Mexican Sour Gerkins!

    This week I am doing sprouts and starting an early tomato indoors. I will probably use aquaponics or hydroponics for the tomato in my climate (zone 5B). They seem to do better with these growing processes. This tomato I have is an early producrre so if I start in now I can move it out later and have tomatoes in a greenhouse in May. Indoors it will be mid march for a nice supply

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    Freeze tolerant Kale (at least until the deer find it).

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    Awhile ago, I posted that I was going to get a mushroom kit and try that for providing winter food.

    Well, I got two kits. Blue Oyster Mushroom and Lion's Mane. This is a pic of the oysters.

    They took a bit longer than it said in the instructions for them to grow but other than that they are doing as advertised. We'll see how many flushes I get out of this one block.

    The Lion's Mane block is much slower growing. I think it has been too cold for it where I had them. It needs warmer temps than the oysters apparently. I have moved it to a warmer spot to see if it does any better.

    I don't think this is a particularly cost effective way of growing but now that I have done the kit thing, I have more confidence about getting spawn and innoculating a growing medium.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭

    @Denise Grant How do you build an underground greenhouse?

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @teachercaryn there are so many ways to make an underground greenhouse.

    A very easy way that is more of a small greenhouse is using an old trampoline, dig a hole the size of the greenhouse and place the trampoline in the hole. I had a friend that did this but my concern was the walls. He also lived in a warmer area so light to produce heat was not as important. I'll see if I can find that info

    Here are two links for walapinis or underground greenhouses

    If you have an old foundation you can use that. If you have hills like I do, you can dig and build into a bank that will give you a dirt bank. The north side should be soil and the front you have more open to get in sun. Most pit greenhouse are about 4 foot into the ground. It gives you heat from the ground.

    Like any DIY project I also ways look for the most frugal optiong that fits my area and life. I can get unlimited pallets and old windows. (Most greenhouse of any kind no longer have glass roofs. (hail and wind and cause issues)

    There are many article out there. Many pt houe can be built for $300 to $700 dollars. Additional heating and lighting may make it cost more. And as with any building project you have to check regulations.

    Also drainage or lack of drainage is important in the design. ( I have to much water here)

    The academy here has a section on a pit greenhouse.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 916 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow! I’d need a ladder. I’d be distracted looking into the walls for tiny critters, and spend a lot of time in the pit; planting, figuring out a watering system, gazing and letting the creative juices flow with ideas. I like the raised beds. I’d incorporate lasagna composting. Lovely!

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Your area would be perfect for a pit greenhouse @teachercaryn . Love your ideas.

    Now it needs a hobbit house!~