Winter Gardening

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

download (1)Greetings. As we head into colder weather, I imagine that most of you have shut down your gardens for the year, awaiting spring once again. I have to confess that I haven’t; but then again, I live in a warmer climate, where I can garden much later in the year. But that got me thinking; in a survival situation, living where I do gives me a big advantage, as I can garden pretty much year round.

When we talk about gardening from a survival point of view, we want to get the most out of our gardens. That’s food to feed our families with; and while it may not make for as enjoyable diet as bacon and steaks, it will keep us alive. But keeping us alive means big harvests and lots of them.

There are things that we can do, all of us, which will allow us to increase our harvests and even garden year-round. While I might have some advantages, due to where I live, that’s not to say that others, who live in colder climates, have to succumb to the cold weather. We humans have been subduing nature for a long time, so why should we stop now?

If you think about it, your home is a testimony against how mankind has worked to defeat nature. Not only does it keep wild animals out, but much more importantly, your home keeps the weather out. Regardless of what things are like outside, you can be comfortable inside.

So, why not apply that same technology to our gardening? What stops us from gardening in the winter is the cold weather. That cold freezes the water in the plants, bursting cell walls and killing the plants. If we can provide those plants an environment which stays above freezing, the plants will be able to grow year-round. While plant growth will slow in colder months, it won’t stop altogether.

There are three basic ways of providing such an environment for our gardens. Any one of them will work, or we could use a combination of all three:

  • Greenhouses – The greenhouse was first developed in Ancient Rome for the express purpose of growing cucumbers in the wintertime. If they could do it, why can’t we?
  • Indoor Gardening – Many types of fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers, which means that we can move them indoors. As long as they get enough sunlight, being indoors won’t harm them. The one thing we would have to do is move them outdoors to pollinate or pollinate them by hand.
  • A Sun Room – Adding a sun room to the south side of your home is like attaching a greenhouse to it. The big advantage of this over other greenhouses, is that it can share heat with your home. So, the greenhouse would be much warmer than normal.

If you want to garden year-round with a greenhouse, you’re probably going to have to add some additional heat to it. The greenhouse itself is a passive solar building, but it may not produce enough heat for your plants. There are a number of things you can do, which will increase the amount of heat inside your greenhouse.

  • Compost – Top your garden beds with a good layer of compost, just before the cold weather hits. The bacteria which break down the organic matter in the compost produce a lot of heat, which will help keep your plants, especially the roots, warm.
  • Black Mulch – Putting down black mulch or some other black material in the passageways between your garden beds increases the amount of sunlight that is absorbed and converted to heat.
  • More Plastic – Adding a second layer of clear plastic to the outside of your greenhouse creates an air space between the two layers, much like a double-pane window. While not the world’s greatest insulation, it is much better than just one layer.
  • Insulation – The north wall of your greenhouse isn’t going to absorb any sunlight, as the sun is in the south. Rather than allowing heat to escape through this wall, cover it with styrofoam insulation and keep that heat inside.
  • Black Barrels – Make some solar absorbers by filling black plastic barrels with water and placing them in your greenhouse. The sun hitting the barrels will warm the water inside. This heat will radiate into the greenhouse long after the sun sets, keeping things warm.
  • Add a Heater – When all else fails, consider adding a heater to your greenhouse. The key is to use something energy efficient enough that the produce you receive will pay for it.

Between these ideas, you should be able to raise the temperature inside your greenhouse considerably. Of course, how much effect that has will depend a lot on the ambient winter temperature where you live. People who are far enough north aren’t going to be able to create a warm enough environment for growing in a greenhouse, no matter what they do. But they can still grow indoors or attach a sun room to their home.

Don’t let yourself be defeated by the weather. Put your imagination to work and figure out how to defeat it. Remember, this is survival we’re talking about. The price of failure is just too high. So, don’t fail. Find a way; and don’t forget to keep your powder dry and your survival equipment close at hand.

Dr. Rich

Also, if you really want to be able to grow in the winter, try this little trick.

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