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Suggestions for what to grow in winter

Suggestions for what to grow in winter
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  • Suggestions for what to grow in winter

    Post #1 - September 11th, 2012, 4:26 pm
    Post #1 - September 11th, 2012, 4:26 pm Post #1 - September 11th, 2012, 4:26 pm
    I am moving into a new place October 1st and we have a balcony so I am excited to get balcony flower and plant boxes and try to grow some things. Other than growing tomatoes back at my parent's house, I really have no experience with what to grow, especially in the colder months. I'm looking to grow things that I can use in the kitchen since I love to cook. Any suggestions on what to grow on a balcony in the fall and winter months of Chicago? Thanks!
  • Post #2 - September 18th, 2012, 8:48 pm
    Post #2 - September 18th, 2012, 8:48 pm Post #2 - September 18th, 2012, 8:48 pm
    We also do all our growing on a balcony. For fall/early winter, my suggestion is to try kale.

    Granted, we did not have a typical winter last year, but our kale kept producing until mid-January. Then we got a good, measurable snow and it died overnight. However, I think in most years, it would have been gone by Xmas.

    In general, kale loves cooler weather and will not succumb to a frost.
  • Post #3 - September 19th, 2012, 8:14 am
    Post #3 - September 19th, 2012, 8:14 am Post #3 - September 19th, 2012, 8:14 am
    Jasubar wrote:We also do all our growing on a balcony. For fall/early winter, my suggestion is to try kale.
    is there a particular kind of kale? I currently have the long stalk kale that doesn't look very hardy compared to the short squat kale I've sometimes seen.
    Last edited by Sweet Willie on September 21st, 2012, 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #4 - September 20th, 2012, 1:03 pm
    Post #4 - September 20th, 2012, 1:03 pm Post #4 - September 20th, 2012, 1:03 pm
    Commercial growers tend to use the large upright form of kale, often having bor in variety name, and harvest whole plants. For home gardens the Vates type has major advantages due to the smaller plants, ability to work well with harvesting individual leaves, easier to cover with floating row cover for cold protection and generally more tender leaves. Ornamental kale are squat, cold hardy and marginally edible due to strong flavor and tough leaves. Red Russian is pretty but low on flavor in my experience and was nowhere near as hardy as a blue-curled Vates when I grew both.
  • Post #5 - September 20th, 2012, 3:40 pm
    Post #5 - September 20th, 2012, 3:40 pm Post #5 - September 20th, 2012, 3:40 pm
    You could try growing icicles. LOL. Good luck!
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #6 - September 20th, 2012, 7:48 pm
    Post #6 - September 20th, 2012, 7:48 pm Post #6 - September 20th, 2012, 7:48 pm
    I just got my Blue Curled Scotch kale starts from Garden Harvest Supply: http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/ (as well as one complimentary start from the Chicago Botanical Garden).

    I also got a couple of Bloomsdale Heirloom spinach starts, as well as seed for more kale and spinach, and three kinds of hardy lettuce seeds, which I mixed and planted today as well.

    I know it's crazy late to get this started, but if we have another winter like last year's, I'll be glad I gave it a try!

    You can also do herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender.
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

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  • Post #7 - September 21st, 2012, 3:10 pm
    Post #7 - September 21st, 2012, 3:10 pm Post #7 - September 21st, 2012, 3:10 pm
    mamagotcha wrote:You can also do herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender.

    our rosemary went until January last year.

    This year in addition, I've got thyme, oregano & lavender, glad to know they can withstand the cold a bit.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #8 - September 21st, 2012, 3:56 pm
    Post #8 - September 21st, 2012, 3:56 pm Post #8 - September 21st, 2012, 3:56 pm
    We get rosemary and sage most of the winter along our south facing brick house.
  • Post #9 - October 8th, 2012, 6:14 pm
    Post #9 - October 8th, 2012, 6:14 pm Post #9 - October 8th, 2012, 6:14 pm
    Best options for winter are herbs and mesclin salad with lights or shrooms.
  • Post #10 - October 8th, 2012, 11:44 pm
    Post #10 - October 8th, 2012, 11:44 pm Post #10 - October 8th, 2012, 11:44 pm
    You are going to be out of luck in the dead of winter, to get anything to grow. If your balcony faces south, you can build a cold frame pretty easily, for lettuce and fresh greens.

    Image

    A window sash and a couple of small pieces of lumber/plywood is all you need to get started.

    It'll work down to the mid 20's but after that, it's touch and go....

    Good Luck,

    Tim
  • Post #11 - October 18th, 2012, 5:23 pm
    Post #11 - October 18th, 2012, 5:23 pm Post #11 - October 18th, 2012, 5:23 pm
    My kale and swiss chard are going strong. they like this weather. Unfortunately my kale is purple ornamental and I do not eat it. I avoid eating vegetables that are a different color than they are supposed to be. I only eat green kale.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #12 - January 16th, 2013, 6:39 pm
    Post #12 - January 16th, 2013, 6:39 pm Post #12 - January 16th, 2013, 6:39 pm
    Well January has finally killed the Kale and chard. Its just too cold for them. But they were going until December. One problem was they did not get enough moisture because I stopped watering them at some point. The red chard seemed more vigerous and hardy than the yellowish one.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #13 - January 16th, 2013, 9:33 pm
    Post #13 - January 16th, 2013, 9:33 pm Post #13 - January 16th, 2013, 9:33 pm
    toria wrote:Well January has finally killed the Kale and chard. Its just too cold for them. But they were going until December. One problem was they did not get enough moisture because I stopped watering them at some point. The red chard seemed more vigerous and hardy than the yellowish one.


    Amazingly, my kale is still hanging on. We do have ornamental kale (3 green/white plants and 3 purple plants) and we eat it shamelessly. I've actually heard that the purple variety is quite high in nutritional value.

    Our plants are in pots and I moved them a few days ago to sit right next to our sliding door. They probably stay somewhat warmer there. Even so, the leaves do get frozen, but they don't look droopy or wilty. We use them in soups, mostly.
  • Post #14 - January 17th, 2013, 8:37 am
    Post #14 - January 17th, 2013, 8:37 am Post #14 - January 17th, 2013, 8:37 am
    I have pots of herbs on my windowsill. Unfortunately I don't get much sun in my house at all. All my windows face N or S. I was very worried, all the thyme seemed to die off, but there is one sprig that is going. I don't know if it will produce anything useable, before I am able to move things outside in the spring. The rosemary and oregano seem to be doing OK.
    Leek

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  • Post #15 - January 17th, 2013, 10:42 am
    Post #15 - January 17th, 2013, 10:42 am Post #15 - January 17th, 2013, 10:42 am
    I've had better luck with winter herbs: In my south-facing dining room window I have a window box-style planter with chives (dormant), rosemary (robust), thyme (doing reasonably well) and basil (a few leaves hanging on yet, and a bunch of new seedlings sprouted). Plus, I can go out to the garden and grab a few sage leaves any time I want -- they're a little woodier during the cold months, but still plenty flavorful.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #16 - January 17th, 2013, 11:10 am
    Post #16 - January 17th, 2013, 11:10 am Post #16 - January 17th, 2013, 11:10 am
    I may have been looking at Pinterest too much, but I planted peas in yellow Solo cups on my kitchen windowsill. The peas are only 2 inches tall right now, but we put up strings for them to climb. My understanding is that peas will self-fertilize, so no bees are required. I'll post pictures later as the experiment matures. Peas in February would be something great!

    My tarragon is not doing very well indoors, so if anyone is having success with herbs indoors in low light (east- or west-facing windows), I would love to hear about it.

    Cheers, Jen
  • Post #17 - February 5th, 2013, 11:00 pm
    Post #17 - February 5th, 2013, 11:00 pm Post #17 - February 5th, 2013, 11:00 pm
    Pie-love wrote:My tarragon is not doing very well indoors, so if anyone is having success with herbs indoors in low light (east- or west-facing windows), I would love to hear about it.
    I have some Tarragon growing nicely in a south facing window. Unfortunately the leaves have none of the pungency they have when grown in the garden so it's kind of a hollow victory. Chives look really good and have some flavor. :D
  • Post #18 - February 6th, 2013, 9:07 pm
    Post #18 - February 6th, 2013, 9:07 pm Post #18 - February 6th, 2013, 9:07 pm
    Pie-love wrote:
    My tarragon is not doing very well indoors, so if anyone is having success with herbs indoors in low light (east- or west-facing windows), I would love to hear about it.

    I have some Tarragon growing nicely in a south facing window. Unfortunately the leaves have none of the pungency they have when grown in the garden so it's kind of a hollow victory.


    Tarragon is a perennial. It goes dormant in the winter. It also requires a great deal of sun - six hours a day minimum, just like roses or tomatoes - and loves heat and dry-ish soil. Most importantly, it is nearly impossible to grow from seed. If you did manage to grow it from seed (as opposed to via rooted cuttings, or a rhizome division), it's probably Russian tarragon, a mediocre (but easy to grow) substitute for the more robustly flavored French tarragon.

    Some plants just do not do well indoors. French tarragon is one of them.
  • Post #19 - March 1st, 2013, 1:55 pm
    Post #19 - March 1st, 2013, 1:55 pm Post #19 - March 1st, 2013, 1:55 pm
    sundevilpeg wrote:
    Pie-love wrote:

    Tarragon is a perennial. It goes dormant in the winter. It also requires a great deal of sun - six hours a day minimum, just like roses or tomatoes - and loves heat and dry-ish soil. Most importantly, it is nearly impossible to grow from seed. If you did manage to grow it from seed (as opposed to via rooted cuttings, or a rhizome division), it's probably Russian tarragon, a mediocre (but easy to grow) substitute for the more robustly flavored French tarragon.

    Some plants just do not do well indoors. French tarragon is one of them.

    Definitely French Tarragon from a plant I bought last spring. I waited for it to go dormant (well past, actually) and dug up the spot where it grew and found a tangled mass of roots about the diameter of a pencil lead. I divided and planted and they are doing fine. Except that the wonderful tarragon flavor is just a whisper of what it was in the garden. Atmosphere in the house is dry enough but sun is lacking. Might be on the cool side as well.

    thanks,
    hank
  • Post #20 - March 1st, 2013, 4:20 pm
    Post #20 - March 1st, 2013, 4:20 pm Post #20 - March 1st, 2013, 4:20 pm
    I grew oyster mushrooms in my shower this winter, which amused people who visited my bathroom greatly. I don't get very much light so it was the perfect thing to grow. I'd used the pre-prepared substrates you can get at Whole Foods before, but this time I did my own with a DIY substrate kit from http://theimaginaryfarmer.com/. I got two great batches that had really great flavor– you can't get this variety in a store and the aroma is a bit off-putting, but it has a flavor like soy sauce and Thai fish sauce. However, just as two more batches were fruiting I stupidly left the window open and they froze and since then the block hasn't fruited. Supposedly they otherwise would do really well on a balcony, provided you bring them in when it hits freezing...but that's most of the time in Chicago winter. Fall might work OK though. I'm saving the latent substrate until the weather gets a little better and then I'll put it outside and the kit claims that might allow it to fruit again.


    I'm going to this workshop sunday and will start a new batch http://www.meetup.com/chicagolandpermac ... &_af=event

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