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Plant now to eat fresh this winter

Get those cold weather crops in the ground, such as kale, garlic, onions and other "roots and leaves".

It's prime time to plant native grasses, trees, and flowering perennials, and its also a great time to plan and plant your fall and winter vegetable gardens.  You can eat fresh year round by growing cool weather crops and implementing simple techniques that extend the growing season.


Climate Considerations

There is a variety of climates in the greater Albuquerque area, and, since climate is an important factor in deciding what you are able to grow and when, figuring out what climate zone you live in, is imperative.

Even within the City of Albuquerque there are a variety of planting zones with different average frost dates.  "In Albuquerque, frost in the Valley happens much sooner compared to the NE heights and the mesa," said Eric Garretson, local grower and director of the Downtown Growers Market.   He said that average frost days for the Albuquerque region range from the end of August to the last week in October.  When the frost will actually occur depends on the year as well as your particular location. 

So how will you know?  One of the best ways is through experience growing at that specific location and by keeping an eye on the weather.  It's also a good idea to ask other growers in your area.  Check out these helpful online resources as well:

  • NMSU Cooperative Extension has two great resources to check out: Home Vegetable Gardening in New Mexico and its companion article on growing zones, planting schedules, and recommended crop varieties.
  • The Albuquerque Area Master Gardeners have a garden calender with seasonal planting tips, as well as an article on planting cool season crops.
  • Sunset Magazine has a great article on cool season vegetable planting, which includes a variety of tips, garden plans, and a planting schedule.

Manipulating your Climate

Yes, climate change may be negative on the global scale, but it is wonderful when you do it on the micro-level to extend the growing season of your garden.  You can easily create a micro-climate in a variety of ways ranging from using warm south-facing walls, to hoop houses, cold frames, and heated green houses. Green houses can be the most expensive, but there are many low cost ways to extend your growing season.

  • Mother Earth News has great articles on extending growing seasons and non-greenhouse season extension.
  • Kidsgardening.com lists season extension projects for kids.

Start Today 

Imagine the joy you will have serving up salad greens and other fresh vegetables this holiday season.  Growing food this fall and winter is well worth the effort and its not as difficult as it may sound.  The biggest challenge is deciding on and implementing the season extension method that works best for you. Once that is done, you may even find winter gardening easier than summer gardening due to decreased plant pressures related to water, bugs, and excess heat.  So what are you waiting for?  Get growing today!



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