January is a perfect month to grow Carrots, Broccoli and Tomatoes. Why should you only eat fresh veggies in the spring and summer? Mild climate states (regions that rarely reach below 25 degress farenheit during the winter) can grow vegetables year round. The trick is knowing when and how to cover them. All of the brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, collards, turnips and bok choy are great candidates for winter gardens. So are root crops, such as carrots, radishes, parsnips, beets, onions, potatoes and leeks. Many greens, including lettuce, spinach, mustard, mache (corn salad) and Swiss chard, like it cold, too. These vegetables can grow under mild winter conditions, but need to be covered during a hard freeze.You can use old sheets, blankets and afghans to cover young plants. Do not use plastic mulch as nighttime protection the plastic conducts cold to any plant it touches.Sheets aren’t the only option for winter protection.Try sowing spinach and oats together in the fall, and when the oats are winter-killed, they will fall over and cover the spinach. A mixture of ryegrass and clover forms an even denser mat of protection. No matter what technique you choose, one of the keys to overwintering success is to gradually acclimate the plants to the cold. That’s why they’ll need more protection from an early cold snap than a later one. Row covers are an excellent way to cover your young plants, when first seeding your garden.
If you live in a state or region that is known for its brutal winter weather, greenhouses are a wonderful option for year round gardening. Greenhouses can be as simple as a temperary wire and plastic structure, or as permanate as a beautiful atrium addition to your home. Backyard greenhouses are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are more efficient than others. Walk out on a cold winter day, tend your garden and have your own little bit of springtime to enjoy! Greenhouses offer more gardening variety. You are not limited in your choice of planting desires. Tropical plants, flowers of every kind and all of the vegetables that your table can hold, will grow easily in your greenhouse.
The challenge offered by the National Cancer Institute is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A great way to meet this challenge, is to organically grow your own garden, full of fresh vegetables and fruits year round.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that is found in dark green, orange, red, and deep yellow fruits and vegetables. Sources include apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, kale, mustard greens, spinach, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Vitamin C is another great antioxidant. It is found in citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, and tangerines. Vitamin C is also found in broccoli, cantaloupe, green peppers, kiwi fruits, potatoes, and strawberries. Dark green leafy vegetables contain folate. Folate is essential for normal growth and maintenance of your body’s cells. Folate is found in spinach, dried beans, liver, yeast breads, wheat germ, some fortified cereals, and mustard greens. Oranges are also a good source of folate. Some dark green leafy vegetables are also good sources of calcium.
Tomatoes and tomato juice contain lycopene. This has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, including prostate cancer. Tomatoes can be grown outdoors or in indoor container gardens, as well.
Start the new year off with a healtier you! Don’t let those cold temperatures keep you from growing your own backyard garden. It is a great way to bring health back to your diet and it is fun way to share the “fruits of your labor” with your neighbors and friends.