Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Winter solstice and vegetable growing

I’m looking forward to the Winter Solstice and lengthening days ahead. It’s not just about my affinity for sunlight. It’s about vegetables growing again.

Here in Western North Carolina, we have a very short Persephone Days period (a term coined by Elliot Coleman to describe the less than 10 hour daylength period where cool-season vegetables stop growing and are in a holding phase.)

It’s less than 3 weeks, I think, here, much longer in coastal Maine, where Coleman and his spouse Barbara Damrosch live and have managed a thriving four-season market garden.

Years ago, when I read about this in Coleman’s books about Winter Harvest and Four-Season Harvest, I thought, well why aren’t we doing this more in the Carolinas? Thankfully, it IS happening more now, well past a decade or more when I read his books, and market farmers here are using row covers and hoop houses to produce lovely vegetables, as are home gardeners, too.

I haven’t set up my hoops and covers this year, as our traveling has disrupted my vegetable gardening rhythms a bit (not complaining about that, really). I’ve still got collards, chard, arugula and kale, if they survive the 11” of snow we had last weekend and the deep chill to <20° F tonight and tomorrow (not to mention all of the perennial herbs which hopefully will be fine).

And at the Southside Community Garden, where I volunteer, we have lots of beautiful kale, collards, chard, and onions under light row covers. This is an October view.

Southside Community Garden, October, 2017


  1. Lucky you! Our Persephone Days run from about the second week of November through January. I do have some lettuce in a coldframe, and it really takes off by mid-February. The plants never really die in the coldframe, but I tend to start over with new seeds each spring. Fun stuff!

  2. I've never heard of Persephone Days. I'll keep these in mind when I add veggies to my container garden. Thanks for sharing!


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