Local woman begins winter garden

Lindsey Brielle, 25, of Williamsport, is looking forward to beginning her winter garden. As a seasonal farmworker, Brielle finds it important to grow her own food while continuing to nurture the environment. She has spent years learning how to create high-yield farms in a sustainable fashion.

Although few would think that vegetables can grow in the icy northern Pennsylvania winter, Brielle explained that there is a long-standing history of high-yield winter gardening.

“Throughout history, cultures have had to adapt to their climate to continue to eat year-round,” Brielle said.

She mentioned that it is common for a European or Russia household to have a winter garden.

Much of a gardener’s success will be determined by what type of plants they choose to grow. Brielle mentioned several that will grow well in a local garden throughout the snowy season. Brielle herself is planning on planting kale, spinach, carrots and beets, but gardeners can branch out into a wide variety of other plants, including arugula, lettuce, onions and scallions.

“I got a bit of a late start this year, because I recently moved. So those are what I currently have seeds for. I may decide to add more variety,” she said.

She explained that she is planning on building a low tunnel, which is similar to a non-heated greenhouse. The structure, created out of opaque plastic and suspended above the garden, will keep the plants perhaps 2 to 5 degrees warmer than the outside climate. People use many frames to suspend the plastic, including PVC piping. For Brielle’s own garden, she will stretch the plastic over an existing fence.

The structure blocks the winter winds, which can be far more damaging for cold-hearty plants than the temperature, Brielle explained.

She mentioned that cold frames – basically a box built around the garden with a sheet of glass or clear plastic on top – could be another option.

The clear lids may be hinged to allow gardeners easy access to their crops.

“The box is cut at an angle sloped toward the south, so you get the most of the winter sunlight,” Brielle said.