Author Topic: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters  (Read 545 times)

Kai Duby

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In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« on: 2019-02-12, 07:36:21 PM »
This is my first year attempting to save seed of biennial root crops by storing them directly in the ground over the winter. I know that a lot of seed growers hand books say that this is not a good idea but I have also met a lot of gardeners that have been able to keep the roots and get seed just fine in the ground.

By harsh winters I mean either extreme, abrupt changes in temperature often to below freezing for short periods of time or extended, months long freezing temperatures. The moisture levels in soil going into winter seems like a determining factor as well.

I've met people who say that they have overwintered carrots in frozen soil.
I have personally overwintered rutabagas through a harsh winter under some snow though quite exposed on a southerly slope.

This year I am attempting carrots, daikon, and rutabaga directly in the ground. I planted them in furrows after selecting them from the market bunches and when frost was imminent I covered them with a good 8-12'' of straw.

I also put a lot of the roots in totes filled with sawdust, but given my limited space, I buried the boxes in heaps of old hay in an old excavated hole.

Just wondering if anyone else has successfully overwinter the common biennial root crops through harsh winters.
San Luis Valley, CO. >7,500'. Zone3-4. Low rainfall: 8-10''. Low Humidity. High winds.

Doro

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #1 on: 2019-02-13, 06:12:08 AM »
We get hard bare frosts with warm spells inbetween during early winter.
Hip high snow and hard frost during mid winter.
And icy conditions with hard frosts and random warm spells inbetween during late winter.
 :P this kills pretty much anything.

Parsnip is the only root crop that survives winters for me. Not all varieties, but I got a reliable grex going since ~10 years.
I'm also going to try salsify and black salsify this year. They should survive too, just have not tried yet. Hoping for the best ;)

Anything else has to be stored in a root cellar. Buckets of sandy soil work great to keep the roots from loosing moisture. Some varieties will start regrowing long before I can plant them out, but usually that's no problem and they still survive and make seeds.

William S.

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #2 on: 2019-02-13, 08:00:50 AM »
Parsnips and Turnips survive winters for me and have pretty long term. Also carrots and onions and potatoes so far.

Going to try leeks and tragopogon salsify this year for the first time.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #3 on: 2019-02-13, 08:16:39 AM »

Parsnips and young turnips are reliably winter hardy for me.

Beets haven't been winter hardy.

Small carrots sometimes survive the winter. Larger carrots haven't. Two generations of carrots have survived the winter in ground now, so it might be a suitable time to try overwintering larger carrots in ground again.

Onions are hit and miss for me, highly dependent on the variety.

Potatoes survive some years, but not reliably.

My most reliable way to store roots overwinter, is in buckets of sand/soil/choir in the pantry, which stays a bit above freezing.

Kai Duby

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #4 on: 2019-02-13, 06:22:21 PM »
So certain varieties of parsnip and turnip sound like a sure thing. Wild salsify is certainly hardy so I would suspect some domesticates would be as well.

Joseph: It's interesting that you mention your carrots because I grew some of your carrot mix a few years back and they survived the winter quite well though, for various reasons, I wasn't able to save seed from them. The biggest root was about a thumb and a half in width so not too small considering they weren't ever irrigated! I didn't have any irrigation available but your carrots just came up with the spring rains and survived on about 20-25'' of rain through the season, which I was pretty impressed with! This was also in very heavy clay.

I wonder why it is that small carrots can make it and large ones can't. Could it be because of the roots water content?

I replanted the most carrots this last fall so I'm eager to see if they survived. I don't have much hope for the daikon but I figured I'd try since I had so many.

I've heard that the reason carrots become sweeter after a frost is because they are making "antifreeze" sugars in response to the cold. Perhaps this would be a good trait to focus on for a more cold hardy carrot.
San Luis Valley, CO. >7,500'. Zone3-4. Low rainfall: 8-10''. Low Humidity. High winds.

Kai Duby

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #5 on: 2019-03-09, 02:17:31 PM »
The beets survived! As did the turnips.
I've planted out the turnips cause I figure they can take the cold.
Ground is warming up during the day above 50F but the night temps are still dropping to a bit above 15F.
Will beets survive in unfrozen ground with night time temps that low for multiple weeks to come or should I wait to plant them out?
San Luis Valley, CO. >7,500'. Zone3-4. Low rainfall: 8-10''. Low Humidity. High winds.

Ferdzy

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #6 on: 2019-03-09, 02:45:26 PM »
Kai, I don't know what your springs are like but March is when I go out and walk around the garden saying, "It survived! It's alive!"

May is when I walking around the garden saying, "No, it's dead. It died."

Or to put it another way, more things are killed by freeze-thaw cycles in the spring than by steady winter temperatures, especially if you get snow cover.

I think I'm saying, wait a bit.

reed

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #7 on: 2019-03-11, 08:19:44 AM »
I inspected my garden real good yesterday, looks like a good many turnips survived. I'm still hopeful that maybe a chard plant or two is still alive. And I think a few young carrots might be in there. I'm real excited that a couple of my lettuce and several mustard plants are alive. Man that fresh growth on the mustard is tasty. Onions and garlic are fine.

Carol Deppe

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #8 on: 2019-03-11, 11:00:51 AM »
This is my first year attempting to save seed of biennial root crops by storing them directly in the ground over the winter. I know that a lot of seed growers hand books say that this is not a good idea but I have also met a lot of gardeners that have been able to keep the roots and get seed just fine in the ground.
The reason seed grower's info advises against saving seed from overwintered biennial root crops is not because you can't overwinter them. It's because you can't select a root crop properly without looking at the root. And if you don't select every generation, an op variety usually turns into crap pretty quickly.

You may be able to get away with a generation of seed increase without selection, though, especially if the variety is pretty uniform. That might be used to greatly expand the seed supply where the crop will overwinter.

What overwinters where depends on the type and timing of freezes as well as pest and disease problems. So which varieties are best at overwintering is very region-specific. Wet cold isn't the same as dry cold. Here in maritime Oregon, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, beets all overwinter or not, depending on variety. But turnip roots get eaten up by worms and what is left molds. Potatoes that freeze turn to mush, but most years the hardest freeze doesn't reach below about three inches deep, and lots of potatoes are below that.

reed

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #9 on: 2019-04-12, 03:05:22 AM »
I have had poor luck with carrots overwintering, have never harvested a single carrot seed but right now I have a pretty good stand of carrots that made it through the winter. They were seed planted last fall instead of like I have tried before which is replanting selected larger roots. I am hopeful that although they are small they will bloom this year and if I'm lucky they will do so before the QAL.

I know I won't be able to select roots in what I guess is the traditional way but if/when they look to be starting a flower stalk I will pull some and see what the root looks and tastes like then replant it and see what happens. If this works it might solve my problem of getting carrot seeds. From then on I'll plant two crops each year, spring to harvest as always and fall to overwinter for seed.
« Last Edit: 2019-04-12, 03:07:04 AM by reed »

Kai Duby

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #10 on: 2019-04-29, 09:11:41 PM »
I thought the carrots were a bust but while I was raking away the mulch I had piled on top of them I noticed a few haphazard little green carrot frills! I'm quite surprised they survived. There was about a month and a half this winter that the temperature didn't get above 20F. Unfortunately only about 5 out of 50 made it. I feel like these are more lucky than anything and that the soil conditions had more to do with their survival than some inherent property of their own. I basically replanted them in a flood irrigated trench, which was still very wet when I dug them up this spring to take a look.

Daikon made a perfect huge radish shaped hole in the ground where it froze and then dissolved back into the earth.

I saved the biggest, nicest, bug free rutabagas out in the ground under mulch but they up and died. However, the red russian kale roots I selected out and replanted not only survived the cold, they survived marauding rabbits eating the tops below ground!
I wonder why it is that a big fat root is more susceptible to cold than the little roots.
San Luis Valley, CO. >7,500'. Zone3-4. Low rainfall: 8-10''. Low Humidity. High winds.

Doro

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #11 on: 2019-04-30, 05:24:59 AM »
I am guessing it's the cell structure that changes through the life of the root.

I found a living little cabbage under the mulch. Which should not happen in my climate. At harvest time it was just tennis ball size, so I left it in and just covered the bed in leafs for wintercomposting. Some days ago I noticed a bump in the mulch and had a look what that was... I might just leave it and see if it makes seed.

William S.

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #12 on: 2019-05-04, 04:58:46 PM »
I thought Allium cepa was an biennial. I got a small seed crop from my Lofthouse onions last year. This year a couple are coming back for a third year. Two Montana winters, same plants.
Western Montana garden, glacial lake Missoula sediment lacustrian clay mollisoil sometimes with added sand in places. Zone 6A

Joseph Lofthouse

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #13 on: 2019-05-04, 08:43:55 PM »
Hmm. The last few years, I have been growing Allium cepa, common bulbing onion, as a perennial. If I got my act together, I might select in the direction of winter hardy potato onions. Only about 15% of my storage onion landrace was winter hardy.

In my climate, Welsh onions and Egyptian onions are reliably winter hardy, so I don't really need one more variety of bunching onions. I really like being able to take a storage onion off the pantry shelf during the winter.






reed

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Re: In Ground -Biennial Roots- Harsh Winters
« Reply #14 on: 2019-05-05, 05:36:10 AM »
My potato onions seem to be nicely hardy, all those I have left at least. The ones that weren't went extinct in my garden couple winters ago. They also store very well but they are small. About 1/2 dollar size is the biggest I'v seen and most less than that. Size however might be because of less than ideal soil conditions and lazy garden practices.

Actually though I don't really know for sure they are potato onions. Except for my old walking onions everything out there now is from my seed and that seed is from potato onions and Joseph's landrace onions that bloomed together couple years ago.

I'v got blooming about to start right now and they ALL seem to be almost perfectly synchronized this year including my old walking onions the new wild ones I found.  A good varietal mix, all hardy and all blooming together, I'm pretty happy, it's just selection from now on.
« Last Edit: 2019-05-05, 05:38:42 AM by reed »