Tag Archives: Sustainable 2020

Grow Carrots in Winter

Grow Carrots in Winter

Grow Carrots in Winter

This week, our year-round growing guide will focus on one superstar superfood: the versatile carrot. To grow carrots in winter, more preparation is needed than for other vegetables, but they adapt easily to rows, containers, under a cloche, or in a hoop house.

Many varieties of carrot do well for cold-weather growing; with the proper planning, these can thrive when temperatures drop. Carrots offer so many nutrients that having a crop ready for harvest year-round will give you a wealth of health benefits. Read on to discover the perfect carrot choices for planting in winter.

Soil Preparation for Carrots

Soil Prep for Carrots

Best Soil for Winter Carrots

If the soil outside if not frozen, or if you are growing in a greenhouse, covered raised beds, or planters, you can start carrots as early as January. Carrots do not like to be transplanted, so they will need to be planted where you will harvest them, but they can do well in 12″ to 18″ depth containers. For growing outdoors without shelter, we recommend waiting to plant until around 5 weeks before your expected last frost.

Carrots are easy to grow year-round, but must have proper soil conditions to thrive. Average soil temperature should be around 40 degrees to start your carrot seeds. They like loose, sandy soil to allow plenty of room for root development. If the soil has stones or clumps, carrots can become stunted or misshapen.

Avoid fertilizing with nitrogen-rich materials, which can cause forking and off-shooting of roots. Old coffee grounds work well for carrots. Sand and peat moss are also good soil additives to encourage the light, airy soil carrots prefer.

Make sure you have proper drainage. Carrots dislike too much moisture, and will generate thin, hairy roots, destroying their texture, if not well-drained. Raised beds and containers  generally drain well but allow for plenty of watering during root development. This makes the deep, loose soil of a raised bed or planter a great choice for growing carrots in winter.

Carrots can tolerate frost and like cool temperatures. Carrot seeds are slow to germinate in the cooler weather, but they need cool temperatures for developing sweet, well-formed roots. A 40-degree average temperature is perfect for carrots! Depending on which variety you are growing and your local growing conditions, carrots may take anywhere from 2 to 4 months to mature.

Best Practices to Grow Carrots in Winter

Carrots for Winter Growing

Best Carrot Varieties for Winter Growing

First, choose your seed variety. Good choices for winter carrots grown in containers or grow bags are Little Finger heirloom, a small carrot only 4 inches long and 1-inch thick, and Thumberline heirloom, a round carrot, good for thicker soil.

If you’re planting in a hoop house or in the ground in a greenhouse, Chantenay carrots develop stocky roots that become sweeter in cool soil. Rondo and Early French Frame are also good choices to sow around the interior edges of your greenhouse.

Sow carrot seeds ¼” deep, and 3” to 4” apart in an area that gets full sun to partial shade, at least six hours of sun per day. Carrots don’t take up much space, averaging six carrots per square ft, and can be sown every three weeks for multiple harvests throughout the winter.

Mulch or cover with vermiculite during the germination period. Carrots take a long time to germinate, and prefer moist soil for the first ten days. To reduce evaporation and warm the soil, try covering your carrot bed with old blankets for the first five to six days.

Water carrots to at least one inch per week to start, and then two inches as roots mature. Make sure that soil remains airy and easy to drain with the added moisture.

Carrots take a long time to grow to maturity, up to four months. The best reason to grow carrots in winter is that carrots taste better after few frosts, due to the accumulation of sugars in the roots. Generally, the smaller the carrot, the better the taste; most carrots are at their best flavor and texture when they reach finger size.

Health Benefits of Carrots

Carrots have an impressive array of health benefits. They’re very nutritious; one carrot, whether raw or cooked, will provide more than double one day’s worth of Vitamin A. This cell-protective antioxidant supports lung and skin health, and has been shown to protect against cognitive decline. Along with the additional antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, Vitamin A is important to vision and eye health. Compounds found in carrots protect the retina and lens, and deficiencies can lead to visual impairment.

Anti-cancer studies with carrots show promise

Anti-cancer studies with carrots show promise

Carrots contain high levels of several carotenoids, plant compounds that may protect eye and cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of certain cancers. The American Institute for Cancer Research found in 2016 that foods containing carotenoids lower the risk of mouth, pharynx and larynx cancers. Additional 2017 studies found that dietary intake of carrots lowers the risk for breast cancer for women of all backgrounds.

This is possibly a result of other bioactive phytonutrients called polyacetylenes. In carrots, the polyacetylenes falcarinol and falcarindiol have shown anti-tumor activity.

Ways to Add Carrots to Your Diet

If you grow carrots in winter, you can add a pop of flavor and nutrition to every meal, snack, and even dessert! Grate carrots into your favorite bran muffin recipe, or puree them with a bit of ginger for a delicious morning oatmeal. Roast them along with eggplant, zucchini, and red onion for a lunchtime pita sandwich with hummus. For dinner, think beyond salads and sides—carrot soup is a warm treat for a cold night, and pairs well with the spices of a carrot cake dessert! Our favorite carrot soup recipe is easy to make into a family favorite!

Mediterranean Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

30 Minute Mediterranean Carrot Soup


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 C finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 Lb large peeled carrots, with 1/2-inch dice (about 2-2/3 C)
  • 2-1/2 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 C plain yogurt, whisked


  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion; sauté 1 minute.
  • Mix in carrots and lightly sauté 2 minutes.
  • Add broth; bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes; cool.
  • Finely grind cumin in spice mill.
  • Remove soup from heat, then puree in blender or with immersion blender until smooth.
  • Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle yogurt over; sprinkle generously with cumin.

To Further Your Growing Efforts

If sustainable, healthy eating is part of your plan for 2020, a greenhouse can expand your growing options, extend your growing season, and provide you a space to put your hobby into practice. Our experts can guide you towards the perfect growing solution that fits your budget and your space. We hope you’ll look to Gothic Arch Greenhouses for the very best greenhouses for sale anywhere.

Growing Year-Round Resource Guide

Growing Year-Round Resource Guide

Resources for Growing Year-Round

Growing year-round can be as much of a challenge as it is a joy.  We are here to help you make the most of your resources and our week-by-week guides. This blog installment will outline many resources you can use to tweak your planting. With some planning, you can easily achieve great harvests!

Gothic Arch has customers from Key West to Canada and beyond. We know that people with a passion for plants grow indoors, outdoors, on farms, on rooftops, in greenhouses, in raised beds, on balconies, community plots, window sills, school gardens, and anywhere else they can. To grow your best in any climate and conditions, a little knowledge can go a long way.

A key to growing year-round is understanding the plant you are growing, and what it needs to flourish. Important things to consider when growing outside of the usual season are: Can it survive frost? Does it like rich soil or an airier type? How long will it take to germinate? What soil temperature is best as it matures? If you are not growing in a heated greenhouse or indoors, these resources can help you to adjust our planting guide to your zone, local climate, and regional weather patterns.

Best Local and Regional Planting Information

USDA Planting hardiness map:

For outdoor growing, the USDA’s zone map is based off of the average annual minimum winter temperature. This is the standard by which most growers base their yearly planting. Low tunnels, high tunnels, and row covers can all help extend your zone’s season.

When to expect your last spring freeze:

Growing Maps

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/when-expect-your-last-spring-freeze     and    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/datatools/normals
The National Centers for Environmental Information have two helpful maps that show historical data and averages for the last spring freeze for your area.

The last spring freeze date gives growers an idea of when they can plan to sow seeds outdoors. It also helps you to choose when it’s best to move seedlings started indoors to beds outside. Transitioning plants outdoors can give you more indoor seed-starting space when growing year-round.

Soil temperature maps:


http://news.ncgapremium.com/index.cfm?show=1&mapID=20 Average soil temperature is extremely important to consider when starting plants or when transplanting.

The NRCS has this wonderful interactive map,which gives air temperature, soil temperature, and soil moisture:  https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/scan/

Historic temperature and precipitation maps:

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/us-maps/ Rainfall can affect the viability of new plants. When growing year-round, check the local rainfall patterns. You might wait a week or two to sow, in some cases, if heavy rains are a yearly pattern. Check your area’s historic temperature and precipitation at this National Climate Data Center site.

Soil Health Information:

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/soils/health/?cid=stelprdb1143204 The USDA has some helpful soil health infographics, which can help you determine any steps you may need to take to ensure a fertile garden.

Additional Growing Tools

One thing all of us at Gothic Arch Greenhouses enjoy is sharing knowledge. We have compiled a few additional gardening and growing resources below that we thought you may enjoy.

If you’re sharing our growing year-round guide with your students, check out the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services educational growing resources site. You’ll find their evidenced-based curricula for educators to use to integrate garden-based nutrition education lessons into core educational subjects, such as Math, English Language Arts, and Science.

Thinking of starting a community garden? The NRCS has some great advice here:

And if you’re a city-dweller, the USDA can advise on getting a great start with urban agriculture: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/landuse/urbanagriculture/

Their resource for information on non-traditional growing methods, such as hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics, and vertical growing can be found at this link: https://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/hydroponics

Have you looked for specific advise about growing conditions, pests, or invasive species in your area but haven’t found answers? Your local farm services office may be able to help!

The National Garden Center has many apps, maps, calculators, and advise pages here: https://garden.org/apps/

And finally, our favorite: the National Agricultural Library’s digital exhibit includes many guides and pamphlets created by the USDA over the years. The information on how to start your own backyard Victory Garden (as they were called in the WWII era) is as valid now as it was in the 1940s!

You will also find this groovy, illustrated Growing Your Own Vegetables, circa 1977 https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/CAT87209981/PDF

Growing Year-Round in 2020

We hope that with these resources, our guide to growing year-round can help you to achieve a healthy and happy year of harvests. Gothic Arch Greenhouses is dedicated to helping our customers grow their dreams; if our team of experts can help you with a greenhouse, equipment, growing supplies, or any horticulture need, we’d love to hear from you. Reach us by phone or email today!

Planting calendar for year-round growing

Year-round Growing Guide, January Week 2

Though many people don’t think of January as a prime time for growing, here at Gothic Arch Greenhouses, we know that planning for a full year of fresh food means making the most of your time. For our third installment in our year-round growing guide, we’ll focus on more herbs, veggies, and fruits you can start growing in January.

For most of us, the harshest weather of the year is just ahead. If you’re growing in a greenhouse, or on an enclosed balcony or window sill, consider adding some insulation. A cheap but effective way to increase your frost protection is to use bubble wrap or plastic sheeting to cover your glass. This will allow sun-loving winter veggies to still get plenty of diffuse light while being protected from cold.

To keep plants at their healthiest during winter when growth is slow, monitor them for signs of disease, and remove to prevent spreading. In winter, water your plants sparingly to avoid possible problems with molds, mildew, and bacterial growth.

Growing Salad Greens Year-Round

Winter salad greens

Grow nutritious greens year-round

Fresh salads are a healthy side to your typical hearty soups during the winter months. Many varieties of lettuce are too sensitive to grow in January, but others are perfect for year-round growing. Look to heartier plants such as ‘Imperial’ lettuce, endive, chicory, and radicchio, which are rugged enough to tolerate an unheated greenhouse in colder weather. Kale, arugula, Swiss chard, and cabbage can also grow quite vigorously in winter as well.

For leafy greens to germinate, they prefer soil temperatures of 50 to 75 degrees, and well-drained soil. Plant at a 1/2” seed depth with 2-3” spacing. Avoid over-watering, and ensure adequate plant spacing to reduce pest and disease issues. Greens can be sensitive. Seedlings typically emerge in 5-20 days. Harvest leaves from the outside, and be careful of damage to the growing point. Harvest greens frequently, when young, and rinse in cold water to preserve flavor and texture.

Some other winter salad options include radishes like ‘French Breakfast’ and ‘Saxa’, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Health Benefits of Winter Greens

Greens are always a solid choice to pack in nutrition when eating from your garden year- round. Fast and easy to grow, all types of greens are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They are a vital part of a healthy diet, and add nutritious, low-calorie flavor to whether raw, steamed, roasted, or added to soups and stews.

Swiss chard is in the same vegetable family as the beet; however, rather than the root, it is Swiss chard’s flavorful leaves that are eaten. It is second only to spinach as world’s healthiest vegetable. It is full of anthocyanins which can lower blood pressure, improve vision, inhibit tumor growth, and lower risk of developing diabetes. Swiss chard is also fiber-dense and has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity.

Medicinal Plants

Fresh-grown Health Benefits

You’ve probably heard kale called a superfood Rich in carotenoids and flavonoids, these powerful antioxidants protect cells from free radicals and have shown promise in fighting the formation of cancerous cells. One cup of kale has just 36 calories, zero grams of fat, 684% of RDA of K, 206% of A, and 134% of C vitamins.

Growing Thyme Year-Round

There are more than 50 varieties of thyme, however the most commonly grown edible herb types are English, French, lemon, and caraway. Culinary thyme is a hardy perennial evergreen and will thrive in your sunniest indoor window this winter. Outdoors, it will enter a dormant state in winter, with new leaves emerging in spring, similar to rosemary, making it a great herb for year-round growing.

Grow Herbs year-round

Herbs add flavor and beneficial phytochemicals to your diet

Thyme loves full sun, and will benefit from additional compact fluorescent light. We recommend light, fast-draining soil. Seeds can be slow and difficult to start, so you’ll probably prefer to buy a plant from a garden center or to propagate by cuttings. Avoid over-watering; thyme hates “wet feet,” so wait until soil is completely dry.

For the best, most potent flavor, harvest thyme just before the plant flowers. Regular trimming encourages vigorous growth, and a more bushy, rounded shape. Cut early in the day, and leave at least five inches of growth beyond the tough, woody portions. In the spring prune back by one third, cutting above points where you can see new growth, never below into the leafless woody stem.

Health Benefits of Thyme

Thyme is loaded with vitamin C and is also a good source of vitamin A. It’s a good source of copper, fiber, iron, and manganese. It has long been used in natural remedies, and is helpful with common cold symptoms, coughs, and bronchial infections.

Thyme is a strong antiseptic. Topically, it can treat cuts, scrapes, acne or sore muscles. It contains thymol, carvacrol, borneol, and geraniol, which are a naturally occurring class of compounds known as biocides. These substances can destroy harmful, infectious bacteria. In fact, one study from 2010 suggests that thymol can reduce bacterial resistance to common drugs, including penicillin. Another test-tube study found that thymol and carvacrol inactivated 90% of the herpes simplex virus within just one hour.

Healthy Thyme

Thyme is a powerful antibacterial you can grow year-round

Thyme’s many volatile oils have strong antimicrobial properties. A 2011 Polish study reported that thyme oil, even at low concentrations, was effective against resistant strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, Pseudomonas bacteria, and deadly Shigella sonnei. These bacteria and fungi cause foodborne illness in humans.

Other benefits of thyme include its ability to significantly increase healthy fats throughout cells, and to increase DHA content in kidney, heart, and brain cell membranes. This omega-3 fatty acid is essential to cellular health. Thyme’s rosmarinic and ursolic acids are powerful terpenoids, which have shown promise as a cancer preventive. Recent Turkish research has found that thyme caused cell death in breast cancer cells. Ursolic acid is being researched due to its potential to reduce the expression of markers of cardiac damage in the heart.

Further Year-Round Growing Options

Your path to a fresh, nourishing new year can be as large or as small of an undertaking as you choose. Whether your growing space, budget, and time allow for a full garden plot to feed your entire family, for a window sill of herbs, or anywhere in between, we hope to show you that there are benefits you can reap at any level.

If you’re making a long-term commitment to more sustainable living, also consider planting citrus for next year. Grown indoors, you can pick your own fresh citrus year-round. January is also a good time to plant peaches. You might consider starting a permanent asparagus bed this year. Asparagus can take a few years to establish, but soon you’ll have a winter vegetable crop every year thereafter.

Whatever your growing plans, Gothic Arch Greenhouses offers the best greenhouses and growing supplies for sale anywhere. We’d love to be part of your journey to a healthy and happy new decade. Happy Growing!

Year-Round Growing Guide, January

Year-Round Growing Guide, January

Welcome to week 1 of our January year-round growing guide! For those with established gardens, now is a time of rest and dormancy for most of your vegetable beds. Your might still be slowly harvesting last seasons mature plants, digging carrots and beets, or cutting back kale and spinach while you browse seed catalogues and dream of spring.

If you’re beginning your 2020 garden with our handy growing guide, our recommendations to start this week are bok choy and basil. Growing information and health benefits for these delicious greens are below.

Growing Bok Choy

Growing Guide 2020

Bok Choy is an excellent cabbage to start in January

A hearty cabbage you can start now is the wonderfully flavored Chinese vegetable Bok Choy. Bok Choy is a shade-loving, cold-hearty cabbage cousin that can reach maturity in as little as 45 days.

For bok choy to germinate, it prefers soil temperatures of 45 to 70 degrees, and well-drained but moisture retentive soil rich in organic matter. Plant at a ¼” seed depth with 1” spacing. Seedlings emerge in 2-15 days.

If growing in a heated greenhouse, protect from temps above 70 degrees and long supplemental light exposure. Bok choy will bolt and go to seed in warm temps and long day conditions.

Lightly steamed, stir fried, roasted, or added to egg-rolls, the flavor is milder than many other cabbages, and is full of health benefits.

Health Benefits of Bok Choy

Bok choy contains folate, which aids in production and repair of DNA. Cancer cells form due to mutations in DNA, which indicates a possible link in lowering instances of cancer. Further research is needed, but studies have shown that some people who eat more cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung, prostate, and colon cancer.

Bok choy contains vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help protect cells against damage by free radicals. Bok choy also provides dietary fiber, needed for a healthy digestive system.

Unlike most other fruits and vegetables, bok choy contains the mineral selenium. Selenium prevents inflammation and decreases tumor growth rates. It also boosts immune response by stimulating production of T-cells, which identify and kill invading bacteria and viruses.

Healthy 2020 winter greens

Growing beneficial foods promotes health and well-being

Iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin K in bok choy all contribute bone density, and iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production of collagen.

Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all present in bok choy, and can help decrease blood pressure.

Vitamin B-6 and folate in bok choy prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine, with affects heart health.

Growing Basil

Basil is a fast-growing herb that will produce year-round. Start indoors in a sunny window sill, keeping the soil temperature at above 50 degrees until emergence. Seeds should sprout in 5 to 14 days, planted at a ¼” depth with 12-18” spacing.

Basil will have a set of true leaves in 2-3 weeks from emergence, then will rapidly reach 6 inches tall and be ready to transplant to the garden when outdoor temps are above 60 degrees nighttime low.

Basil is a flavorful herb that comes in many different varieties that add wonderful complexity, freshness, and aroma to meals in many different cultures. Italian and Thai dishes often include basil, and the many types of basil make it appealing for everything from appetizers to after-dinner drinks.

Health Benefits of Basil

Basil is rich in vitamin K, A, potassium, and calcium. It can help to reduce inflammation, which can help with arthritis. Basil also contains antioxidants and has antibacterial properties, improving cardiovascular health, and helping to prevent infection.

Sustainable 2020 eating

Quick-growing basil is a perfect herb to start inside

Preliminary studies suggest sweet basil may also be beneficial in reducing duce memory loss associated with stress and aging, reducing depression related to chronic stress, and reducing stroke damage whether given before or right after a stroke.

Basil is also reported to improve fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and protect against ulcers.

Basil oil is reported to increase mental alertness when inhaled as aromatherapy, and repel insects, such as mosquitos and ticks.

Year-round growing in a greenhouse

If you’re starting your winter garden in a heated greenhouse, you have many options for January planting. Squash, leeks, eggplant, and asparagus are hearty and will not require heating to tropical levels. Keeping the soil above frost point will start these veggies well, even as the temperature drops outdoors.

Gothic Arch Greenhouses provides the best winter shelters to help you grow all year round. If you’d like to explore your options, please give us a call today. 800-531-4769.

Year-Round Growing Guide

2020 year-round growing guide

2020 year-round growing guide

As 2019 winds to a close, here at Gothic Arch Greenhouses, we are making a new commitment to embrace a healthier, more environmentally-conscious lifestyle. With our new 2020 year-round growing guide, we aim to make the most of our greenhouses and boost our health and wellness through sustainable, clean eating with home-grown, farm-fresh food. We want to share this journey with you, through our upcoming blog series! We’ll share our growing calendar, cultivation tips, recipe ideas, health benefits, vitamin and mineral information, and more! We hope you’ll be a part of our journey!

Planning ahead: Preparing for year-round growing

Vegetables from a winter garden

Cool weather vegetable harvest

One of the first considerations is how much greenhouse and garden space you will have. If you are a city or apartment dweller, don’t assume this question will keep you from being able to grow fresh food! Many cities now have community garden areas for people to share public space for growing. Other options include rooftop greenhouses, growing on your balcony, or even on your windowsill.

If you are a homeowner, when choosing how much space to dedicate to food you should consider how many vegetables does your family eat? Do you also want to grow and dry herbs? Will you be planting rows, using a greenhouse, or both? In each blog installment, we’ll give recommended spacing per plant and time to harvest to help you plan your estimated yield from the space you have available.

If you already have a greenhouse, is it heated? Your planting choices are more extensive if you can keep your overall temperature above 65 degrees day and night. If you have an unheated hoop house, our planting guide will give you options as well.

Will you be adding supplemental lighting? Most leafy greens and root vegetables do well in a winter greenhouse with a little added light. Our 2020 year-round growing guide includes plants that do well in winter shade as well as those that prefer some sun in the winter.

What to plant in Winter for year-round growing

Vegetable garden dinner

Sustainable food from your edible garden, year-round

As early as January, frost-tolerant plants such as spinach, bok choy, many lettuces, kale, swiss chard, and broccoli can be started in an unheated greenhouse. They are tolerant to lower temperatures and can be transplanted outdoors 3-4 weeks before your expected last frost.

If you have a heated, sunny garden space, now’s the time to start other cabbages, carrots, turnips, beets, winter squash, garlic, and asparagus.

More Winter year-round growing by zone

In Zones 6-10, indoor vegetables and herbs to start now are notoriously slow-to-grow celery, parsley, leeks, and onions. Celery and parsley will need several weeks to germinate, and onions can take several months to be viable to transplant outside.

In Zones 1-5, overall colder temperatures may limit your growing choices, but nutritious microgreens such as arugula, beet greens, mizuna, and pea shoots are a good choice for January.

Healthy eating 2020

Sprouts can thrive indoors whatever the weather

Growing sprouts is another option.

They germinate quickly and are packed with nutrients. For example, one cup of bean sprouts contains more than the daily RDA of Vitamin C, and broccoli sprouts have high levels of phytochemicals, causing nutritionists to consider them a “cancer-fighting superfood.”

Unusual varieties like radish, peas and even sunflowers are also healthy and fun to try.

Greenhouses for year-round growing

No matter if you’re a new gardener or an life-long pro, a greenhouse can expand your growing options, extend your growing season, and provide you a space to enjoy a fruitful hobby with benefits that go on and on. If a greenhouse fits your future plans, give our experts a call. We can guide you towards the perfect growing solution that fits your budget and your space.

We look forward to a healthy, nutritious, earth-friendly 2020, and from all of us at Gothic Arch Greenhouses, have a wonderful new year!