Caraway Winter Care – Caraway Cold Hardiness In The Garden

Caraway Winter Care – Caraway Cold Hardiness In The Garden

By: Teo Spengler

Caraway is a spice that many cooks like to keep in the herb garden. Although you can buy annual plants, most garden caraway are biennials, seeding the second year. That means that the plant requires caraway winter care. Keeping caraway in winter isn’t a problem in mild regions, but in chillier areas, caraway winter protection is a must. Read on to learn about caraway winter planting, caraway cold hardiness, and how to make sure your plants make it to spring.

Keeping Caraway in Winter

If you use caraway seeds in cooking, you may know that caraway (Carum carvi) is a biennial herb. Caraway “seeds” are the dried fruit of this plant that have small seeds on the outside like strawberries do.

Caraway winter planting is possible since some seeds can germinate at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 C.). However, they germinate best at temperatures closer to 70 degrees F. (21 C.) and are more frequently planted in spring or fall.

The first year, caraway grows into small, bushy plants with shiny green leaves. Come autumn, the plants die back to the roots. With good caraway winter care, the herbs make it to spring.

The second growing season, the plants grow to twice the size they attained the first year. You can use the leaves in salads whenever they are large enough. At the end of the second season, the plants flower and fruit. The caraway seeds used in cooking are attached to the outside of the fruit.

Caraway cold hardiness is exceptional. The plants thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 7. That means that this biennial herb tolerates very low temperatures. The plants can even survive winters when the weather dips down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 C.).

Caraway Winter Care

Since caraway plants die back in autumn to the roots, keeping caraway in winter is not exceptionally difficult. You must protect the roots, but you don’t have to worry about tender stems and leaves. Healthy caraway roots have an easier time making it through winter. The health of the plant impacts the health of the roots, so be sure to provide the plant with everything it needs to thrive.

Plant the caraway in a full sun location in well-draining soil. Adding aged compost before planting gets the seedling the nutrients it requires to grow into a healthy plant.

Keep the soil moist while the plant is establishing itself and building its root system. Provide more compost at mid-season.

Caraway winter care involves protecting the roots from icy weather. One of the best ways to protect them from the cold is to layer mulch over the plant roots. This insulates the caraway like a thick blanket. You can remove this mulch in spring once new growth begins.

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King Henry I is said to have died from a surfeit of lampreys. I can’t eel out of the fact that I’m suffering from an overdose of Christmas. Delicious though the mince pies, clotted cream and chocolates were, I’m beginning to look like a galleon in full sail.

I’m not keen on Veganuary as a concept but still, I’m craving fresh vegetables and happily we are still cropping the kitchen garden, so all the veg here came from our own plot. The only imports were the citrus and butterbeans. Oh, ok and the wine, although I could have sourced that locally. Together they make a comforting, rainbow-coloured vegetarian spread (vegan if you replace the small amount of butter in the recipes with oil). It’s not a diet dish but it is, I think, healthy and cheering.

I served the vegetable dishes as one main course centred on the butterbean mash. Feel free to cherry-pick or substitute according to what you fancy and/or have available. If you’d like to get ahead, pre-cook the kale crisps, make the mash up to the stage where it’s decanted into a saucepan, blanch the fennel, fry the leeks and boil the carrots. Finish each dish just before you want to eat.

The Winter Garden

Please see intro for suggestions on pre-cooking some elements.

Ingredients for the butterbean mash:

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

I fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil (I like Hill Farm’s)

2 tins of butter (lima) beans, drained

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Big handful of chopped parsley

For the leeks in red wine (from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking):

6 baby leeks, trimmed almost down to the white part and thoroughly washed

2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil

For the orange-glazed carrots:

Small bunch of carrots, cleaned and trimmed, cut into batons if large

Pinch each of salt and sugar

1 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped

1 large fennel bulb or a handful of smaller ones, trimmed and cut into slim wedges, retaining some root and keeping a few fronds aside for garnish

1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed, or caraway seeds (optional)

For the crispy kale garnish:

A small bunch of kale leaves, tough ribs discarded

1 tsp extra virgin rapeseed oil

To make the mash: heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and add the onion, sprinkled with a little salt. Put on a lid and cook until nearly tender, then remove the lid and add the garlic. Continue to fry until both are soft and golden, stirring often to ensure they don’t burn.

Scrape into a food processor with all the flavoured butter/oil and add the drained butterbeans and lemon zest and juice (not the parsley, yet). Whizz to a smooth, creamy mash. You can use an immersion blender if you prefer, loosening with a small amount of hot water if it’s too thick to work. Season to taste, scrape into a saucepan and set aside.

For the carrots: cook in boiling water with a pinch each of salt and sugar until crisp-tender, and drain. Melt the butter in a frying pan, cook the carrots for a minute on a moderate to high heat (don’t burn the butter) then add the orange juice. Let it all bubble and reduce, turning the carrots to coat them evenly. Add the chopped coriander and set aside to keep warm.

For the leeks: heat the oil and fry the leeks gently, sprinkled with a little salt. When one side is golden, turn and do the other side. Add the red wine (watch out for it spitting) and the veg stock and put on a lid. Cook gently until you can pierce the root end easily with a knife. Mine only took a few minutes but they were very small.

Remove the leeks to a dish and reduce the sauce until it’s thickened slightly. Pour it over the leeks and keep warm.

For the fennel: bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil and blanch the fennel for about three minutes or until tender to a knife. Drain very thoroughly, drying in a clean tea towel. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and sauté the fennel, sprinkled with a little salt and the fennel or caraway seeds (if using), until tinged with gold. Check the seasoning and keep warm.

For the crispy kale: heat the oven to 150C/130 fan/ 300F/Gas Mark 2. Dry the kale thoroughly, place in a bowl and tear any big leaves into smaller pieces. Massage in the oil, sprinkle over the salt and place on a baking tray in a single layer. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crisp but retaining their colour.

To serve: finish the various veg dishes if you partly pre-cooked them and keep warm. Put the saucepan with the mash on a gentle heat and warm through, stirring so it doesn’t catch, until piping hot. Check the seasoning and add more butter or oil, to taste.

Stir in the chopped parsley and pile in the middle of a heated serving dish. Arrange the various vegetables around it (or serve separately). Garnish with the crispy kale and a few of the reserved fronds of fennel.


The Real Hate Crime

Let’s see now, it’s terrible if President Trump withheld foreign aid as a way to pressure President Zelensky into doing something, but it’s wonderful if Congress and the President openly threaten to withhold highway construction money as a way to pressure governors and State legislators into committing an unforgivable hate crime against Mr. and Mrs. Twenty.

Let’s see now, they raised the drinking age to cut down on traffic deaths, and then they raised the speed limits, showing how much they actually cared about traffic deaths. You see, the drinking age is an unforgivable attack on the fundamental, unalienable rights of persons younger than 21, while speed limits are and inconvenience to persons who matter.

Let’s see now, it’s terrible if a caterer can freely refuse to serve at a same-sex “wedding,” but it’s wonderful when the government deploys gun-toting goons in bulletproof vests to intimidate the same caterer from serving alcoholic drinks to Mr. and Mrs. Twenty. The drinking age is the real have crime because the victims did not choose to be younger than 21, and because businesses are forced to participate.

On 2 March 2006, a 47-year-old man in Burton, Ohio was driving drunk (0.26% BAL), driving left of center, speeding, driving under multiple suspensions and leading police on a chase, but at least he wasn’t drinking under age. He crashed head on into a car with three Hiram College students, but at least he wasn’t buying for them. While he was getting his eleven prior DWI’s, lawmakers were approving sting operations, keg registration laws, counterfeit-resistant ID’s and harsher punishments for the crime of drinking alcoholic beverages while younger than 21. Obviously these measures didn’t help the victims. Grace Chamberlain, 18, of Kirtland, Ohio died at the scene. Andrew Hopkins, 18, died days later at Metropolitan Hospital.

Gee, Sherlock, why do you suppose the hypocrites impose the drinking age on persons younger than 21, instead of imposing tougher DWI measures on themselves?


Winter Production in the HIGH TUNNEL

"We try to transition into winter here … we use low tunnels for some crops into the fall, and go into high tunnels as the weather turns. That way we make best use of our total space, reserving the most expensive real estate for when it is absolutely necessary….

"An important point is selecting correct varieties for winter growing. Another one is that watering is a big challenge. It is easy to overwater or underwater in the winter, so some of Johnny's tools like the moisture meter are important….

"Plants in high tunnels need air in winter, just as they do in summer… Fungus and/or aphid problems can develop if you do not provide good air circulation and venting of the high tunnel during the day. Also, heat management is more difficult by nature… We think, 'Well, it's cold outside I won't go check the tunnels until 8 or so.' Then you realize the sun has been out for a couple of hours and the temp inside has gone from 25 to 75 and rising — and that is not what greens and lettuces like!

"Also important is having lots of organic matter in the soil, which leaves more air pockets in the soil, versus a solid block of frozen soil….

"Remember: in winter, high tunnels are your most expensive real estate, and you should consider all the costs vs. the returns of winter crops."

Fundamentals of high tunnel design need to be observed to construct a tunnel that will survive snow load, capture optimal sunlight, and allow for regulating heat and humidity when necessary. To learn more, get connected with your local cooperative extension service, educational institutions, and regional grower organizations. There are many forums, learning events, and online resources available through these and other entities.

A proven strategy at higher latitudes is the use of one or more layers of row cover over the crops inside the tunnel, for additional protection in colder months. Row cover in a variety of weights and fabrics can be used in ways that differ from farm to farm and region to region. Lighterweight covers are sometimes left in place all the time. Other growers leave the crop covered at night and remove it on warmer days, when the tunnel's internal temperature has risen sufficiently. This results in increased solar gain, and ventilates excess moisture that can encourage diseases common to winter tunnels, such as downy mildews of spinach and lettuce.

With some crops the row cover can be laid directly on top of the crop. With others, some type of support is required, especially if multiple layers or heavier fabrics are chosen. From QuickHoops ™ and wire wickets to cables and metal suspension frames, various methods can be deployed to support row cover and make the daily process of removal for heat and humidity regulation more efficient.

From planting time all the way through winter and into the spring, your plants will need to acclimate to cooler temperatures to prevent shock and necrosis. This is similar to hardening plants off in the spring before transplanting them out at this time of year, you are instead heading into cooler temperatures, not warmer. Expose the plants to temperatures as close to freezing, 32°F / 0°C, as often as possible. This can be done with careful temperature monitoring to know when to remove row cover or roll up the sides of the tunnel, or both. If you roll up the tunnel sides, keep a close eye on the weather for conditions that might cause damage to the plants, such as driving wind, rain, sleet, or snow.

Keeping your high tunnel warm is not as essential as preventing dramatic temperature fluctuations. The key is to maintain as steady a temperature within the tunnel as possible, to reduce stress on the plants. Disease pressure can develop if you do not provide good air circulation and venting of the high tunnel during the day.

After being properly acclimated, the cold-hardy plants should be able to tolerate a solid freeze at night, provided they are allowed to thaw incrementally during the day. The plants must be completely thawed in order to harvest them, so supplemental heat may be required in the tunnel on harvest days.

Thorough watering is necessary to get crops started, but they will generally require very little additional water during the winter. Using a moisture meter can help you avoid overwatering or underwatering.

If you have to apply fertilizer, opt for mild, low-impact sources. Within the tunnel, salt build-up can pose a problem without the leaching action of natural precipitation. Some growers use overhead irrigation to "rinse" the salt from the soil. Others leave their tunnel uncovered periodically to allow rains to leach the salt.


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