After a lot of reading (Eliot Coleman’s books among others) and a little experimentation over the last couple of years, I have decided to have a true “fall and winter” garden this year. I live in the transition area between USDA Zones 7b and 8a and we have generally mild winters, compared to other parts of the country. We do get snow or ice once or so every winter and do experience some cold weather.
Regarding sunlight hours, my area will drop below 10 hours of Daylight on November 30, 2018 and remain there through January 12, 2019. The shortest days are from December 17 through December 25 at 9 hours 47 minutes of daylight.
We experience the same daylight hours as the southern part of Crete and the Southern Mediterranean. So, we should get plenty of light throughout the winter.
I am only planning to use AG-30 row covers over my beds, with plastic on the coldest days. I have 7 raised beds that are all 4′ x 8′ and about 16″ deep. They are in a typical suburban back yard and get sun all day long. They are oriented east-west. We do not have any large trees that would block the more southern winter sun. The beds will also be surrounded by a layer of gravel (we have some drainage issues and are getting a landscaping company to come in and address them) so they will get some additional warmth from that.
My plans are to grow fava beans (an experiment for me), chard, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, lettuce, radishes, arugula, claytonia, mache, sorrel, and spinach. I also have micro-tomatoes growing inside under grow lights (I do not want to have a greenhouse or another structure that requires heating outside of the house).
Many of the greens I’ve selected are very cold-tolerant and so I do not think it will be too challenging for me to keep them going through the winter- and it won’t be as big of an accomplishment for me as it would be for someone to the north of me.