Year-Round Gardening Part 1- Why we grow a year-round garden.

Year-Round Gardening #1

Welcome to Part One of my Year-Round Gardening Series!

Over the next few weeks I will post some instructional articles on the “how to’s” of Year-Round Gardening.  Today I thought I would kind of set things up with a post about why we do Year-Round Gardening.


Our goal around Our Stoney Acres is to grow as much food as we can for ourselves.  This year is our 17th year with an official garden.  Each year our garden has gotten bigger as our skills (and lot size) improved.  We had messed around with a little bit of season extension for a few years.  Mostly that involved planting lettuce and peas in the early spring and again in the late fall and hoping for the best.

In 2008 I read that you could actually have a garden in the winter time, even in the cold northern climates like ours. This interested me so I did some more research and found a fantastic book.

The book is called Four-Seasons Harvest by Eliot Colemanwho is the world foremost guru on Year-Round Gardening.  I also learned that Year-round gardening involves a lot more than just growing things for the winter as well.  Year-round gardening is a whole new way of thinking about your garden.  Year-round gardening means you are constantly planning and planting so that 365 days of the year you have something to harvest from your backyard garden.

Sometimes you will hear the term winter gardening.  Winter gardening probably isn’t the best term for me to use, winter harvesting is better.  You really don’t need to do much actual gardening during the coldest part of the winter.  During the winter you really just harvest the plants that you bring to maturity in the late fall.

Year-Round Gardening Series Part 1

Hoop House Winter 2010

The key to year-round gardening is some planning and some simple protection to have fresh vegetables all year long.

Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about.  I read Four-Season Harvest in the late winter of 2009.  That spring we planted our normal garden and started harvesting the first radishes and lettuce about May 1st.  By building a few cold frames and hoop houses and applying what I learned in the book we have had something fresh we could eat from our garden every day since.  You read that right; we have had some kind of fresh produce available to us from our garden every day now for over 7 years (as of 2016)!!

Year-Round Gardening Series Part 1

Carrots and Pak Choi

So what kinds of vegetables are we talking about?  Our winter cold frames have mostly salad greens available.  We usually grow at least 2 or 3 types of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, Mache and our favorite carrots.  All these vegetables are cool weather plants and they taste a ton better this time of year.  In fact the carrots will be the best you have ever tasted because the cold causes some of the starches to turn to sugars and they are sweet and delicious.  Over all there are 30 different crops you can grow in the winter time, some are a quite exotic others are some hardier version of what you are used to growing.  Most winter crops lean towards the “leafy greens” family.

Year-Round Gardening Series Part 1

Winter Carrots

But there is even more to year-round gardening than just the winter harvests.  By applying the year-round gardening principals you can extend the harvest of your crops late into the fall and even the early winter.  And with some added protection and some early planting and planning you will be having the earliest harvests you have ever had from your spring garden as well.

I’ve written a 9 part series that will introduce you to all the basic principals of year round gardening.  All 9 of the posts are listed below.  Every couple of years I update these posts with new information and updated experience.  When I do those updates I bring the publish dates forward on the blog so that everyone can see the updated posts.

Also my love for Year-Round Gardening has given me many chances to teach classes.  I’ve consolidated all these classes into one big 5 hour premium gardening course called Year-Round Gardening.  This class is currently on sale!  You get life time access to all the content on this course for only $25!!

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Check back over the next few days as I break down the details of what to plant, when to plant it and what to do to keep it growing when it’s 15 degrees outside.  We love Year-Round Gardening!!

**2016 Update:

Since I first wrote this series in 2012 it has proven to be one of my most popular group of posts, I’ve given it a bit of an update in 2016 adding a little more information and updating with a few new things I have learned.  The whole series is listed below:



If you are looking for a real in-depth and fun way to learn more about Year-Round Gardening then I’d love to have you buy my Year-Round Gardening Video Course.  Just follow this link or click on the image below to learn more!! 

Year Round Garden Video Course

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  1. Launi September 7, 2011 8:04 pm Reply

    Your blog looks great Mr. Stoney, and your garden is truly amazing!

    • Rick September 7, 2011 8:17 pm Reply

      Thanks Launi, tell your friends!!

  2. kitsapFG July 21, 2012 9:03 am Reply

    Glad you are doing a blog series on winter growing and harvesting. I have been doing this for many years now and have learned lots of things along the way. Your point about getting them to maturity and then harvesting is often not really understood by folks when they try this for the first time. It is also not well understood that the fall growing season (going into that winter harvest) that you are dealing with a steadily decreasing sun strength and day length so the “average days to maturity” on a seed packet leads people to plant too late – as that average is based on a spring planting where sun strength and day length are increasing steadily. I always add at least two weeks to the spring planting maturity expectations for my fall plantings.

    • Rick July 21, 2012 9:47 am Reply

      Thanks for the comments, please continue to add your input as the series goes along. I’ve seen pictures of your winter garden so I know you will have a lot to add. I wish I had your mild, rainy winters, it would be a lot easier to winter garden with out 2 feet of snow!!! 🙂

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