Over the next month or so 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 Stoney Acres is to grow as much food as we can for ourselves. This year is our 15th 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 Coleman who is the world foremost guru on Year-Round 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.
All you need 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 almost 7 years (as of 2015)!!
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.
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.
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 2015 adding a little more information and updating with a few new things I have learned. The whole series is listed below:
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 1 – Introduction
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 2 – Bed Preparation
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 3 – Crop Selection
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 4 – Additional Crop Selections
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 5 – Planting Times
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 6 – Cold Frame Construction
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 7 – Hoop Houses
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 8 – Cold Frame Management
- Year Round Gardening Series Part 9 – Harvesting & Wrap up
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!!