Year-Round Gardening is the simple process of extending your garden harvesting season to 365 days a year.
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.
Year-Round Gardening why we do it
Our goal around Our Stoney Acres is to grow as much food as we can for ourselves. This year is our 20th 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 wintertime, 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. 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.
Protection is the Key
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 11 years (as of 2020)!!
What can you grow?
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. Overall there are 30 different crops you can grow in the wintertime, some are quite exotic others are some hardier versions of what you are used to growing. Most winter crops lean towards the “leafy greens” family.
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.
Year-Round Gardening Series
I’ve written a 9 part series that will introduce you to all the basic principles 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 website 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 will be open for new students from July 5 to July 15, 2020! You get lifetime access to all the content on this course for only $69!!
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!!
Since I first wrote this series in 2012 it has proven to be one of my most popular groups of posts, I’ve given it a bit of an update in 2019 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!!