For years we’ve been planting our vegetable garden in spring and summer, enjoying the bounty until it runs out or the plants die with the first frosts of fall.
We’ve used mulch and row cover to extend the harvest a bit, but we’ve never had anything fresh from the garden past October.
The only garden produce we’d eat for the rest of the year was whatever had been frozen, canned, dehydrated, or stored away in a root cellar.
This year that’s going to change. Even in our four-season climate, it’s possible to harvest fresh veggies not only in the summer and fall, but all year round. We’re going to get in on the fun.
Late planting of peas for fall crop.
All it takes is careful planning and some kind of protection against the elements of winter.
Over at our family blog, Rural Living Today, we’ve been discussing fall and winter gardening. First we reviewed a great book that had inspired us. Niki Jabbour, author of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, raises fresh greens and other veggies during Nova Scotia’s true winters. She got us thinking maybe we could, too.
As we gathered more information and planned our strategy, we put together a brief introduction to cold-season gardening. We’ll continue to blog with more details, ideas, and suggestions from a number of sources.
Fall gardening includes both extending the harvest of summer crops and planting specifically for fall production.
Mulches, row covers, and low tunnels are fairly simple ways to make this work. For winter production, those methods can be supplemented by the use of cold frames and greenhouses. A combination of more than one material or structure will multiply the protection factor.
A few factors will improve success with fall and winter gardening.
Selecting the right plants and varieties
Starting with mature plants
Protecting plants from the elements
Several types of materials and structures provide protection from frigid air and frost. These include:
Three simple cloches from the kitchen--the milk jug allows ventilation, but the storage container and jar should be removed each morning to give the plant air.
In fact, we’re so enthused about cold-season gardening that we’re planning a special September event at a local farmers market. “Growing Fresh Veggies in Fall and Winter” will be a part of International Homesteading Education Month, presented by GRIT and Mother Earth News.
Check out the International Homesteading Education Month schedule and see what’s happening near you!
If you grow vegetables or herbs through fall and winter, I’d love to hear about your favorite plants and methods.