Monday, March 3, 2014

The 12 Month Garden

On Saturday, I talked about what vegetables are terrific for cool/cold weather gardens.

On Sunday, I talked about how to figure out what times of year you're getting enough daylight to grow vegetables - you want 10 hours of daylight a day.

Then I told you that we garden 12 months of the year.    How is that possible, given that we get less than 10 hours of daylight a day from November 16 through January 25?

An excellent question.   See that pic up there?   That's a cold frame [built with straw bales] on Christmas Day under the snow.   See all those greens in there?

The truth is that things do continue to grow during the dark parts of the year, they just grow very slowly.   And another important truth is that vegetables in the ground keep far far longer than they do in your refrigerator.   Which means that if you plant carrots and they're ready in late November,  they'll keep quite nicely in place, in the ground, unharvested, all through the winter and you can use them as you need them.

Winter gardens double as root cellars.  [Actually a good root cellar mimics the conditions of a winter garden.]

I know this for a fact.   We do it here.   I can plant carrots in late September or early October and can harvest the best carrots I've ever eaten in late February.  [Carrots are much sweeter when grown in cold weather.]

So, start thinking now about your winter garden.   Buy seeds now for those cold weather veggies that you can plant late in the year in a cold frame or hoop house or green house in the fall and then eat on all winter long.  [See the post from a couple of days ago for a list of good cold/cool garden veggies.]

For information on hoop houses and cold frames see the links to my posts in the sidebar under Garden Helps ---->

Here is more information on winter gardening from Eliot Coleman.  Check out his Winter Garden Handbook in my book list over there in the sidebar ---->.

And here's even more information on winter gardens from the Walden Effect blog.

And here's a guide from Johnny's Seeds.   It's written for folks wanting to do large quantities for farmer's markets, but there's good stuff for every gardener in there, too.   Scroll down until you hit the section on 10 ways to extend your season.

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