Instead of spending winter wishing for spring, get outside and start harvesting. That’s the advice in Niki Jabbour’s new book, “The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener” (Storey Publishing, 2011, $19.95). The book promises tips for growing food 365 days a year—no matter where you live.
In spring, she recommends cold frames and mini-hoop tunnels, her summer tips mean earlier harvests of warm-weather crops, fall is full of succession planting to continue the harvest, and then there’s winter.
Niki’s winter gardening tips are simple and straightforward. Gardeners can really garden by using row covers, cloches and hot caps, cold frames, mini hoop tunnels, and unheated greenhouses and polytunnels.
Before you say, ‘That would never work in my climate’, keep in mind that Niki gardens near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
She explains her experiment with winter gardening all started by tossing a row cover over a bed of argula in October and enjoying the greens through December.
Contrary to what gardeners may think, cold-season gardening involves less maintenance than summer vegetable gardening.
“You don’t have to water, fight bugs, or weed. I think of our winter cold frames as in-ground refrigerators that protect and hold our crops until we’re ready to eat them,” she writes.
“The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener” is a first-class resource for gardeners at any level. The color photos and friendly tone of the book invite beginning vegetable gardeners to stretch their green thumbs. At the same time, seasoned gardeners will learn a few new tricks, too.
The book helps gardeners understand how to maximize shifting sunlight, interplant to make the most of available space and build simple hoop houses, cold frames and unconventional cloches. Cloches are covers used to protect individual plants and can include bell-shaped glass jars, plastic juice bottles, soda bottles, glass jars, milk jugs and even plastic salad containers.
One of the keys to successful year-round gardening is selecting the right plants for the garden. The book includes information on more than 50 vegetables and herbs—including specific short-season, “Niki’s Picks” varieties.
Equally impressive to the book itself, is that Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, wrote the foreward. He writes, “Extending the growing season is one of the easiest ways to increase productivity in the garden. We can’t invent a new planet, but we can and must learn to use the resources of the current one more creatively.”
Even if that includes clearing snow from the garden path and harvesting a winter salad for supper.
(Storey Publishing provided me with a free review copy of “The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.”)