Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Winter Gardening

Eliot Coleman
The other morning, I awoke at 5 AM startled by how dark it was. To think that this time 4 weeks ago, I was already dressed and laced up to do some early yard work. Despite the weather being insufferably hot and humid these past few weeks, you can still feel the days of summer drawing steadily to a close. To many around our parts, this may sound a bit depressing. I have to admit that I'm not one of them. You see, I've never been a huge fan of summer (shocking for a gardener to admit, I know). I guess I'm just a creature of cooler weather or maybe too many childhood summers sent baking in "the urban jungle" have left a lasting impression on me. Who knows? What I do know is that growing food doesn't have to end with the summer season.

I am a huge fan of farmer and guru Eliot Coleman, best known for his writings on winter harvesting. His Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine specializes in growing food all year long using only low-tech, non-heating (and in some cases, minimal-heating) elements. Coleman's technique relies upon, among other things, choosing the right varieties of winter crops, succession planting on specific fall dates, and a couple of added layers of protection during the harsh winter months. Such will be my inspiration for the coming season. I figure that if Coleman can accomplish all of what he does on a commercial scale in zone 5, I can at least have some success with my winter garden in zone 6. There's still so much to do before our first frost, and such precious little time...like the nature of most things.


  1. I am planning on trying this on a very small scale this winter. I'm thinking of making an unheated hoophouse (sort of) out of a Rubbermaid container covered in plastic. I think I'm going to try lettuce and carrots. I'll post it all on my blog. Keep us updated on how the winter gardening turns out for you!

  2. Hi Thomas - wow, your plot has changed a lot since I last had a look at it! You've done an impressive amount of work there.

    Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog - I've left you a longer answer on there about my Japanese Garden, but here are a couple of good books to use as starting points :
    - Serene Gardens by Yoko Kawaguchi (ISBN 978-84537-916-2) and
    - A Japanese Touch for your Garden by Kiyoshi Seike et al. (ISBN 4-7700-1661-1)

    Happy reading :)

  3. Good stuff Thomas. Have decided on what you will be focusing on for winter crops? Will these be the same as your recent plantings?

    I am thinking Chard and carrots in the cold frame. I would love to get a small greenhouse next year if the budget ever allows!