Vegetable Garden Design for Four Seasons

Year round vegetable garden design and the best crops for each season, including winter gardening.
By Norm Lee
January/February 1984
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 Broccoli can be intercropped with spinach in the spring vegetable garden design.  
ILLUSTRATION: SHERRIE LEE
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This is how my wife Sherrie and I harvest fresh vegetables year round. We plant eight organic raised beds—ours are 3' X 24' each—in early spring . . . and use succession planting for the fall garden. We seed eight other beds for the summer garden in May, and replant them later in the season to become the winter garden. This vegetable garden design is suited for USDA Hardiness Zones 5 and 6, but can be adapted for Zones 4 and 7.

Green onions, radishes, garlic, marigolds, dill, basil, and such are inter-planted throughout to deter insect pests. When it's time to plant a bed, we may pull out an old crop and add it to the compost pile before its bearing season is quite over.

Some beds can also be inter-planted before the preceding crop is entirely used up. There are many more possibilities than we've shown here.

Most important for winter harvests—after the selection of the hardiest vegetables and varieties available—is the application of deep mulch. We put 12 or more inches of dry hay over the beds before freezing temperatures begin in the fall (plastic sheeting on top keeps water out). That way, we're still eating winter crops when the spring garden starts producing its first greens. And that's a gardener's thrill!

We dry herbs and onions, can tomatoes, and store winter squash. All else comes straight from the garden . . . a year round harvest. 

Spring and Fall Garden

Plant these crops in February and harvest in June. Replant the garden in July and harvest in November. 

Peas: An early variety such as Little Marvel or Maestro works well. Soak overnight before planting to speed germination. Replanted for Cabbage: A midseason variety such as Copenhagen Market serves us well. (You can also grow cabbage in the winter garden.)

Spinach: Winter Bloomsdale is our choice. Tear out as necessary to make room for broccoli. Replanted for Broccoli: Johnny's Waltham 29 is our choice here, which can also be intercropped with spinach in the spring garden.

Beet Greens: The perfect spring green for salads and for cooking. Detroit Dark Red is just one good variety. Replanted for Bok Choy: This provides great greens deservedly gaining in popularity. (It's also call Pak Choi.)

Lettuce: Black-Seeded Simpson's our favorite. Oak Leaf planted the previous November will come up super-early in spring. Try it! Replanted for Carrots: Keep them watered. We like Red Cored Chantenay. Save space for some White Chinese "winter" radishes from Burpee.

Cauliflower: Abuntia or Stoke's Early Abundance from Thompson & Morgan are good and early. We also like Snow Crown and Snow King. Replanted for Kohlrabi: Great raw or cooking, it deserves more popularity. Early White Vienna's the best.

Green Onions: We transplant February-started Ebenezer globes outdoors in April. On September 1, we put some in borders of the fall garden. Replanted for Tyfon Holland Greens: This delicious cross between a turnip and Chinese cabbage is from Nichols.

Chinese Cabbage: Try Burpee Two Seasons Hybrid or Johnny's Nagoda. Harvest when young and tender, before they bolt to seed. Replanted for: Peas: Maestro does will in fall, but we do love bush Sugar Snap's sweetness and high yield. We presoak our seed.

Turnip: Tokyo Cross Hybrid may be your best choice. Among the earliest, ol' Purple-Top has never failed us. Lettuce: Buttercrunch is a good choice, hardy and tasty. Putting a bit of hay over it , we can harvest it until Christmas. 

Summer and Winter Garden

Plant these crops in May and harvest in September. Replant the garden in August and harvest is January. 

Tomatoes: Big Girls, widely spaced and well staked, allow room to set out the new crop in August. Prune for rapid ripening. Replanted for Chinese Cabbage: In early June, we plant Michihli seeds in flats. Seedings are transplanted among tomatoes in early August.

Green Beans: We like ( and inoculate) Tendercrop and Blue Lake. Tear plants out without hesitation to make room for the new crop. Replanted for Corn Salad and Lettuce: Sow half a bed of each. Maches Corn Salad from Nichols is tasty and productive. Oak Leaf is the hardiest lettuce.

Lettuce: Salad Bowl and Black-Seeded Simpson are our summer favorites. Shade the maturing plants with a snow fence to preserve sweetness. Replanted with Carrots: Hybrid Danvers has been best for our winter garden (it can last until April!). Water the plants often the first three or four weeks.

Summer Squash: Harvest crookneck or zucchini when they're young and tasty, because huge ones such out plant energy. Replanted for Turnips: The best bet is Purple-Top White Globe. They're still sweet, under heavy mulch, in February and March.

Swiss Chard: A great green! Cut it back to make room for interplanting the brussels sprouts. Fordhook's our choice. Replanted for Brussels Sprouts: Jade Cross Hybrid always produces well for us. Plenty of hay is needed to cover-mulch it!

Sweet Peppers: We transplant a hybrid variety when all frost is gone. Its fuzzy nature demands critical care. Replanted for Kale: Start seeds in June, and transplant among the peppers in August. Use young leaves is salads, mature one cooked.

Cantaloupe: We love Ambrosia. Gentle tie vines up on trellises. Near harvest, prune vines to make room for beets. Replanted for Beets: Lutz are extra-good for winter. Beet roots tend to get woody after January thaw, but then produce new greens.

Cucumbers: Here again, use several short trellises and prune the lower leaves so sun can shine on the next crop at the proper time. Replanted for Spinach: We go with Winter Bloomdsle. Sprout seeds on paper towels and keep them well watered for first weeks in ground. 

Other Garden Sections

Winter Squash and Corn Patch

Potato Patch 

All-Year Beds

Parsnips

Asparagus

Leeks

Strawberries

Herbs

Jerusalem Artichokes


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