Gardening Techniques for Year-Round Vegetable Production

Grow your own gorgeous greens even in the coldest winter with these gardening techniques for year-round vegetable production.


| December 2003/January 2004



Learn about year-round vegetable production for your garden. Eliot Coleman checks greens growing in a cold frame inside a greenhouse at his Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine.

Learn about year-round vegetable production for your garden. Eliot Coleman checks greens growing in a cold frame inside a greenhouse at his Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine.


Photo by Lynn Karlin

Learn about year-round vegetable production to harvest a variety of delicious greens and produce in fall and winter.

Gardening Techniques for Year-Round Vegetable Production

Grow your own gorgeous greens even in the coldest winter with these techniques.

It's enjoyable and instructive to review the progress of an idea you have developed over the years, trying to remember the hallmarks of different stages and the particular influences that resulted in memorable changes.

I was encouraged to do just that when one of my children, Clara Coleman, told me she wanted to try our year-round, fresh-vegetable production at her Colorado home. I developed this technique over time in New England — what started as a simple cold frame has now grown to a 15,000-square-foot commercial greenhouse that I operate with my wife, Barbara Damrosch.

I built my first cold frame in 1966, inspired to adapt two 3-by-6-foot storm windows left over from some renovation work. I nailed four boards together as a frame with the backboard a few inches higher than the front, laid the storm windows on top and grew some delicious early spring and late fall salad greens for myself. At the same time I tried my hand at field production, but the cold frame proved the most successful of the two. I wanted to learn more about this way of growing, so I started to read all I could on the subject.

The 1886 edition of Peter Henderson's classic Gardening For Profit, which has been reprinted (see MOTHER'S Bookshelf, Page 94) introduced me to the extensive frame yards that were a staple of U.S. market gardens through the 1920s. Whole fields were filled with glass-covered frames, called "lights," that were moved routinely off the hardier crops and onto tender, newly set-out crops in an almost balletic sequence as the seasons progressed. C.H. Nissley's 1929 book Starting Early Vegetables and Flowering Plants Under Glass opened my eyes to the many ingenious ways in which the old-time growers refined this technology, making it easier every year to move frames to different garden areas and to incorporate green manures into the rotation to improve the soil.





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