6 Proven Strategies for Year-Round Harvests

Reader Contribution by Benedict Vanheems
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Photo by Getty Images/alisbalb

1. Extend Your Growing Season

Choose sheltered, sun-facing walls to help create a warmer microclimate that will keep tender crops such as tomatoes and peppers going for longer. Use row covers, tunnels, and cold frames to provide additional warmth and shelter.

2. Overwinter Vegetables

Some plants can keep cropping all winter. Grow salads leaves such as winter lettuce, leafy greens such as kale and spinach, not to mention carrots, parsnips, and leeks.

Space plants generously to encourage good air circulation and to maximize the amount of sunlight reaching every plant. Use a greenhouse or cold frame to help protect crops right through the winter in colder regions.

3. Close the ‘Hungry Gap’

The period when the last year’s crops are done but before the current season’s are ready is known as the “hungry gap.” Careful planning can avoid this. For instance, plant broccoli, cabbage, and late-season leeks in summer to stand over winter. Some perennial crops will also provide a harvest in spring, including asparagus and rhubarb.

4. Make an Early Start

Sow early under a cold frame, in a greenhouse or hoop house, or on a sunny windowsill. Get an even earlier start using grow lights.

Sow onions and peas in plug trays from late winter to transplant into beds in spring. For others, pre-warm the soil by placing row covers, tunnels, or cloches on them prior to planting to bring the sowing date forward by two to three weeks.

5. Spread Your Harvests

Sow little and often throughout spring and summer, and select a mix of early, mid, and late-season varieties to spread out the harvests as much as possible.

6. Plant in Succession

Plant succession crops from midsummer onwards for autumn and winter harvests. Plant crops that are suitable for storage such as maincrop carrots, plus quick-growing favorites such as bush beans.

Make space for a dedicated nursery area in a greenhouse or cold frame, or in pots in a sunny, sheltered spot, and raise succession crops from seed. This means you’ll have them ready to plant as soon as space becomes available in the garden, so you don’t waste any of the growing season.

Plan for Year-Round Harvests

Our Garden Planner has a number of powerful features to help you plan your harvests. For instance, the Succession Planting feature helps you see where and when gaps will appear. The Custom Filter button can be used to see what can be sown or planted during a specific month; and the Plant List shows recommended sowing, planting, and harvesting times for all the plants in your plan, and it automatically calculates how much your cold frames, greenhouses, and row covers will extend the season by.

Learn more about year-round harvesting in this video.

More Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

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