Tips for Year Round Gardening Success

Tips for year round gardening success. Whether you live in Maine, Montana or Mississippi, you can reap fresh produce straight from the garden every season. Let planting guru Eliot Coleman show you how to beat the seasons.

| February/March 2000

A Garden For All Seasons

Planting guru Eliot Coleman shares tips for year round gardening success. 

Like most fresh homegrown vegetable enthusiasts, I have never wanted the garden to end. That doesn't mean I longed for an endless summer; I love the pleasures of fall, winter and spring. I just wanted year-round gardening success to produce freshly harvested food on the table. Somehow I always knew there had to be a simple way to combine cold-hardy crops with a little climatic protection during the colder times of the year. I am delighted to report that the results of 20 some years tinkering with this idea have proven me right. But first, some background on now it all came about.

I was inspired to turn my winter gardening dream into reality back in 1981, when I took on the job of farm manager at a private school in Vermont that grew most of its own food. In addition to rigorous academic studies, the school stressed practical experience on its farm as part and parcel of a student's education. But at the time I arrived the reality of the farm experience for the students was mostly limited to livestock care. From the end of fall vegetable harvest in early October — when canning, freezing and the stocking of the root cellar were completed — until the start of spring planting in May, there was no production of fresh garden vegetables. I was convinced we could engage both the minds and stomachs of the students more effectively if they had more hands-on garden experience.

I would, however, be working against historical fact. The school year was originally designed so students would be in school only during the cold winter months (non-growing season) and would be available to work on the family farm during the summer, when many hands were needed to help with the crops. Although this traditional schedule is modified slightly in some areas (such as in the potato growing districts of northern Maine, where some schools still open in August and then recess for the potato harvest in September), it is too well established everywhere else to think of changing it. If I wanted the students to grow fresh vegetables they would have to do it during the school year.

I was determined that it should be a serious, productive effort. I had little interest in providing a gardening experience that merely focused on protecting warm-season crops against frosts for a few struggling, unsatisfactory weeks into the fall. Nor did I wish to limit our production to the traditional hardy leftovers of the summer season. I was keenly aware that if teenagers were to be inspired, the effort would need more charisma than a field of Brussels sprouts. But budget constraints dictated that a large, heated greenhouse was out of the question. So my first choice was the cold frame. It has always been the simplest and least expensive climate moderator for the gardener of limited resources. Years ago, on a trip to Europe, I had seen large-scale commercial production of hardy winter vegetables in cold frames. And even though cold frames are no longer considered commercially viable, that matters little in a school or home garden setting where there's free land, free labor and where the spirit of hands-on group effort gets the job done.

8/5/2017 2:17:08 PM

We started gardening and we were gone wrong. We could not figure out why we were not getting the beautiful vegetables we were hoping for. People suggest to spray chemicals for vegetables and fruits but is poison and it is not organic vegetables. My lab professor referred a guide it helps me to grow my gardening as what we like, you can get the guide from here >> ( ) <<. I have recommended this system to all of my friends and family. We got good organic natural vegetables and fruits in the next harvest, one of the beautiful products in the market...*

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