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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grow A Garden in Winter--Book Recommendation

Last fall my husband planted onions, kale, and collards as a cool weather crop. We ate them through the fall and starting again in the early spring. This week we finally dug up the last of those onions, and we are still eating the kale. (The collards became a treat for some of the wild critters who ate them after the first snow last year.) The success of this planting led us to research what else we could raise in cold weather.

We are interested in this for two reasons:
  1. We enjoy eating fresh food from our garden for taste, saving money, and to eat healthier foods.
  2. If self-sufficiency ever becomes a necessity versus a lifestyle choice, the ability to grow food year-round could be life-saving.
We found a book that we will be using this year as a guide in creating a winter garden, The Winter Harvest Handbook, by Eliot Coleman. The subtitle, "Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses," describes it pretty well.

Although written by a small commercial farmer, the instructions are easily adaptable to the home gardener. Here is the Table of Contents.
  1. The Winter Harvest
  2. Historical Inspiration
  3. Getting Started
  4. The Yearly Schedule
  5. Sunlight
  6. The "Cold" Greenhouse
  7. The "Cool" Greenhouse
  8. Winter Crops
  9. Summer Crops
  10. Greenhouse Design
  11. Year-Round Intensive Cropping
  12. Soil Preparation
  13. Sowing
  14. Weed Control
  15. Harvesting in Winter
  16. Marketing and Economics
  17. Pests
  18. Insects and Diseases
  19. Tools for the Small Farm
  20. Deep-Organic Farming and the Small Farm
The book is full of detailed, specific information that you can actually use. There are three components to his system:
  • Cold-hearty vegetables
  • Succession-planting
  • Protected cultivation
Some of the vegetables like carrots, spinach, and turnips taste even better as a winter crop.

As one reviewer on Amazon noted,
You'll also learn about vertical production of tomatoes and how to create your own cold frame with quick hoops made of electrical conduit and 10-foot-wide spun-bonded row cover held down by sandbags. These hoops can cover the same area as a 22 by 48 foot greenhouse at 5% of the cost.
Out of 40 ratings, 34 are "5 stars", and 5 are "4 stars." We give it 5 stars for it's practical, easy-to-read content and illustrations.

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1 comment:

Millers Grain House said...

I need to get a hold of this book!!

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