I mentioned yesterday that I loved to read and that I was currently reading Eliot Coleman’s newest book The Winter Harvest Handbook. I’ve read his other books Four-Season Harvest and The New Organic Grower which are both great. When I read I keep a small notebook at hand to jot down info, quotes and other interested things. My notebook is organized into sections, one for each book, a section for plant ideas and a section for each month so I can jot down when I need to do specific things related to a time line.
While reading this book I found myself jotting down so many notes, I decided I’d better buy the book (so I did). Since the information in this book is seasonal and time specific, I knew it would be a worthy addition to my reference library. I’ll be referencing it often in my efforts to make the most of my garden throughout the long winters here in my zone 5 NE Ohio garden. I knew if I didn’t buy it I’d be constantly requesting it from the library trying to remember when to plant leeks or lettuce for a mid-winter harvest.
If you’re interesting in winter gardening at all, I’d highly recommend buying this book. Now is the time to start reading about winter gardening so you have a good understanding and can start planning for it. If I had spent a little more time last summer and fall I’d be harvesting a bounty of fresh spinach, leeks and other vegetables right now instead of waiting for my spring planted spinach and lettuce to mature enough to harvest. I’m really hoping to overwinter some carrots this year as well as some leeks.
This book is full of charts and graphs to help you understand what and when you need to plant specific crops for late fall, early and late winter as well as early and late spring harvests. Eliot does a great job explaining why we can grow food in our northern cold climates even though traditionally people don’t think you can. You just have to have an understanding of how the fewer daylight hours affect the maturation rate. The list of of specific cultivars they grow at the Four Season Farm that’s included in this book is a great resource and jumping off point for anyone interested in winter gardening. You can’t just plant any kind of lettuce in the winter garden.
While the book is written by a market gardener, and their techniques are done on a large scale, the ideas are easily translated to the small home garden. I enjoyed his previous winter gardening book (Four-Season Harvest), but it felt a bit more “out of reach” for me as a small grower without room for a greenhouse. In this book he goes into much greater detail about all the experiments they’ve done and what worked and what didn’t. It really makes is seem much more attainable for the small home gardening with things like those hoop houses I built over my raised beds were built with winter gardening in mind.
I really like that he recommends specific products, like lighter floating row cover instead of a heavier grade. Which crops they use soil blocks to start seeds for, when they start leek seeds and how and when they harvest different kinds of greens. I just ordered some more floating row cover and some greenhouse plastic for my hoop houses using his recommendations. You can be sure I’ll keep you posted on my efforts to harvest more from my garden in the winter months.
I’ll keep reading stacks of gardening books and let you know which ones are worthy of your time (an in depth feature that will be on my new blog – yep, blog redesign coming soon). Of course if you end up buying this book, buy through my amazon link above or in the sidebar, they give me a few cents and I certainly appreciate it (helps pay my hosting bills).
Have you ever thought about, or had experience with winter gardening? Any great tips or books you’d recommend?Filed under Books | Comments (25)