The Winter Harvest Handbook

by Daisy on 01/31/2012

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Wow.

This book is exciting.

To a vegetable gardening nerd, like me, it is heady stuff.

Listen to this:

“. . . it’s a misconception that all vegetable crops need summerlike temperatures for best growth.”

Now, I knew that, of course.  I’m not saying I’ve never heard of cool-weather crops, but reading this on page one of chapter one, sets up for this entire book which is all about this poorly-understood topic.  I know about cool weather gardening, but now I can really learn the whys and wherefores, the nuts and bolts.  Very plant nerdy to feel such excitement, but, confession is good for the soul.

Another statement that made my heart go pitter pat:

“In addition to the concern about cold temperatures, a second misconception about winter growing is that day length is too short.  Many people believe that supplementary lighting will be required.  However, short winter-day length is not the barrier it appears to be.”

Can it be true?  If it’s true in Maine where the author farms, it must be even more so where I live in the South.  Very exciting.

The techniques discussed here emphasize ease, simplicity, and passive means, not expensive heated greenhouses and complicated interventions.  Nice, because I’m cheap and lazy.

One of the principle methods discussed in this book is using hoop houses.  For extreme cold, the crops inside what he calls “cold houses” are covered again with row covers.

“The protected crops still experience temperatures below freezing, but nowhere near as low as they would without the inner layer.  For example, when the outdoor temperature drops to -15 deg. F (-26 deg C), the temperature under the inner layer of the cold house drops only to 15 deg F to 18 deg F above zero (-10 deg C to -8 deg C) on average.  The cold-hardy vegetables are far hardier than growers might imagine and, in our experience, many can easily survive temperatures down to 10 deg F (-12 deg C) or lower as long as they are not exposed to the additional stressors of outdoor conditions.”

I love Coleman’s descriptions of the classic French intensive market gardening system, both of the past and the present.  The take-aways from this system inform his current methods and are so inspirational.

You will drool over the photos of fields of salad greens and hoop houses filled with patchworks of gorgeous, colorful vegetables.

This book is a must-have for commercial growers and backyard hobbyists looking to expand their growing season.  I’ve been playing at winter gardening myself, mostly hit-and-miss, and am looking forward to applying Coleman’s decades of research and experience into making my garden more productive year-round.

If you would like to enter to win one of the two copies Chelsea Green Publishing has set aside for our us, click the link below which will take you to a page set up just for Little House in the Suburbs readers.

The Winter Harvest Handbook Giveaway

 



{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Tammy R. January 31, 2012 at 9:37 am

Fantastic! Thanks! I entered at Chelsea Green’s site. I have wanted to get this book ever since it came out. I have his other book about the 4 season harvest and it was so eye opening but living in Michigan I am extremely interested in that winter harvest!!

Heidi January 31, 2012 at 10:33 am

Thanks so much for putting this together. I read 4 season gardening and it was so inspirational, this book may actually put the fire under me to get it done.

mari_smith February 1, 2012 at 7:11 am

We don’t really have a winter here in South Florida but it looks like an interesting read. Who know, maybe one day I’ll live in a place with a real winter.

carol February 1, 2012 at 8:12 am

I’ve been using home made “hoop houses” this winter and I am harvesting broccoli, cauliflower and radishes. The cabbage heads are still growing as are the brussel sprouts. I’ve even managed to keep my artichoke plants from dieing off. The hand made plastic coverings can be as complicated or simple as you want. There are all sorts of ideas on the web. I’m all over this winter garden thing! The lack of pests or anything even resembling a squash bug makes it a breeze!

Tomato Lady February 1, 2012 at 8:16 am

carol–Oh, my, I know! And the weeds stop growing . . . I almost forget about bugs in the winter. I’ve been wondering if I should try artichokes or cardoons. . .

Michelle Eging February 1, 2012 at 9:12 am

this looks like a wonderful read. I’m adding it to my to-read list on Goodreads! Thanks for sharing:)

waggie February 1, 2012 at 10:47 am

What perfect timing! I tried to do a winter garden this year, but didn’t protect as I should have. But, I did put out some seeds about a month ago. We then got hit with an bad snow storm, a family member got really sick and life happened. I didn’t check on my seeds until about a month later. They are all growing and looking great! It made me realize that I can grow all year long. This book would be a great help. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!

Angelina Haley February 7, 2012 at 7:29 am

I have a veggie garden, but have never tried doing this through the winter. How informative! Thanks for the great info, would love a chance to win this book!

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