Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Four Season Harvest: Is it Right for You?
Spring has yet to spring this year. Reports from my friends in all parts of North America are riddled with groaning of more snow, damp cold, and a dreary sky. Everyone is itching to get outside, dig in the dirt, go hiking, or just be able to take a nice leisurely stroll after supper without fear of slipping on ice. I spoke with my sister yesterday who is a lifelong gardener. I envy her green thumb for she can make anything grow. She can revive a plant that I would toss in the rubbish bin.
I enjoy gardening. At the moment, I'm researching and making plans for my first cold frame garden. An expert gardener, Eliot Coleman, has been producing food year round for about thirty years. Of all the places, Eliot Coleman and his wife, Barbara Damrosch, tend this garden in the state of Maine. Their story sparked immediate admiration within me.
The state of Kentucky does enjoy all four seasons. Unlike the frosty prairies of Manitoba, we have a recognizable Spring preceding our hot and humid Summer season. We slip slowly into Autumn with a slight break that the old timer's called 'Indian Summer'. A slight reprieve from the impending cold that will soon dampen our spirits, Indian Summer is that last great opportunity to enjoy the warmth on your skin. Greet a brilliant sun each morning and enjoy sipping tea on the back porch as the coolness creeps into the night breeze beckoning us all to peaceful repose beneath the starlit sky.
Gardening is a great pastime in my state of Kentucky. It always makes me smile to see the ladies out in their gardens on that first nice day, arms glistening with oil, turning the ground over and preparing for another bountiful year. The first frost is always a tad depressing as 'Ole Man Winter' sweeps in and takes the last morsels of life, leaving it to die beneath the icy rain and patchy snow. The mad rush in between to can and freeze every last ounce of freshness is what makes up most of your Summer outside of backyard parties and picnics.
Eliot and Barbara have done away with all of that nonsense. Wouldn't it be nice to benefit from your gardening toil all year? Having your plate change with the seasons, not because your garden is gone, but because your Spring/Summer harvest has been replaced with a bountiful Autumn/Winter harvest! Foods that yes, need sunshine, but fair much better in the cooler temperatures. Coleman and Damrosch claim that the gardener's greatest enemy is the biting winter wind. Sheltering your garden delights inside a cold frame protects them while they grow into gorgeous salads and lovely winter vegetables that you can enjoy no matter how much it snows!
Plans for our four season vegetable garden are under way. My construction list is almost complete. If you live in a climate that also enjoys its seasonal changes but would like to harvest and grow your food all year round, I encourage you to take a look at Eliot Coleman's site. He has a variety of books available that can answer the questions of a beginner to expert gardener.
You can find the DIY instructions to build your own cold frame at www.myoutdoorplans.com.
Based on our moving dates, I may be looking at my first Autumn/Winter garden before I ever think of Spring planting. Next, I will research good and reliable sources for heirloom seeds.
I'm enjoying the journey. Will you join me?
Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman
The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook by Barbara Damrosch