Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Undercover Gardens


I've been trying something different in my Winter garden.  Well, I guess the different idea is that I actually have a Winter garden.  

I usually pull up all of the old plants in the Fall, let the garden sit idle all Winter, and then plant more veggies in the Spring. 

The problem with Spring gardens in this area is that our Spring is very short.  Summer hits us before we know it and any cool weather crops get fried before they get a chance to produce very much.

I read Four-Season Harvest last year by Eliot Coleman last year and decided to try my hand at his techniques. 

He actually grows veggies all year round and he lives in Maine.  I figured if he could succeed in Maine, then I could give it a try in Virginia. 

I decided to use row covers to start with and add plastic sheets as the weather got colder.  But with my crazy life, I never got around to adding the plastic.  The process still seemed to work well.


The hoops were made with PVC tubing.  I attached the row covers with something a bit odd - I used hair clips that I bought at the dollar store.  But please save your money.  They only hold the fabric if the wind isn't blowing.   Unfortunately, this Winter has been a very windy season in our area.  I've had to reattach the covers almost every day - not fun!  I'll be looking for something stronger to use for next year.

We've enjoyed watching the veggies (cabbage, spinach, swiss chard, red cabbage, corn salad, and mustard greens) all sitting cozily throughout the Winter within their walled home. 

(the weeds still grow even when under the cover of the row cover)

I planted my veggies in late Summer and early Fall.  The plants grew well.  Before the first frost, we put up the hoops and the row covers.  After the first frost, the veggies never really grew - they just stayed  rooted in the soil.  Now, as the weather warms up, they are starting to grow a bit more.  We'll be able to harvest everything before it bolts. 

This book would be a good Summer read so that you would be ready to start your own Four-Season garden in the Fall.  His website is very interesting and will absolutely inspire you if you desire to start growing your own food. 

1 comment:

  1. That is really cool!! It would make me happy to see fresh veggies growing during a snow storm. Kind of a "Haha" to the weather...which I am hating right now.

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