Thursday, April 29, 2010
"Organic vegetables from you home garden all year long." It was a bold claim. When I learned that the author Eliot Coleman gardened in Maine, the Four-Season Harvest went on my "must-read" list. I was thrilled to win this book in a giveaway from Homestead Revival.
Year round harvest brings to my mind forcing tomatoes in heated greenhouses, with subsequent expense and work. This book shares much simpler techniques for eating fresh produce year round. With cold frames and unheated tunnels, even in the harsh Maine winters, Coleman succeeds in growing food.
One of the keys of year round gardening is plant selection. No, it isn't possible to grow tomatoes, sweet corn, or watermelon in Maine January. But there are many vegetables that can be grown. Instead of wasting time, energy, and expense in growing heat loving plants, choose plants that will flourish in the lowering temperatures.
Though I expected lots of good advice on cold frames, this book also contained chapters on compost making, root cellars, and plant pests. The appendix contains a alphabetical list of all common (and some not-so-common) vegetables with growing info, storage tips, and favorite varieties. Interspersed throughout the book are stories from Coleman's winter trip to southern France. Surprisingly, Maine shares the same latitude as France. Though Maine has a harsher climate, they receive the same amount of sunlight, even in the middle of the winter, as the fresh vegetable capital!
Last year we experimented with growing salad greens in a small hoop house with good success. Now I'm eager to try a few new tips and maybe increase our winter harvest.
My favorite gardening books are written by gardeners who share from their years of personal experience. This book will join the ranks of authors like Gene Logsdon in my library. Some authors give so much information that gardening appears to be a task only for seasoned veterans. Four Season Gardening was an informative but immensely encouraging. It was the perfect spring read and one I'm sure to turn to often this summer and fall.