Think Christmas in July: A Winter Gardening Giveaway

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Sweltering in the summer heat and humidity? Think cool thoughts.

Think about working in your garden in WINTER, with no bugs, and almost non-existent weeds and plant diseases.

Sounds like a dream, right? Just skipping out to the garden to harvest a beautiful winter salad, or some gorgeous root crops to roast in the oven.

Overwintered salad mix, leeks, cabbage, and gourmet mache... harvested in March after one of our coldest sub-zero winters on record.

Overwintered salad mix, leeks, cabbage, and gourmet mache… harvested in March after one of our coldest sub-zero winters on record.

 

Let this be your winter to make it happen!

But unless you plan on eating only salads through the winter, you can’t wait until summer is over. Now’s the time that my winter gardening preparations go into full gear. It’s time to start sowing seeds in flats for brassicas, like broccoli and cabbage, to be transplanted at the end of July and early August. And I’ve got to finalize my seed orders for those things that will be direct-sown in the garden — a task that will start in mid-July and not end until around Halloween for me (since I offer a winter CSA vegetable subscription).

Getting another bed ready to plant salad mix on October 29th, 2014.

Getting another bed ready to plant salad mix on October 29th, 2014.

 

Need a helping hand? How about some winter vegetable seeds, or some fabric row cover for a rocking winter low tunnel? These items are all planned for the next two giveaways in my “Growing Together” series, but let’s get you ready with some winter gardening know-how first: I’m giving away copies of Eliot Coleman’s classic winter gardening book, Four Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long (affiliate link).

This is the book that got me started in winter gardening. Years ago, like many of you, I thought the gardening season ended in the fall. Thankfully, the hustle-and-bustle of having a new baby in the house prevented me from cleaning out the garden and planting cover crop at season’s end, and in the following late February, I discovered spinach and carrots that had overwintered on their own. I pulled some carrots, expecting them to be woody and bland, but thank goodness curiosity got the better of me and I tasted them before giving them a pitch! They were crisp and incredibly sweet… much sweeter than they’d been in late summer (and thus, why they’d been left in the ground!). An internet search of “sweet winter carrots” led me to Eliot Coleman (“candy carrots” are a winter specialty on his Maine organic farm). After several passes through Four Season Harvest, a winter gardener was born!

Mr. Coleman’s techniques for growing through Maine’s harsh winters were easy to adapt to my unique climate, even though I’ve refined planting dates and low tunnel management methods for my plant hardiness zone in the Kentucky mountains (zone 6b). If you’re a long-time follower of this blog, you know that my winter growing has been so abundant and successful, that I now speak for Extension and even state growers’ conferences. I’ll soon be sharing all of my know-how in my upcoming ebook (delayed due to our move, but fingers-crossed that I’ll be finished by August), but in the meantime, I’m happy to share Mr. Coleman’s inspirational  book with TWO lucky gardeners.

To enter, just share your plant hardiness zone and motivation to garden in winter in the comments below. And for extra entries and good karma, please share this giveaway or ANY of the winter gardening posts that I’ll be sharing this week on Facebook! Contest ends next Tuesday (June 30th) at midnight… good luck!

 

More on Winter Gardening from Mother of a Hubbard

Winter Vegetable Planting Dates

10 Reasons Why Low Tunnels Beat Cold Frames for Winter Gardening

Cheating Winter: The Little Known Truth about Frost and Freeze Tables

10 Vegetables More Cold Hardy than Kale

Is Clear Plastic Necessary? Success with Fabric Row Covers

Calculating Your Garden’s Persephone Days

Fabric or Plastic? Choosing Row Cover

Candy Carrots and Turnip Treats: Why Some Veggies Are Sweeter in Winter

How to Build a Low Tunnel

 

 

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