Gardening Inspiration Giveaway

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With the arrival of freezing temperatures and shorter days, there isn’t much to do in my winter garden. All of the beds are tucked in under low tunnels, but I manage to venture out at least twice weekly to harvest root crops and greens for our winter meals. So although all of my garden beds are in full production, winter is still a slow time, and a chance for me to reflect on last year’s successes and plan for next year.

A Thanksgiving harvest. Although I grow on less than 1/10th an acre, I have enough vegetables in fall and winter to sell (thus my farm name on the photo).

A late November harvest. Although I grow on less than 1/10th an acre, I have enough vegetables in fall and winter to sell (thus my urban farm’s name on the photo).

If you also like to curl up with your favorite seed catalogs and gardening books this time of year, then you’ll love the two (!) end-of-the-year giveaways that I’m sponsoring — one to inspire you, and another to provide seeds that will help make your 2015 garden dreams come true.


Giveaway 1

Down to Earth: Cold-Climate Gardens & Their Keepers

I’ve had my eye on this book for many months, long before it ever came to print. Of course the “cold-climate” aspect was the real hook for me, but I was equally intrigued by the “down-to-earth” promise — the chance to learn how other gardeners rise to gardening challenges. In a rare move for me, I contacted the authors of the book for help purchasing a copy; imagine my delight when authors Jennifer Heath and Helen McAllister mailed me one as a gift!




Down to Earth is a colorful parade of gardens located in the Elk Valley of British Columbia, Canada. There’s something here for gardeners in every climate, however, as four of Canada’s nine plant hardiness zones span this area (which also serves as a beautiful background for the book’s photography). The book’s 192 pages are heavy in photography, but also include growing tips, recipes, and light gardening how-to. Although the focus is on cold-climate gardening (the Elk Valley’s frost-free growing season ranges from 60 to 100 days), a number of other topics are briefly explored: composting, raised bed gardening, seed-saving, and growing in small, urban spaces. These short forays are inspiring, rather than overwhelming — a great start for beginning gardeners.


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Although Down to Earth is small on practical how-to, it is BIG on gardening inspiration. Jennifer and Helen have obviously made many gardening friends during the book’s production, and they happily share them with us. I came away from the book feeling like I had just attended a very lovely garden tour — one that included a behind-the-scenes pass, along with a souvenir guide to each gardener’s history, tips, and favorite varieties.



I’m “re-gifting” my free copy of Down to Earth to a lucky reader, even though it’s tempting to just keep it as my own (don’t worry, I have Helen’s blessing). If you’d like a shot at receiving this lovely book, simply share a favorite memory from your 2014 garden, along with your garden’s location, in the comments below. The recipient will be chosen at random and notified by email one week from today.

Want to purchase a copy? Canadian residents are encouraged to order directly (and receive a signed copy!) from Oolichan Books via Down to Earth can also be purchased via Amazon (affiliate link).


Note: I received a free copy of this book, without any stipulation that I review the book on this blog or offer it in a giveaway. My opinions are expressly my own, and I am not being financially compensated in any way to offer them here.


Don’t want to miss Giveaway #2? Subscribe to receive blog updates (in the sidebar), or “like” me on Facebook.



  1. Paula Carpenter

    December 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Would really appreciate having this. Being new to a colder climate, I find that I’m really going to have to change my gardening routine

  2. Lisa from Iroquois

    December 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Not sure I am prouder about; for the first time I got parsley to grow this year. And I was getting tiny broccoli bits until into November. Also left the broccoli in the ground long enough to get seeds, another first. I’m in the Eastern border lands of Ontario, right on the St. Lawrence Seaway. I’d love to get this book. This year we are experimenting with a little bit of winter gardening with some kale and spinach under cover.

  3. Erika

    December 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    This year was the first year I took the step out from windowgardening to a part of an allotment. I was so sure I would mess it up, having MS and being incredible heat-sensitive but that feeling when I pulled my new potatoes of the ground, carried them home and cooked them within the hour was the best. I have renewed for 2015 and now I have a notebook of ideas and plans how to make it easier for me during the summer, and I will not be doing the heavyliftings myself. I learned that lesson!
    My allotmentgarden is in the northern outskirts of Lund, Sweden (but I do have friends in the states who will act as receivers and then ship it to me if postage is a problem and I am lucky to win)

  4. Cricket

    December 16, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Wow this would be soooooo AWESOME for me,I am looking for all the help I can get with winter growing,My son is in Navy and I grow peppers and he loves the hottest ones the hotter the better LOL…. I want to grow kale and other greens tooo….. This would be me a fantastic gift 🙂 Good luck to us all ♥

  5. karenarnett2013

    December 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    My food gardening in Mt. Healthy, Ohio (next to Cincinnati) this past season was minimal compared with many previous years. I limited myself to growing sugar snap peas, garlic and onions, cherry tomatoes and broccoli, and lots of flowers where the veggies normally grow. One pleasant surprise was how much regrowth of broccoli florets I got until the cold set in for real – I was able to pick a small basket of florets every week or so. I’d only expected the main broccoli harvest but not this residual harvest.

  6. Wendy Janzen

    December 16, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I am in a suburb of Vancouver BC (zone 8). My proudest moment this year was harvesting sweet potatoes after being told there was no way I could.

    • Rebecca Cuttler

      December 17, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Wendy — I’m so impressed! As a fellow Vancouverite, I want to know your secrets 🙂 How did you do it?

      • WendyM

        December 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

        I’ve grown Sweet Potatoes in Zone 4b here in Ontario. It’s not as difficult as you think. See if you can get a copy of Ken Allan’s book (link to his site). He is in Kingston, Ontario and has been growing them for years. He is retired from selling Slips though, but they are available for order elsewhere in Canada.

  7. HeidiW

    December 16, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I recently discovered your blog and I’m super excited to have a winter garden next year! We moved to Virginia a little over a year ago and I had a wonderful time with my first Virginia garden. I met some very interesting insects and grew my first crop of peas ever.

  8. Emily

    December 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I’m not sure I can narrow down a favorite! I love the garden in the early stages..when things just start to sprout…so exciting…. but I also love harvest time… rewarded for all the hard work. My 9 year old son helps me out and so do the kids I babysit… seeing their faces when we find food in the garden is priceless. Getting to teach them about where their food should come from – nothing better. I’m still learning too!! this was our second year. We lost a lot to bugs… that would be my least favorite moment! LOL
    We are located in Central Ohio.

  9. Bruce Garrison

    December 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    My favorite memory of our 2014 garden is picking fresh ears of Silver Queen corn and heating them in the microwave and eating them with juicy slices of heirloom tomatoes. We live in Campbellsville, KY.

  10. Amanda Memphis

    December 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    This year I was so proud that I was able to grow lots of lettuce , carrots , beans , herbs , tomatoes and much more. Our garden is in our backyard. In 2015 I hope to add a few more garden beds.

  11. Wendy M

    December 16, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    2014 brought about our first winter garden attempt in many years. We found that plastic promoted too much condensation after the wettest summer in years. We’ve already begun to rethink this for the 2015 season as a result. Mother of a Hubbard has been an Inspiration to Me as I plan. Looking forward to the many different faces (and Seasons) of my garden in the coming year here in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

  12. kimberly

    December 16, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    My favorite memories are of my 2 year old grandson picking tomatoes and sugar snap peas.

  13. Sandy

    December 16, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Your photo of the late november harvest is so wonderful!!!! I am still working on growing winter crops here. We do not get Temps or Snow you do. I should be able to grow winter crops well. I think its more a mind set for me LOL. I need to change my mind set! The book looks and sounds lovely but don’t enter me in this give away :O).

  14. Anna

    December 16, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I so want this, Canadian gardens, yeah!

  15. Janet Wilkinson

    December 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I was hungry one day while picking Kentucky Wonder pole beans this summer and just as a joke to myself took a big bite of a raw bean. Holy cow, it was really good! The rest of the summer I actually had raw beans as a quick snack instead of something a lot less healthy like a cookie or piece of candy. I guess you’re never too old to learn. I am in zone 6 West Virginia near the Ohio River and I have a winter veggie raised bed for the first time. It has been staying 10 to 15 degrees warmer under a clear plastic cover than the outside air temp. I hope to get some fabric cover cloth soon and see how the bed does for the rest of the winter. Thanks Cathy for your instructional and inspirational posts!

  16. Jason lanham

    December 16, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I left my garden for bigger better lands! We landed about mile away and now I have a lot of work ahead of me. Front royal va mountains.

  17. Linda

    December 16, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I love to read gardening books and I love the photography.

  18. K. Reynolds

    December 16, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    This year my favorite garden memory is the giant waterfall of petunias I grew from seed in my window box. It exceeded all my expectations! And the red-purple color looked lovely against the pale yellow of the house. 🙂

  19. Linda B.

    December 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Hello! I am in a St. Louis, MO suburb called Kirkwood. My funniest 2014 gardening stories involve wildlife. Before I got my bird netting up around my main garden (not large), a mother rabbit decided to build her nest right in the middle. I could not get into the garden until late May and had to watch our cat every time she went outside. And in our front south-facing yard, I waited too long to take down a nest on the downspout, and mother and father Robin dive bombed me every time I walked near their nest, which was at the corner of the garden, and I could not do anything there either until late spring. It all actually fed very well into my procrastination tendencies: I had something to blame my tardiness on, and I still had a very nice garden the rest of the summer! Just found your blog… looking forward to reading! Cheers!

  20. Cheryl Byers

    December 17, 2014 at 2:29 am

    I garden in the mountains of eastern Kentucky in raised beds in my front yard. My favorite memory of my 2014 garden is my cauliflower. I had never grown it before and did not know what to expect. My husband is on a restrictive diet due to diabetes and kidney problems so the broccoli I usually grow is out of his diet now. He likes cauliflower and can eat all he wants of it so it joined the garden this year. It grew to be huge and I was very proud of it’s success.

  21. Janine Wiese

    December 17, 2014 at 6:32 am

    I have two small raised bed and 2-3 bed around our house in a small village. I decided to try a lazy version of your low tunnels. So far my carrots are still alive and well. I keep saying I will go and get what I really need to do it right. My 90 year old neighbor is amazed that I am trying this. Thanks for the great tips.

  22. Kim

    December 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Discovering a new favorite tomato — Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato.

  23. April from Ohio

    December 17, 2014 at 8:27 am

    My favorite garden memory from 2014 is growing tomatillos for the first time. It was also the first time anyone in our family has eaten them. I was surprised how citrus-y they tasted. We are going to grow more next year (I want to try the giant Plaza Latina that you recommend from Adaptive Seeds. Everyone who went in my garden would ask, “Is that a weed?”

    I’m from west central Ohio. Thanks for your great site & the giveaway!

  24. C Moore

    December 17, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I grew some beautiful sunflowers this year, despite the squirrels nibbling the undeveloped heads. I live in Denver, CO now, and after years of being spoiled by Northern California’s wonderful soil and growing climate, have had to adjust to poor soil needing amendments and the shortest summer growing season! Great giveaway… Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  25. mistymeadow

    December 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    A favorite gardening moment from here in northwestern NC (zone 6b) was watching our granddaughters discover all those potatoes underground.

  26. Carole

    December 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    We had lots of fun in the garden this year. But the German Giant and Dester tomatoes were my most memorable tasting.

    Zone 7 … NC

  27. Noelle goad

    December 18, 2014 at 9:39 am

    My first bite of a green tiger tomatoe I started from seed. I garden in southern Quebec, 1 mile from the Vermont border

  28. The Belvedere-Alyssa

    December 18, 2014 at 10:54 am

    My favorite memory is all the beans this past year! We just finished the last thing of dried beans. Without even planning for large amounts of beans we brought in pounds and pounds- it feels pretty great to yeild so much. Thanks for offering the giveaway.

  29. Jess

    December 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    We are in NW Iowa so I would love to have a cold climate gardening book! My best memory this year was having my daughters (4 and 18 months) devouring snap peas and grape tomatoes as fast as I could hand them over. Their ‘help’ with watering was pretty sweet, too.

  30. Helen West

    December 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I have just recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it lots. I garden in a Community Garden in Independence MO because of all the shade trees in my own yard. My mother was my gardening buddy and my best coach, but she passed away from a bad fall this spring. My best memory of this gardening year was watching her choose seeds for all the veggies she wanted to plant – lots more than we had room for! I will surely miss her next year, but have really good memories of our gardening together. Thanks for your great info!!

  31. Melonie Tanner

    December 18, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    My favorite memories from 2014 are gardening in my small greenhouse with my 7 year old twin Grandkids. A boy and a girl. We live in Wasilla, Alaska so a book on Cold Climate gardening would be right up my alley. My grandkids have been helping me grow tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and strawberries since they were 3. They love gardening and eating the rewards of their efforts.

  32. Tami Lewis

    December 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Here in Texas I was especially thrilled with my lettuce crop. Even when I thought it was all done with it kept surprising me with new heads! I think it was the perlite that helped.

  33. candice

    December 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I am from Vancouver Island, BC, and now live in Quebec, and it gets… COLD here, this would be a perfect book. My first garden was this year during the summer, and my favorite part was having my son harvest the vegetables each day. He was a great tomato picker! Next winter I plan to do a winter garden as well! This book would be a perfect research book!

  34. Liane

    December 19, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    I was finally able to have a great crop of carrots this year. Normally it seems i just get nice carrot tops that I feed to the chickens. I also was very happy that my nephew(18months) loved eating snap peas from my garden. My garden is located in Carmel,Indiana. Thanks for all the wonderful information you post i love learning more things about gardening

  35. lindsey r.

    December 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    My favorite garden moment was entering our produce in the county fair and winning blue ribbons across the board! My little girl even won best in show for her pumpkin. Virginia

  36. Katie

    December 22, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Year after year I love seeing my tulips bloom

  37. Pingback: Growing Together: Your Seed Picks

  38. loosecannon2

    March 8, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Not a very good memory.

    Our 2014 garden was in a flurry of activity because we moved to Knoxville, TN. & we tried to bring the gorgeous Kale & Sweet Potatoes with us. We asked if we could come back & get the rest of the Asparagus & Poblano Peppers & they happily said SURE!

    We returned to finish our crops & they had removed everything & put in a big patio! Actually, they sort of made fun of our old ways–THIS IS 2015 They SAID! No vegetables were saved—–

    I would love the book–thank you for the chance.

  39. Cricket

    March 9, 2015 at 10:40 am

    OMG I would love this so much wonderful info and help,I got my peppers an maters growing now and looking so great,Good luck to us all for winning this ♥ 🙂

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