The colder months can be a bittersweet time for many, especially for those who don’t know what to grow. When the fall/winter comes around, many of us take the necessary precautions to put our garden to bed during the winter, but it is possible to continue harvesting vegetables during this time through year-round gardening. With careful planning and execution, your garden can thrive year round, and while it may take some getting used to, we’re here to share some of our best tips.
To sustain a year-round garden takes careful planning ahead of time. One of the key components you’ll want to evaluate is what kind of vegetables you want to grow during this time. Not all vegetables will be able to thrive in the winter, however, there are still options! Vegetables such as carrots, chard, kale and scallions can be planted between June and October. Midsummer is a great rule of thumb to start preparing for winter crops.
Another part of the planning process is to have a strong sense of the climate conditions in your area as well as potential challenges those conditions can pose on your crops. The more you plan, the more you can take the necessary steps early on to protect your crops and set them up for a successful harvest.
Location is an important factor when it comes to year-round gardens. As the winter comes around, there are some changes in sunlight that you’ll want to be prepared to address. Ideally, you can plant your garden anywhere, whether you choose to stick to your own backyard, use an urban space, or even a community allotment garden.
You’ll want to make sure that wherever your garden is located, that it is in a place that gets a good amount of winter sunlight without being blocked by shadows from trees or fences. If you live in the northern hemisphere, a great rule of thumb is to make sure your garden or frames are facing south in order to achieve as much sunlight as possible so that your crops can thrive.
Plant in Succession
Succession planting is another way to help build and sustain your garden year-round. This involves the process of planting a crop immediately after a crop has finished harvesting so that you continue to produce a consistent harvest throughout the year.
This is a method that makes excellent use of timing and space. Succession crops might include vegetables that mature quickly or vegetables that you have decided to transplant from midsummer. These succession plants will be able to take advantage of the conditions that the previous crops had in order to continue growing strong.
Protect your plants against extreme weather
Weather extremes are one of the biggest threats of the colder seasons, and arguably one of the main reasons that can steer people away from wanting to grow a year-round garden. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to protect your crops against weather extremes so that you can limit the unexpected effects these weather challenges might hold.
Simple adjustments in your garden like utilizing raised beds, mulch and wind buffers can work wonders in protecting your plants.
Your garden may also benefit from season extenders, so that your crops can continue to grow on for longer. Row covers, cold frames and cloches can offer additional protection from frost. If you’re worried about the weather or frost affecting your crops from growing, consider evaluating how you can offer them some more shelter.
Incorporate perennials and vegetables
Just because spring and summer are over doesn’t mean you have to completely forgo the vibrance that so many of your plants brought to your garden. There are still many plants that can survive in winter, depending on where you are located. Perennial plants can save you a lot of time in terms of doing a complete garden makeover during the winter time, especially since they retain their foliage year round and can last up to a few years depending on upkeep. Mulching is key when it comes to maintaining the life of your perennials, and perennials such as trees and shrubs can even off your garden some additional privacy during the colder months.
With all of the above information being said, sustaining a vibrant, year-round garden is possible despite some of the fears of challenges the weather changes can pose. All it takes is careful planning ahead, a bit of research and persistence in order to make it work. The more you develop a familiarity and practice of year-round gardening, the more you’ll increase your likelihood of having a successful, consistent harvest all year-round. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take what you’ve learned to get familiar and discover what works best for your year-round garden.
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