Extending the Season
Although it is now November and the weather is getting cooler, our garden is still growing. Garlic was planted in October. It will be harvested next July. Late crops of greens such as chard, bok choi, mustard, kale and arugula were planted in late September and are doing well. Carrots are also still growing, with their bright green feathery foliage visible above ground. A quick glance at the garden and you’d almost think it is spring with all of the fresh new growth.
We are experimenting with growing broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower late in the season by creating mini-hoop houses. Wire has been bent to form hoops and will be covered with clear plastic or spun fabric to provide some protection and moderation of temperatures. In this same way, depending on the weather, we should be able to continue harvesting lettuce and other greens for a while, probably at least into December.
Crops such as carrots, beets, onions and potatoes can be left in the ground to be harvested as needed. They can be covered with a 10” thick layer of straw mulch to keep the soil temperatures even. The straw can be pushed aside to harvest and then the beds recovered.
Niki Jabbour, among others, goes beyond extending the season to gardening year round. In fact, she has a book out, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, where she talks about her favorite crops and varieties and how she extends the season to allow her to harvest vegetables 365 days a year, without a greenhouse, in Nova Scotia! If she can do it in Canada, we should be able to do it here. Of course, some gardeners may prefer to take a bit of a break for the winter and be fresh for the next gardening season.