This past Sunday, the New York Times reviewed “the incomparable” Eliot Coleman ‘s new book, The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses , as part of their Summer Reading recommendations.
If it seems a little incongruous to be talking about a winter gardening book in summer, you’d be right—if that was all there was to master organic gardener Eliot Coleman’s book. Once you dig in, you’ll see that winter is just the beginning.
From the New York Times Sunday Book Review :
This spring a young man’s — and woman’s — fancy should turn to vegetables. Judging by the new batch of garden books, we’re creeping into a back-to-the-land movement, rather like what happened in the 1970s but without the macramé. Yet — we’ll soon be making plant holders. Again. This being America, we’ve also found a way to cultivate that competitive edge. What the wine cellar was to the ’90s, the root cellar will be to this decade. Same concept, come to think of it: Climate control. Rotation. Status. Expense. By the time you read this, of course, serious gardeners will have sown their oats and tomatoes, but determined neophytes can still catch up.
When does gardening become farming? When are you no longer having dinner parties and running a restaurant instead? For those who are ready to graduate beyond coffee-can retail, the incomparable Eliot Coleman is back with THE WINTER HARVEST HANDBOOK: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses (Chelsea Green, paper, $29.95). I’m not one to quibble over the details of a “T-post anchor and homemade attaching bracket for securing the corners of a new rolling greenhouse design.” Suffice it to say that this serious, meticulous, inspiring farmer and writer solves the problem of growing lettuce in Maine — in January. Anyone living near Coleman’s Four Season Farm is thrice blessed — 1) to live in intense denial of the back-breaking effort he or she is 2) being spared in order to acquire what is surely 3) the tastiest, most wholesome and pure food available. Coleman’s opus is as much a call to action for town planners to embrace local farms as it is a bible for small farmers. This book is for people who know what they’re doing.