Top 5 Organic Gardening Books
Hubpages.com - February 28, 2011
Organic gardening books are not new but they are making there presence felt in book shops up and down the country at the moment. Organic gardening books have had a revival, they have been dusted down, rewritten and made ready for the 21st century yuppie to read and digest. Going organic has never been more popular but having organic gardening books there to help and assist you has become big business.
I have written a few articles recently about organic gardening and each one has raised questions or comments from readers who need more help or information on how to either start organic gardening or how to deal with specific issues that they have come across. Generally people are fed up with reading almost daily in newspapers, that this crop has been sprayed 25 times with pesticides or the food their buying in the supermarket has been grown in South America, irradiated, frozen and flown over to be displayed with a 3 day shelf life.
People are looking for alternative ways to feed their families, most people aren't used to growing vegetables or even digging a plot of land. Family gardens over the last 25 years have been turned into the extra living room space we were told we needed with brick bbq's, fountains or gazebos to tower over the neighbors fence. We had an economy where money was plentiful and to ask someone to start growing salad onions or zuchini would have left you red faced and shown the door.
However in 2011 thanks to the bankers there are some families now struggling or juggling their household disposable income to try and make ends meet. An array of Sunday newspapers and magazine articles have sprung up saying how easy it is to turn your rear garden into an oasis of rich fruit and home grown vegetables. It is however not that easy, it takes time, commitment and a fair bit of skill. If you intend turning your garden into an organic gardening mecca then it takes even more time and above all a lot of patience. Most people are frustrated or impatient and throw themselves into it without really knowing what they are doing and then normally give up after a couple of months trying.
This article has been written with those people in mind, to try and help them find the answers they are looking for. I have done a review of the top 5 organic gardening books where specific help and encouragement can be found. I hope you don't give up, try gaining some knowledge from any of these organic gardening books and building on it slowly and the results will come.
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses.
This is truly a very good book. Most organic growers stop when the first signs of winter arrive, they empty the raised beds and pull up any unwanted vegetables in readiness for next year. What this book is about is extending your growing season without heated greenhouses. Just imagine growing winter vegetables for the stew pot or your next casserole, with the help of some great ideas, tips and easy reading you can have all that and more.
Producing food for the family in winter needs careful planning and the author of this book has plenty of ideas to create great home grown food even in cold climates. Recognized widely as an expert in advanced growing techniques, the author takes you effortlessly through your first winter season with minimal hot green houses and takes you through weeding problems, making the most of your land, problem solving and so much more. This book is highly recommended and is a must for any gardener wanting to better themselves and extend the growing season.
Read the original review.
January 7, 2011 - Green Bandwagon Blog
I just finished reading my first Eliot Coleman booked and am hooked on the thought of growing in all 4-seasons. See http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/
Eliot Coleman (1938-) is an American farmer, author, agricultural researcher and educator, and a proponent of organic farming. His 1989 book, The New Organic Grower, is considered must-reading for organic farmers and market gardeners. He served for two years as Executive Director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and was an advisor to the US Department of Agriculture during their 1979-80 study, Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming, a document that formed the basis for today’s legislatedNational Organic Program (2002) in the U.S..
Coleman is well-known for his development of cold-weather growing techniques. On his Four Season Farm in Harborside (Brooksville), Maine, he produces year-round vegetable cropsunder harsh winter conditions, using unheated and minimally heated greenhouse structures.
In his writing, Coleman promotes small-scale organic farming practices and sustainable agriculture. One of his central principles is “small is better,” advocating business growth through improved production and marketing, rather than physical expansion. He also favors direct relationships with customers—”know your farmer”—over formal organic certification.
Coleman is married to gardening author Barbara Damrosch. For several years, from 1993, they co-hosted the TV series, Gardening Naturally, on The Learning Channel. Coleman and his wife continue to grow and locally market fresh produce.
Read the original review.
Book Review: Eliot Coleman’s Handbook
Suburban Hobby Farmer blog
In the depths of winter, there may be no better “read” for an enthusiastic backyard gardener than a book about year-round vegetable production, and The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman is the king of books on year-round vegetable growing.
Coleman is the master of “using deep-organic techniques and unheated greenhouses for year-round vegetable production.” He surprises the reader by showing how to grow vegetables, or at least extend the harvest season, with no external heat source during Maine’s cold winters. Most gardening enthusiasts will read the cover and want to know: How does he do that?
Maybe the most astounding point in the Handbook is that you can magically transport your garden 500 miles, or three USDA zones, to the south by adding a hoop house and row covers.
Read the entire article here.
Four Seasons Organic Farming Provides some Chilly Lessons
Clarion-Ledger - December 17, 2010
A pioneer in the field, Eliot Coleman, writes in his book, The Winter Harvest Handbook (Chelsea Green, 2009; $29.95 - an excellent book by the way, and a great Christmas present!), that the greatest challenge to cold-weather gardeners is shorter days, not temperature.
He should know, as he and his wife grow year round at their Four Season Farm in Maine. (So, you think growing in Mississippi in winter is a challenge?)
He says, a plant that normally takes 90 days to grow to maturity in May-June will take 120 days in the cold months. Hence, the need to plant cold-hardy plants in fall, so they have good root systems. They may slow down when there's less than 10 hours of sunlight a day, but will continue to produce down to 26 degrees uncovered and even lower under Agribon, and/or in an unheated greenhouse.
Read the original review over at Clarion Ledger.
The Winter Harvest Handbook
Eat Drink Better - November 30, 2010
There is something magic about September. For a brief two weeks, all of summer’s bounty meets the first of fall’s crops in one big harvest celebration at my farmer’s market. These are the market days when my poor little basket is overflowing and I struggle to manage it, and the two heavy winter squashes tucked in my arms.
The next thing I know, it’s November. The market is closed. A couple luscious weeks of fall CSA gathering, then, gone. Pumpkins and sweet potatoes are all that is left. While I love orange foods, I am hopelessly spoiled by the variety once easily available.
What’s a locavore to do in the bleak winter? Besides raid the freezer for the last of the pesto and soups and frozen berries?
Turns out, there are a few ways to beat the barren winter and eat well.
Whether it is a few pots of herbs or lettuces on a southern exposure window sill or a full-fledged hydroponic “window farm,” you can see green in January. The Window Farms site also offers a community so you can network with other “window farmers” as you learn to grow your own. You can also build your own window farm hydroponic system from recycled plastic bottles!
If you are lucky to live in a Mid-western or more southern climate, hoop houses or high tunnels can extend the growing season easily by a month on either side. Many farms now offer fall or even winter CSAs and early spring plant sales and produce! Look for these farms at Local Harvest, using “winter” in the keywords, or ask the farmers you know in your area if anyone is using a high tunnel.
Start a Movement
Consumer demand is a great way to create access to goods and services. Try talking to the farmers you know in your area to see if they have interest in high tunnels, or even year-round production. You could even wrap up a copy of Eliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook for your favorite farmer’s Christmas stocking. Coleman’s advice covers all the important facets of year-round production — without a heated greenhouse using minimal energy inputs. He lives in Maine, so I am guessing he’s familiar with long winters and bitter cold. The guide is also available as a DVD, but your farmer might prefer you wrap the gift in a good pair of long underwear if you are expecting fresh greens in a cold February.
In the meantime, as you are waiting to start your window garden, well, there’s always pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin soup, roast pumpkin …
Beth Bader is co-author of the new book, The Cleaner Plate Club: Recipes and Advice for Getting Real Kids to Love Real Food. You can find her hanging out, barefoot, wine in hand, in her kitchen.
Read the original review at Eat Drink Better.
Extend Your Survival Gardening with the Winter Harvest Handbook
Destiny Survival blog - November 29, 2010
The thoroughly dedicated survival gardener does his or her best to grow edibles throughout the winter. Eliot Coleman paves the way with The Winter Harvest Handbook. It’s this week’s DestinySurvival Amazon Pick of the Week and has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.
What if you could grow carrots, radishes, beets and more in the cold months of the year? You’ve got to hand it to the man who can grow lettuce in Maine in January.
Coleman’s book is a Bible for small farmers and gardeners who can make use of a greenhouse or other cold weather season extenders without using much energy in the process. Plus, he believes in sustainable farming and promotes organic methods.
Coleman says attention to detail is key. He provides plenty of his own in chapters that cover the yearly schedule, greenhouse design, weed control, marketing, and more. His techniques are practical and proven, which has earned him a devoted following.
When it comes to growing crops over winter, why reinvent the wheel yourself? Coleman has researched and experimented with 30 different root crops and greens, making The Winter Harvest handbook valuable for homesteaders, market gardeners and survival gardeners.
For successful winter gardening, you need cold hardy vegetables, succession planting and protected cultivation. Plants need shelter from winter winds. You’ll be glad to know you don’t need fancy lighting systems for growing outdoors.
The full title of the book is The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses, by Eliot Coleman. Get your copy by clicking on the image of the book below. The Amazon.com page featuring the book will appear, and you can order from there by adding it to your cart.
Granted, you may not be able to grow tomatoes over winter outdoors, but you can have plenty of lettuce, spinach, onions, and more when you follow Eliot Coleman’s guidance from The Winter Harvest Handbook. Get a copy today for yourself or buy one to pass along to another survival gardener.
Read the original review at Destiny Survival.com.
The Cold Weather Garden
Grit.com - November 22, 2010
By Oz Girl
My grandiose fall garden plans - lettuce, green onions, pickling cukes and radishes - never materialized. I can only blame the time bandit. Before I knew it, October was upon us, and I had not planted any fall veggies. Coincidentally, I had just ordered Eliot Coleman's "The Winter Harvest Handbook" from Amazon. As I read through each chapter, I became more and more intrigued by this concept of continuing the harvest through the winter months. If Eliot can do it in Maine, then I could certainly do it here on the Kansas/Oklahoma border!!
As a side note: this is an excellent book, rated 5 stars by 37 reviewers on Amazon thus far and soon to be given high marks by me also. I found the history of cold weather gardening to be fascinating, as narrated by Eliot, proving that nothing is new under the sun.
And so I ordered a row tunnel cover from Burpee's website and planted a short row of spinach on October 3. This would be my initial foray into cool weather gardening, and so a short row would be my experiment. Spinach is one of the top cold-hardy vegetables. As such, it will actually prefer our cool fall and winter weather to the stifling hot weather we have in the summertime. Like a nervous mother hen, I checked on my babies every single day, uncovering them to soak up the sun during the day, and lowering the cover at night to protect them from the cold. As our nights began to dip into the 30s, I draped towels over the row cover for even better insulation.
Harvest was estimated for day 42, and yet I began clipping baby leaves for salads at the 3 week mark. As of November 20, the spinach is still doing remarkably well, even though we've had several nights in the 20s now. Quite honestly, I haven't even put the towels on the row cover at night, and the spinach is still doing remarkably good!
I'll continue to keep it covered, watered and nurtured as long as it continues to grow. And I'll count this experiment a success and plant even more fall veggies next year.
When I look at the bigger picture and my dreams...I would love to have a coldhouse (or two!) similar to what Eliot has in Maine, and supply our local community with fresh greens and root vegetables throughout the cooler months of the year, when fresh, local veggies are in short supply. Someday!
Read the original article on Grit.com.
Mother Earth News
The Winter Harvest Handbook
Learn successful winter gardening techniques that can be applied almost anywhere in the United States.
By George DeVault
Gardening in winter is possible anywhere using deep organic techniques and unheated greenhouses, according to gardening expert Eliot Coleman. His latest book, The Winter Harvest Handbook, is packed with practical — and profitable — advice on growing organic vegetables in winter.
Though Coleman has been gardening year round in coastal Maine (Zone 5) for 15 years, he doesn’t claim to have all the answers. But The Winter Harvest Handbook does contain three guiding principles that have helped him gross $80,000 per acre annually and will assure you success as well, no matter where you live:
1. Plant Cold-Hardy Vegetables. Crops such as spinach and lettuce, Coleman says, “actually thrive and are sweeter, tenderer and more flavorful” in cold weather.
2. Implement Succession Planting. Coleman begins planting winter garden crops on Aug. 1, the start of what he calls the “second spring.”
3. Protect Your Plants. Grow under some kind of cover, be it a low tunnel, row covers or a hoop house.
“In my opinion”, DeVault writes, “The Winter Harvest Handbook is absolutely the best of the three books Coleman has written. It belongs in every homestead library.”
Read the full article at Mother Earth News.
Go deep, organic!
Coleman’s elegant year-round vegetable production blueprint
The June National Geographic features a story The End of Plenty which starts off saying that even though humans produced a record amount of grain last year, we still had to dip into stockpiles from past years to feed ourselves. Sobering stuff. But then for solutions it goes deep on the same tired green revolution song and dance, and notes GMOs and the Malawi Miracle (hybrid seeds and a bag of fertilizer for every farmer) as points of hope. But at least it notes all the ways Borlaug’s theory has failed and gives time later in the piece to Vandana Shiva and an alternative project in Malawi that’s producing great yields while improving soil with classic organic methods.
Echoing this latter wisdom is the new book from Eliot Coleman, The Winter Harvest Handbook. One of the original American organic farmers lays out his system for producing vegetables year-round, even in northern climes, using super-sustainable ‘deep organic’ methods.
Key to his system are movable unheated greenhouses, plastic covered frames 22 by 48 feet on tracks that are parked over crops as needed. For example in the fall he’ll leave the house over tomato plants to extend their season into November or later, and then slide it down to the next area on the track that has leeks and greens already growing, allowing them to thrive through the winter.
Read the whole article here.
Tumbledown Farmer's Blog
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses, by Eliot Coleman, with Photographs and Illustrations by Barbara Damrosch, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2009.
Eliot Coleman has a new book out and it is a measure of his popularity with readers of all stripes that I had to wait from April to June on the waiting list at the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library(IMCPL) to receive a copy, and then promptly had the book recalled as soon as I got it home. I'll get back on the list as soon as I return the book, and eventually I'll spring for the cost of ownership. This book represents a significant advance in some of the production aspects over other books by Coleman, even those others from Chelsea Green. Especially delightful are the full-color photos of Coleman's garden operation. As we have come to expect, Coleman brings the same care and craft to writing that he so obviously brings to growing beautiful, healthy vegetables. For those who already own The New Organic Grower's Four-Season Harvest (1992, 2002) or Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long (1992, 1999) or The Winter Harvest Manual or The New Organic Grower (revised edition, 1995; see the previous blog entry), there will be much that is familiar here, but as Coleman points out, there has also been an evolution in his methods as he constantly seeks improvement. Those who own his other books will want the updates provided here. There are new varieties of vegetables, new techniques for gardening and building greenhouses, new tools and new resources.
The thing that fascinates me most about Coleman is that we have here a practitioner who is also very much historically aware and steeped in the literature of his craft. I would read and buy his books for their historical summaries (so aptly labeled "historical inspiration") and bibliographies (especially the annotated "historical reading list") alone, as much as for the lists of tried and true vegetable varieties and gardening techniques. Every last page has both instruction and inspiration.
I am not ready (yet) to launch a full-time operation, so some of what Coleman provides is beyond my ability to incorporate. For example, I can admire his greenhouse design, but I'm more likely to implement his "quick hoops" (maybe even this fall). His lists of succession planting dates and the yearly schedule are quite helpful in a suggestive way for those who would like to "go and do likewise." (And who wouldn't...like to go and do likewise?) And his gentle presentation of the more philosophical aspects of what he calls "deep-organic" gardening (a combination of local, sustainable, etc.) is winsome. Unlike many of the strident voices we hear today, Eliot Coleman's voice is one of experience tempered by the Maine winters. He knows whereof he speaks and he lets it permeate his writing. Thanks, Mr. Coleman, for sharing your gift with us.
Book Review: The Winter Harvest Handbook
by Elizabeth Barrette on April 21, 2009
Earth Day and Arbor Day are coming up. So I’ve been reading some books about gardening and climate change and related issues, courtesy of Chelsea Green. The following book explains how to grow organic vegetables year-round in unheated or minimally heated greenhouses.
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses by Eliot Coleman. Chelsea Green, 2009. Full-color trade paperback, 247 pages. ISBN: 978-1-60358-081-6. Five stars.
Most people think of gardening as a warm-season activity. They may also know of greenhouses as the “hothouses” used to grow tomatoes or strawberries in the winter. There are other options, however, and this book provides comprehensive and detailed instructions for those alternatives. I was surprised and impressed by how much can be done with how little.
First, Eliot Coleman introduces basic concepts: coldhouses (unheated greenhouses) and coolhouses (minimally heated greenhouses kept just above freezing); deep-organic farming; cold-hardy vegetables, succession planting, and protected cultivation; mobile greenhouses and movable row covers. These are the tools, techniques, and principles that underlie everything else.
Next, Coleman provides historic background from the French market gardens during the second half of the nineteenth century. This includes a look at the tools and techniques they used, and how those have been rediscovered or improved upon by contemporary growers. Much of this information had languished forgotten for years, until recently.
Then come detailed explorations of individual aspects of year-round gardening: how to get started, the yearly schedule, sunlight, coldhouses, and coolhouses. It’s fascinating to read about what factors really influence plant development and how; the available light seems to be more important than temperature in many cases. Winter crops, summer crops, and greenhouse design delve into the specific plants and structures most useful for this type of gardening. By choosing the right species and cultivars, and giving them basic protection from harsh weather, it’s possible to harvest year-round without requiring high-tech expensive greenhouses or costly heating. That information could be absolutely vital if the world goes in a direction that threatens food production and distribution.
Later chapters deal with specific techniques and processes of year-round cropping: soil preparation, sowing, weed control, winter harvesting, marketing, pests, diseases, etc. Finally there are discussions of tools useful in small-scale farming and the role of deep-organic principles on a small farm. Much is written down here that usually goes unspoken, like the idea that the best tool for the job may not be the same for two different people – you have to figure out what works for you and use that. Another excellent point is that soil feeds plants and plants feed people; deep-organic farming involves making the best soil possible, thus minimizing the need for pest/disease control and maximizing the flavor and nutrition of the crops.
The extensive resource section includes appendices on climate, temperature, tools, seeds, and sowing dates. There is also an annotated bibliography. The index is pretty good too.
On an aesthetic and philosophical level, this book also holds up well. It’s printed on chlorine-free recycled paper using soy-based inks, illustrated with many beautiful full-color photographs. The author’s voice is engaging and entertaining as well as informative.
There are thousands of gardening books on the shelves, but some of them stand out by virtue of doing something different. The Winter Harvest Handbook does this with precision and insight. First, it takes gardening into a new realm that few other books have explored. Second, it shows an intense and methodical examination of the many aspects of winter garden, in enough detail to give readers a high chance of duplicating the effects. The author has meticulously tested and recorded results for many types of plants and techniques, summarized into recommendations. He has also investigated as many aspects of winter gardening as possible, minimizing the chance of unexpected issues popping up. Third, this book treats its topic as a process to be shared, not a secret to be guarded. It vigorously encourages readers to try whichever of the ideas appeal to them – and then share their experiences with other people so as to advance the field.
The Winter Harvest Handbook chronicles the use of its techniques on a small commercial farm growing produce for sale to local restaurants and retailers. That makes it a treasure for anyone in small-scale organic agriculture. However, the concise focus also means these tools, techniques, and principles adapt fluently to homestead use. Movable row covers alone can expand the growing season in a small garden; a large family garden could incorporate an inexpensive movable coolhouse and gain even more use of the same space. So the book has very wide appeal for gardeners and farmers. Most highly recommended.
April 1, 2009
Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable living trend thats taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with The New Organic Grower published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.
Now, with his long-awaited new book, The Winter Harvest Handbook, anyone can have access to his hard-won experience. Gardeners and farmers can use the innovative, highly successful methods Coleman describes in this comprehensive handbook to raise crops throughout the coldest of winters.
Building on the techniques that hundreds of thousands of farmers and gardeners adopted from The New Organic Grower and Four-Season Harvest, this new book focuses on growing produce of unparalleled freshness and quality in customized unheated or, in some cases, minimally heated, movable plastic greenhouses.
Coleman offers clear, concise details on greenhouse construction and maintenance, planting schedules, crop management, harvesting practices, and even marketing methods in this complete, meticulous, and illustrated guide. Readers have access to all the techniques that have proven to produce higher-quality crops on Colemans own farm.
His painstaking research and experimentation with more than 30 different crops will be valuable to small farmers, homesteaders, and experienced home gardeners who seek to expand their production seasons.
A passionate advocate for the revival of small-scale sustainable farming, Coleman provides a practical model for supplying fresh, locally grown produce during the winter season, even in climates where conventional wisdom says it just cant be done.
The Next Mini-Trend: Growing Your Own Food
By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 2/17/2009 6:00:00 AM
For the serious gardener who knows the meaning of succession planting and protected cultivation
The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses by Eliot Coleman (Chelsea Green, Apr.)
Eliot, an experienced organic farmer with deep knowledge of field vegetables and greenhouse vegetables, describes the crops, tools, planting schedules and techniques he uses to manage his four-season farming operation.