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Winter Gardening Tips from Eliot Coleman

It may seem counterintuitive, but now is the perfect time to be thinking about gardening and planning for next winter’s harvest. How can you time your plantings this summer and fall so your broccoli and cabbage are big enough to survive the winter and get cranking as early as possible the following spring? What kinds of vegetables can you expect to last through the cold season, and into the ‘hungry gap’?

Eliot Coleman was one of the first authors we published, and his book The New Organic Grower helped set Chelsea Green on the path to becoming the leading publisher of books on sustainable agriculture.

Coleman runs Four Season Farm up in Harborside, Maine — a very chilly place to make a living growing salad. But that’s exactly what he does, and his two most recent books are full of information on how to keep tender, tasty veggies growing throughout the dark and cold of winter. Chances are, you live in a climate several hardiness zones more hospitable than Coleman, so we’re here to tell you that when it comes to growing fresh food year-round, sorry, you have no excuses! Or at least, with advice from this master-farmer, winter will no longer be one of them.

Coleman was by no means the first to implement the winter-gardening strategies he has helped make famous. In this excerpt from The Winter Harvest Handbook, he points to the inspiring example of Parisian farmers 150 years ago, who grew vegetables under glass cloches for city markets.

“La culture maraîchère (market gardening) in Paris during the second half of the nineteenth century was the impressive result of years of improvement in both protected and outdoor vegetable production…In addition to feeding the inhabitants of Paris, the growers also exported vegetables to England. Growers averaged at least four and usually up to eight harvests per year from the same piece of ground. It was a successful system both practically and economically.”

Read more about these enterprising French farmers here. And take a peek inside The Winter Harvest Handbook, here. All three of Coleman’s classic organic farming books are now available as a convenient set, which you can purchase in our bookstore.


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More