It’s not possible to garden all year long—or is it? With some planning, you can come close! Here are the best ways to garden year-round for fresh produce.
Have a green thumb? Unless you live in a constantly pleasant climate, gardening all year long may seem like just a pleasant dream. But while you won’t be able to grow crops in the snow and ice, there are ways to extend your grow times, increase your yield, and even raise tomatoes (and more) in the wintertime! Here are the best ways to garden year-round for fresh produce.
Plant Cold-Weather Crops
All plants grow best in warm, sunny weather, but some are heartier and can be planted before the first frost or late in the season, sometimes in preparation for a winter harvest. As a matter of fact, for some plants, cold weather makes them taste better. Kale and collards can stand low temps and become sweeter as a result. Spinach needs a little protection through row covers but is another cold-weather survivor. Brussels sprouts, fava beans, and cabbages can overwinter with proper care, too.
Grow Easily Stored Vegetables
When you plant your garden, think of the future by planting hardy types of fruits and vegetables that will keep for weeks or even months when properly prepared and stored. Beans, when dried out, can last for a long time, delivering protein and other nutrients for soups, stews, and other meals even in the darkest winters. Potatoes will keep for months in a cool dry place, as will pumpkins, squash, onions, sweet potatoes, yams, apples, oranges, citrus fruits, and others. Carrots can be blanched and frozen, while beets will last up to three months with proper treatment. Enjoy fresh vegetables with a short shelf life during the summer, but plant a section of your garden that will keep giving you fresh produce throughout winter.
Obviously, building a greenhouse is a sure way to keep growing throughout the year, though the expense and room required to do so may put the kibosh on that plan. Still, you can cheaply shelter and protect your plants by building or buying mini-tunnels made from steel or PVC frames and row cover fabric. For another technique, strawbales can be set up around your garden and covered with a clear piece of polycarbonate or an old window you can lift to check on the plants.
One of the best ways to garden year-round for fresh produce is to set up a hydroponic garden indoors. You’ll find several types of hydroponics systems available for purchase, from wick-based, to ebb and flow, nutrient film, or even aeroponics. The simplest method is the wick-based system, which delivers nutrients to plants through an absorbent material like rope. AutoPot systems are even easier, delivering food and water using only the power of gravity. Hydroponics is a fun and rewarding hobby which can deliver fresh produce all year round. Tomatoes in January? Absolutely!