Save money and eat better by growing fresh fruits and vegetables year-round in your home garden, even if you live in the north! Fresh produce naturally tastes better than produce that was picked before it was ripe and shipped hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to your local grocery store. Fresh produce also has a higher nutritional value.
If you grow your own food, there is no need to worry about natural or man-made disasters that may prevent your local grocery store shelves from being stocked, nor do you need to wonder what chemicals or preservatives were sprayed on your produce.
Follow these 5 easy steps to start growing your own produce year-round now!
1.) The first step is select a sunny area of your yard to garden in. An area close to your home will make it easier for you to get to your fresh produce during the winter months, especially in the event of heavy snow fall.
2.) Prepare the ground by removing all the weeds, turning the soil and amending it with compost. Turn the soil by hand two to three times, digging to a depth of 24 inches, if possible. Be sure to allow the soil to rest in between turnings so the weed seed on top has a chance to germinate. It is best to get as much weed seed out now as possible. Be aware that many weed seeds can germinate after lying dormant for 7 years!
3.) Plant cool crops in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Examples of these crops include lettuce, salad mixtures, endive, Swiss chard, kale, potatoes, carrots, spinach, turnips, broccoli and onions. There are many other varieties of vegetables that will thrive under cool conditions. The best way to know what works well in your area is through trial and error.
4.) Cover the seeds, or young plants, with a cold frame to protect them. A cold frame is nothing more than a box like structure with a clear glass or plastic top that allows light into the plants. The sides can be made of glass, plastic, wood, straw or a variety of other building materials.
5.) Cold frames are also useful for planting out warm weather crops a month (or more) before the last frost in your area. Many plants will survive in cooler temperatures as long as they are protected from frost. Use them again in the fall to protect cool weather crops that were sown in late summer so you can harvest fresh vegetables all winter long.
If you want to know more about year-round gardening, The Cosmplete Idiot’s Guide to Year-Round Gardening, is a great book that covers all aspects of gardening indoors and out, all year long.