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THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Growing Food Year-Round

One of the beauties of The Growing Challenge is that we are able to see what’s growing all around the world. This month it has been snowing in parts of Australia, at the same time temperatures reached 100F in the southwestern United States. And soon, our roles will switch. In a few months, we in the US and Europe will be looking longingly at Australia’s summer gardens….

But don’t despair – I have seen an awful lot of winter gardens still going in Australia. So I say it’s time for the rest of us to begin preparing for our own winter gardens!

Kate's Winter Greens

Winter Gardening Inspiration

It’s snowing at the Tin House (below), but Lisa’s wombok seems to be taking the cold ok. Also, funny enough her asparagus made a surprisingly early appearance!  Lisa is also growing spinach, carrots, lettuce, rocket, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, garlic, and onions.

Lisa's Wombok

Belinda is eating 1-2 meals straight from the garden each week. She’s harvesting broccoli and mini cauliflower, and awaiting brussels sprouts, broad beans (which just flowered), spinach, and a whole bunch of seedlings. Did I mention that it has been snowing there, too?

Belinda's Beautiful Cabbage

Belinda’s Beautiful Cabbage

Leanne is sick of her wet weather, but her broad beans are flowering beautifully, and her garlic and spinach have sprouted and are soon to be transplanted.

Leanne's Broad Beans

Leanne’s Broad Beans

Kate examines her square square foot gardening.  Check out the square foot below:  peas, coriander and leeks.  She’s also growing broad beans, chicory, fennel, broccoli, oregano, mizuna, kale, silver beets, lettuces, bok choy, garlic, and more.

Kate's Square Foot

Kate’s Square Foot


Julie is harvesting lemons.  She has also planted a bunch of new seeds in her growing rack.

Julie\'s Lemons

Julie’s Lemons


Naturewitch’s peach trees are flowering and magpies serenading, while she harvests potatoes for potato salad, along with herbs, baby beets, carrots, and lettuce.  She is also planting potatoes and has some great instructions for a no dig method.  And she shows off a beautiful olive tree given her by The Crone, plus her snow peas, broccoli, nasturtiums, jonquil, oats, and rhubarb.

Naturewitch's Broccoli

Naturewitch’s Broccoli

Kate F finds inspiration with a visit to a local permaculture farm and farmstand. Her photos are a good reminder that if the market is selling produce, chances are good that you can grow it at home!

At the Ceres Market

At the Market

If that is still not enough inspiration, Hannah is growing basil and lettuce under cloches, has beautiful peas and broad beans growing, and made this the other night:  a scrumptious quiche dinner made from food within 100 feet of the kitchen!

Hannah's Dinner

Hannah’s Dinner

Some Other Inspiration:

I know there are lots of you gardeners who are gardening year-round – please share your tricks, what grows well and how you make it grow, plus any links to posts on the subject!

The Growing Challenge

There are currently 160 people who are a part of this challenge. Please join us any time! Just head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all about.

Are You Planting a Four-Season Garden?

For those of us who are gardening year-round, what are you growing? What are your favorite books that delve into fall and winter gardening? And for those who aren’t gardening year-round, what keeps you from doing so? Also, have you posted about gardening this week? Then give us a link to your post!

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18 comments to THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Growing Food Year-Round

  • This is the post I’ve been waiting for! I’m looking to start a fall/winter garden this year and I need some advice! Anybody have some sugggstions for what will do well in New England (I’m zone 6/7, depending on which map you consult!).

    Here’s my post about gardening this week:

  • I just threw a big load of compost on the area the potatoes used to occupy. I am hoping to get another crop of green beans before putting in the real cold loving stuff like lettuce and spinach.

    The peas, leeks, and broccoli have already been started. I’m likely going to be putting up some plastic tunnels and trying to garden during the cold NY winter. If I can keep things going until april 30th 2009 I will have been gardening continuously for 1 full year!

  • Well, you inspired me to post my fall garden ideas and thoughts today. :)

    Here you go!!

  • I’m not a gardener, but I’d be curious to know if people have winter gardens in areas that have at least a foot of snow all winter long. I’d think that’d be pretty hard, but I really don’t know anything about gardening…

  • ABBIE & STEPHANIE, I’m planning on writing a more in-depth post about this in a little bit (so many posts, so little time!), but my number one suggestion is to get your hands and eyes on a copy of Eliot Coleman’s Four Season Harvest. Definitely inspiring. I believe he’s in a zone 4 and gardens year-round. Here is the website of he and his wife (both are gardeners, though I personally think Coleman’s books are better).

    KORY, Awesome! I remember when you started – it is amazing how much you’ve learned in such a short time. Me, too – I guess I’ve really only been gardening hard core for about a year and a couple of months now. Yeehaw! And your garden plans look great, by the way. Can’t wait to see what you put in for fall and winter.

    HEATHER, Ooh, Heather, you are dangerously close to joining The Growing Challenge! Come on, you know you want to! Great post, by the way. I’ve been wondering how to keep out the rain, too!

  • One thing I need to get done is install new windows on the south wall of the garage- Right now there are no windows, just a couple of sheets of fibreglass were the windows should be- When the windows are installed I can garden year round, and start my own seeds! I got the windows at 2nduse salvage whose profits support habitat for humanity here in Seattle

  • This week I blogged about modern victory gardens and how we need folks to start growing food,, no matter where they live- apartment, mobile home or house
    I also found a video and a recipe on making dandelion fritters
    And lessee, on my diy blog, I have found the instructions to making your own EarthTainers

  • It’s so hard to keep up with everything when you’ve got thousands of ideas in your head running around, isn’t it? Thanks for the link! I’ll put that in my book recommendations list so that I don’t lose it, and in case I decide to live somewhere cold when I graduate college, I’ll have some resources for trying a winter garden.

  • So I have to start 2 new things from seed for the challenge, correct?
    I’ve grown so many things over the years that I am not sure what I can come up with for fall.

    I have not grown Mache or Arugula. Both of which would do well around here for fall.

    Do new varieties of the same things I have grown before count (ie if I have grown broccoli, but never purple broccoli does that count)?

  • monica

    I think that gardening in any climate is becoming easier–we can control temperature and humidity. I remember when EVERYONE had at least a small part of their yard dedicated to a garden–but activities and work make tending it next to impossible. We owe it to ourselves to provide an abundance of food that is good nutritional quality. Until fuel prices and the economy stabilizes, I think that more people are going to turn back to growing their own food.

    In our area, every 3 or 4 years, someone gets arrested for growing pot in their house: If they can make it profitable and risk a criminal record–I think we can grow enough to make a salad a few times a week!

    I planted a bunch of pots in the house, (lettuce, carrots, red beets, scallions). I think I need to improve the lighting, because all of them look like there is a long stem topped with the first leaves and nothing else. We are in zone 6 (Ohio). Our indoor garden will include many of those that we are comfortable growing outdoors (and I still have some leftover from spring!) If this experiment progresses well–we will continue next year, which will give us enough room to plant corn. Our first year here we planted corn and it was not a pretty sight. I have learned a ton about gardening and rotation so I think our soil is much improved from the clay pot soil we started with 7 years ago.

    No Soylent Green for me! (for you teenie bops: The world is in a mass starvation predicament–their solution is to recycle dead people into crackers, but it has to remain a secret)

  • How funny to see my dinner on someone elses blog. Thanks melinda for including it. We didn’t get snow – I’m jealous of my fellow Aussies!

  • Great post! Usually by August I’m sick of the garden – we have so much heat and humidity in KY. But you’ve inspired me to start a fall garden. Thanks!

  • I have all the seeds now that I need to plant my fall garden–and am planning to spend this cool day getting dirty. Yippee!

    Yesterday, Son and I harvested some of our gorgeously-colored corn for fall cornmeal, as well as a few dry beans that came off in our hands as we paddled through our three-sisters garden. All very exciting. I’ll try to put up a post with pictures soon!

  • I am planting a four season garden but I live in California so it’s kind of like cheating. Right now, I’m planting lettuce, peas, greens, carrots, radishes, beets and potatoes. I’ve got to get some broccoli going too. We loved that last year. Just harvested the first of our winter squash as all the vines have been struck with powdery mildew. The one I harvested yesterday is the size of my 3 year old. No joke.

  • Oh Good Gravy,

    Just heard last night that we are forecast for more snow this weekend… and it was 3C again this morning.

    Winter is going out with a bang not a whimper thats for sure.

    Kind Regards


  • We have planted our fall/winter garden. Lots of greens for me – kale, collards, spinach, chard plus some broccoli, peas, beans. We also grow some stuff indoors and sprouts, wheatgrass, too.

    I love the Eliot Coleman 4 season harvest book and a rootcellaring book we have that the Bubel’s wrote is helpful, too.

  • Here are some pictures of our beautiful dried corn and dried beans:

    Thanks for inspiring us to plant them way back in the spring!

  • To my shame, the Aussies with the snow have outdone me this winter. I haven’t had snow (only a few light frosts) but almost everything was eaten by snails and other creatures or just failed to thrive. The broad beans are looking good, I’m looking forward to having something substantial out of the garden again after months of just herbs. We have garlic growing too, but I didn’t plant it or care for it, so I can’t take the credit.

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