Happy Holidays everyone, and welcome to the first day of winter. Do you celebrate the arrival of each new season? Rooted in the earth as I am through my work, I thoroughly enjoy honoring nature's-own 'holidays'. Last night I co-hosted a small winter solstice celebration; complete with homemade tapas and earthy cocktails. And with our multi-generational group gathered round a buffet of fresh food and drink, the topic eventually turned to growing-your-own produce ---both seasonally and year-round in greenhouses--- and of course debates about the most economical and attractive ways to go about this. Everyone seems to be talking about gardening these days, even as we celebrate the first day of winter!
As an avid vegetable gardener and winter gardening enthusiast ---and voracious reader, of course--- I had opinions to offer and books to recommend to my friends. Having just recently devoured ---and thoroughly enjoyed--- Rosalind Creasy's beautiful new book Edible Landscaping, it immediately came to mind. Many homeowners are interested in growing their own produce, but they're also concerned about aesthetics. Will the vegetable garden be attractive, will it fit in with the look of my house? These are the kinds of questions that require more than do-it-yourself vegetable growing manuals. Unlike many back-yard gardening books, Creasy's Edible Landscaping excels in addressing the practicalities of garden design. From tiny, backyard potagers to larger, dream gardens, Edible Landscaping offers beautiful examples, realistic ideas, and helpful suggestions for how to best use your outdoor space.
And for edible garden enthusiasts interested in making the leap to year-round growing, I also have a few favorite resources to recommend. Eliot Coleman's books, Four Season Harvest and Winter Harvest Handbook, offer the best practical advice I've found, and they are an excellent place to begin your cold-season gardening research. I've been growing my own produce year-round in hoop-houses for several winters now, and as I move to expand my winter gardening activities here at home, I find that I reach for Coleman's books more and more. And in anticipation of making the move to more advanced winter-gardening, I just ordered a copy of Pat Price and Nora Richter Greer's Greenhouses and Garden Sheds to help me plan my next garden structure. It looks like a wonderful book!
I like to take advantage of the quiet season by reading up on topics I have little time to study in summer. And I encourage others to do the same. Not only do I have extra hours to research the latest advances in four-season growing right now, but I know that come February and March, focusing on these topics will help get me through the cold, late-winter doldrums.
Are your friends talking about the grow-your-own-goodness of backyard vegetable gardening?