BOOK REVIEW: The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener

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Eventually, I returned my library book and purchased my own copy (according to Goodreads, I’m not the only person to do this) because The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour continues to be a main reference when I plan my seasons every year.

Having started my food-growing career in Mattawa and Thunder Bay, I am often skeptical of claims made by books and resources from outside of Canada (with the exception of Eliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook).  Even books from Southern Ontario rarely deal with the realities of Thunder Bay’s short season, short days and long, sunny winters.  Niki’s unique experience growing in Halifax was very transferable to the northern regions where I started Garddwest, and continue to be relevant here in Hamilton.  As another Goodreads reviewer mentioned, “when a book is written from the region you live, it has a lot more credibility than when a Floridian tells you what’s possible in Canada” and I can’t agree more.

Eliot Coleman’s Winter Harvest Handbook is a rigorous and scientifically thorough manual, the go-to reference on this subject, but Niki’s Year-Round Vegetable Gardener is possibly a better fit for a beginner-intermediate winter gardener getting started at home or in a community setting.

Niki touches on the basics of timing, temperature and light needs, providing background for her more practical instructional content.  One area where Niki does dig deeper is soil sciences – suggesting sustainable methods including cover crops, crop rotation, organic fertilizers and building a healthy soil profile.  A section on intensive farming in small spaces directly addresses small scale urban agriculture and backyard farmers.  With tips and tricks for growing, plus concrete blueprints for building cold frames and tunnels, this book has all the information required to get started with Cool Season Gardening.

The Year-Round Vegetable GardenerThe Year-Round Vegetable Gardener
by Niki Jabbour

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Read my review on Goodreads

View all my Goodreads reviews

PLANT LIST: Cool Season Crops

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GARDDWEST’s Recommended Cool Season Crops:

  • BEETS
  • BROAD BEANS
  • BROCCOLI
  • CABBAGE
  • CAULIFLOWER
  • KALE (CURLY)
  • KALE (RUSSIAN)
  • KALE (LACINATO)
  • KOHLRABI
  • LEAFY GREENS (MIXED)
  • LEEKS
  • ONIONS
  • PAK CHOI
  • PEAS
  • RADISHES
  • SWISS CHARD (WHITE)
  • SWISS CHARD (RAINBOW)

FEATURE: Cool Season Edible Gardens

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What is cool season gardening?

There is a whole category of vegetables and edibles happiest in cooler temperatures, including many that can handle a light frost or even dusting of snow!  Here in Southern Ontario, that means seeding and planting in August, for harvest beginning September and usually lasting into November.  Cold frames, cloches, mulches and row covers with insulating fleece frost blankets can also extend this cool season right up until winter sets in.

Cool season gardening is defined more by temperature than date.  In our climate zone, cool season crops grow best when the air temperatures average around 20°C, and soil is 10°C – 20°C in the root zone, 12-15 cm beneath the surface of the soil.  Below 10°C, nutrient absorption slows and mycorrhizal fungi are less active.  Using a soil probe to monitor the temperature in a few areas of your garden can be beneficial as different pockets of soil will warm and cool at varying rates.  Finding a location in your garden that stays fairly consistent can be as important as finding the right soil temperature.

REFERENCES:
When To Plant In Ontario
When To Start Sowing Cool Season Crops
Filling Out Your Fall Garden
Working With Frost Dates
Cool Weather Crops