It IS possible to grow your own food year round, no matter where you live.
Well known local gardening expert Niki Jabbour is excited to provide her hands-on knowledge of the subject to beginners and seasoned gardeners alike in her first book, ‘The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.’ Available online via Amazon and Chapters on Jan. 14, it hits local bookshelves early next month.
Attesting to the success of her endeavour, the cover shot featuring Jabbour kneeling in snow covered ground in front of a wealth of green produce was snapped on Jan. 15.
“This book has all the basic information if you have never gardened before, but also has new ideas, fun tips and interesting vegetables and ways to grow them in our climate even if you’ve been growing for years,” Jabbour said.
The book provides instructions for growing throughout all four seasons, outlining how to plan, prepare, and harvest your own food even in the bleak midwinter. Readers also learn what vegetables and herbs can be successfully worked into a year round garden, and when specific crops should be planted.
This isn’t just about carrots and cabbage. Kale, mache, melons, pak choi, leeks, tatsoi and kohlrabi are just some of the other crops covered in her book.
“It’s nothing new, growing your own food all year long no matter where you live,” she said. “Even in China hundreds and hundreds of years ago they did it. It’s not new technology, but we have forgotten how to grow food.”
But people’s desire to grow local food has significantly increased in the last four or five years. Jabbour said she was invited to lecture on gardening 42 times last year. Of those requests, 40 were about vegetable gardening.
“This is the biggest gardening trend in decades. People want to grow things like heirloom tomatoes, baby eggplant, herbs, arugula, salad greens. Also with the economic situation, people want to turn to growing their own,” Jabbour said.
“Years ago it used to be people were often retired before they started gardening, but now, especially with edibles, people in their twenties and thirties with kids want to grow food and teach their kids to grow food.”
Jabbour herself accidentally stumbled upon the thrill of year round vegetable gardening several years ago when she spied arugula growing in her garden in late November.
“I picked some for supper. We had snow that night and I figured it was done. I went to the garden and there it was poking out of the snow,” she said. “I threw a piece of fabric over it and we harvested until Christmas.”
The technology needed to help harvest throughout the year is deceptively simple. Jabbour said easy-to-make cold frames, basic row covers and cloches all help extend the growing season of local crops.
“With a winter garden you don’t have to water or weed, you don’t have to worry about deer, slugs, and there’s really no work. You basically harvest five months of the year,” she said. “As things come out you put more seed in. It will lie dormant until the conditions are right. It’s very easy.”
Published by Storey Publishing, ‘The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener’ is being sold across North American, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.