The longest growing season
We harvested continuously from April to December in 2022.
By Lisa Brunette
We’ve been gardening long enough to know that when nature hands you a win, you take it. After all, there’s a good amount of heartache involved in growing your own food, some of it coming as a result of your mistakes, and the rest you can chalk up to the vicissitudes of weather and other factors. Failure is just part of the equation.
So when I reflected on our efforts throughout 2022 and realized we’d been harvesting food from our garden from April clear through December, I decided that was something to note.
It seems rare these days that you can set a goal like that and then meet it in just a few years. When I learned that you could successfully garden in our zone 6b climate for three seasons—early spring, summer, and late fall—I had to see if we could pull it off. We didn’t quite make it in 2020 or 2021, but this time, we nailed it!
The first food out of the ground were baby greens culled from thinning the cabbage and arugula rows, which we ate in late April. The last we harvested on December 21, winter solstice: carrots and turnips.
How did we do it? By selecting seeds known to do well in our area, sowing them directly into the soil at the optimum time, and continuing to do that in succession as each crop was ready to harvest. The first seeds went into the ground in mid-March and the last in mid-August. Here’s a breakdown of each season.
Early Spring, or the ‘Cool’ Season
I’ve written previously about this season’s bumper crop of greens, as well as the reliable perennial vegetable asparagus and spring carrots. But what I haven’t mentioned yet is the perfection that is the pea.
If you’ve never tasted a fresh garden pea, you don’t know what you’re missing. We tried them in 2021 and were hooked on the shelling variety ‘Green Arrow’ dwarf English, so in the ground they went in 2022.
The ‘Golden Acre’ cabbage gave Anthony an excuse to break out the five-quart Amish sauerkraut crock I gifted him, and we enjoyed the great benefits of that fermented food.
We planted a gooseberry three years ago, harvested from it for the first time in 2021, and had a good crop this past June, mainly because we net them. We also added another bush, so hopefully that one will bear fruit soon. We harvested about nine pears, our first from a tree that I saved from blight, and our Arkansas black apple gave us two fruits.
Summer, or the ‘Warm’ Season
When you think of homegrown produce, it’s usually this season that comes to mind, with its bushels of zucchini and tomatoes. So it might surprise you to hear that it was our weakest.
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