Year round gardening is possible for DIY food producers

Friday, March 15th, 2013 By

Garden

It is possible to have year-round gardening for grow-your-own food types. Photo Credit: Sri/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

It absolutely is possible to grow your own food by gardening and at that, to do year-round gardening to keep the supply going. Year-round gardening doesn’t even have to be that expensive, as one doesn’t necessarily need a state-of-the-art laboratory to do it.

Year-round gardening can let you grow your own food

There are a few reasons to grow your own food. Firstly, it can save money. Once one buys seed, soil and adds in the cost of watering, fertilizer, any pesticides one might use, adding up all the units of produce can, though not necessarily will, yield a lower price per unit than one would have paid buying store produce. The savings over time will pay for opportunity costs. Ostensibly, anyhow.

It also grants one control over one’s food supply. You pick what you grow and what you grow it in. Home-grown vegetables and fruits also, as the Harvard University Health website points out, are more nutrient dense; produce in stores has to be picked early for transport, ergo less rich in nutrients.

However, the problem is that harvesting isn’t year-round. If you don’t grow enough for a year-round supply, you’ll be heading to the store. That is, unless you practice year-round gardening. But what if you don’t have a greenhouse?

How to do that

One method of year-round gardening, which can also raise winter produce, according to Bloomberg, is to employ raised beds. Two beds, 96 inches long by 48 inches wide by 12 inches tall, will run $360 from Lowe’s, though one imagines they could be cobbled together for much less. Raised beds provide better drainage and allow even greater control over soil.

This also comes in handy for winter vegetables. Certain plants, such as carrots, spinach, beets, Swiss chard and parsnips, are very hardy and can take winter climates, so long as they aren’t smothered by precipitation. Less watering is required and less loss will be incurred by insects or ruminants such as deer or rabbits.

Another option is to “Jerry rig” a greenhouse of sorts by constructing hoop frames at intervals, covered with opaque plastic sheeting. Often called a “hoop house,” it retains heat, wards off precipitation and allows sunshine in and depending on the materials used – it’s dirt cheap.

Going native

If one lives in colder climates and has enough land to build it, an option for year-round gardening is to build a walipini. As Treehugger points out, it was a method employed by Native Americans to keep the growing going year-round. A walipini is basically a greenhouse dug into the earth, often into a hillside.

If a hillside isn’t available, one creates a burm of rammed earth – compacted dirt, clay and sand that’s been wetted and left to cure – and digs a rectangular pit into it, six feet deep at the end where the burm meets the level ground and eight feet deep at the burm’s apex. Simply build a greenhouse roof with plastic sheet sides and create a rudimentary seal. The roof should face the winter sun. Basically, it’s a barely above-ground greenhouse.

One will have to engineer drainage and soil, but heat will boost the thermal mass of the earth surrounding the structure, keeping it warm enough to grow and providing sunlight during the winter. All told, one can be built for a few hundred bucks.

Sources

Bloomberg

Treehugger

Harvard Health

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