It's November, almost all vegetables have been harvested, all leaves have been blown off the
trees and we think that the growing season is over. It might feel like a relief for some, because there's one thing less to take care of. But for many people it feels like a loss. Now the time will come that we'll have to spend most of our days inside, most garden plants die or at least lay dormant for the winter and our happy place outdoors rests under a thick layer of snow. Gardening season seems to be over. Someone told us that the growing season is limited, nurseries and garden centers are closed for the winter, and we can't be active in our beloved hobby until spring.
But what does the term 'growing season' actually mean? National Geographic defines ‘A growing season is the period of the year when crops and other plants grow successfully. The growing season is usually calculated by the average number of days between the last frost in spring and the first severe frost in autumn.'
Did you notice? This definition only applies to warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers and squash. And yet, it is the basis for most gardening advice and practice. Who is not familiar with the rule that you shouldn't plant outside before the long May weekend? I'm sure we all agree that this definition above is pretty limiting and kind of a demotivator. It ignores the fact that there are plants that are frost hardy and thrive in cool temperatures. What about, we let the plants decide when their growing season is?!
Every year we at My Nordic Garden start as early as mid-February with starting onions, leeks and celery from seeds indoors. Provide the right conditions - light, water, nutrients - and your plants will grow. Starting your seeds indoors is already one way to extend our growing season, isn't it? Next, we don't wait until the end of May to plant Sutside. You can find us as early as mid-April sowing seeds and planting lettuce outdoors. With the help of cold frames, you can even start a bit earlier. Choosing the right crops for these conditions is the trick. Cold and cool season crops like lettuce, kale, Pack Choi, radishes or spinach love this weather and wouldn't even grow well in the summer heat. Did you ever wonder why your lettuce bolted in June? That's the reason it's too warm for it and the plants get triggered to produce flowers and seeds. So don't wait until it's actually too late to plant outdoors for some of your favorite crops. Starting early is the key.
1) Lettuce, Pac Choi and Celery grown under cover, Oct 30 2022
2) Dinosaur Kale, Giant Swiss Chard, Calendula in raised beds, no cover, Oct 30 2022
3) Tatsoi, Pac Choi, Mustard in cold frame, Oct 30 2022
The same accounts for fall. We don't need to shut down our garden and get winter ready in September. We can continue growing veggies and herbs under cover until Christmas. Growing season is when we make it happen.
I don't want to end this article without a word about all the great possibilities of indoor growing. From starting your own sprouts on the windowsill in less than a week to microgreens and all the different indoor growing systems. For every gardener there is a solution to grow year-round. So now, how long is our growing season really?
Exactly! 356 days!
Happy Gardening :-)
Source for the definition of ‘growing season’: growing season | National Geographic Society https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/growing-season