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Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,031 ratings  ·  97 reviews
If you love the joys of eating home-garden vegetables but always thought those joys had to stop at the end of summer, this book is for you. Eliot Coleman introduces the surprising fact that most of the United States has more winter sunshine than the south of France. He shows how North American gardeners can successfully use that sun to raise a wide variety of traditional w ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 236 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (first published January 1st 1990)
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Cheryl
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
You know how every once in a while a book comes along and rocks your world? Well, that's this book for me. (You might already have guessed that when you consider that this is the first review I've added in the last year or so.) E. Coleman tells the reader how to harvest from the garden *all year long*. Where? Florida, Californa, Georgia, etc etc? Nope, in zone 5! That's me! No, tomatoes will not grow in February here, but, for example, a person can grow cold-hardy mache (a European green aka cor ...more
Julienne
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very practical (and entertaining!) book with lots of useful information and time-saving steps for those of us northern folk who want fresh garden produce all year long. The author is from Maine and grows salad greens in a simple and inexpensive cold frame all winter long. The book is especially helpful about choosing hardy winter seed varieties from both local and european traditions.
Kate
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Just because I have a history of failing miserably in the garden doesn't mean I'm giving up. Ohhhh no. 2012 will be the year I don't totally suck at keeping plants alive! (This book was great, by the way. If a person is going to go to the trouble of becoming a gardener, it seems silly to only use those skills for a few months out of the year. This guy gives practical, common-sense advice backed by years of experience and experimentation. If he can have fresh salad greens in the dead of winter in ...more
Tom
Mar 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of fresh veggies in the winter months
Eliot Coleman has mastered the art of season extension in the bitter cold regions of northern New England. The book breaks down several techniques for growing vegetables under cover to enjoy throughout the winter. There's also a great section with a complete description of each vegetable along with several facts for growing with rotations, cover crops, and soil amendments. Great book for any home gardener.
Laura
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
You really can grow foods all year round no matter where you live. This book guides you in determining which vegetables grow best in your local climate, and when to plant and harvest them. It is comprehensive and very well organized--a great help in developing and managing a simple and balanced garden. I like this guys style--simple, organized, well thought-out, and earth-friendly.
Andrew Welleford
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This a book from a master, and I can't give it less that five stars. It contains detailed and very practical information on season extension for small-scale growers. It shares multiple approaches to low-cost season extension hardware, such as low-tunnels, high-tunnels, cold frames, and hoop houses. It also has detailed information on which crops are most appropriate for season extension. Lastly, it makes clear how the hardware and crops interact, and provides examples of growing schedules and ap ...more
Sami Shaaban
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This mother f@#$!r is a persuasive, obsessive compulsive gardening genius, one result of which is a snow-covered 10' x 20' greenhouse now standing in our Pittsburgh back yard.

Eliot figured that since the south of France sits at latitudes comparable to his own home in Maine, that he should be able to emulate their ability to garden in the winter. Sure they have a different climate, but they also get no more or less sun, so with enough low-tech protection and some hardy plants even inhabitants in
...more
Bethany
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My favorite, most useful, "Here's how to make it work for you" gardening book. Eliot gets a kick out of giving his brutally honest opinions about how vegetables taste in winter supermarkets, or supermarkets in general. Everyone can agree that there's nothing like a homegrown tomato or melon fresh out of the garden. I really enjoyed the philosophy of gardening, the practical, non-competitive approach to growing tasty things all year round for your own table, and the very readable style it was wri ...more
Heather
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those resources that I borrowed from the library initially and now intend to purchase because I just know I'm going to be referring back to it time and again. Super grateful to have guidance from someone well-versed in growing crops during the cold seasons, with inexpensive, traditional methods.
Stephanie
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gardening
Excellent reading and resource book for gardening year-round. It's not about having a heated greenhouse or fancy equipment, but instead about growing what items matched for the season and your location and utilizing as many natural environmental controls as possible. I have pages of notes and plan on trying several of the winter crops suggested.
Justin
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: gardening
Didn't go into enough detail on most of the things I am interested in (there was a good amount of detail on tools, greenhouses, row coverings and other winter centered topics and could be good if that's your bag).
Kathleen
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Multiple times - I just need to buy this. Looks like the library copy is gone! :(
Someday....
Kim Zinkowski
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some very useful information...which I will keep in the back of my mind until I am ready to commit to an extended gardening season.
Katarina Ross
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gardening, favorites
Coleman provides an excellent overview of vegetables to grow and harvest all year round, even in the harshest of climates. The Four-Season Harvest is about plant selection and preventing severe temperature drops/fluctuations from damaging the chosen plants. Coleman brings his wealth of experience to the table with recommended varieties (for hardiness, flavour etc.) as well as tools and construction. This man of many skills outlines not only how to grow great produce, but also how to build multi- ...more
Amanda
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it
In a conversational tone – like you leaned over the fence and asked for advice from the neighbor with the enviable garden – the author explains how to keep on producing salad greens and a variety of other crops right through the winter and into spring, without breaking the bank on a heated greenhouse. “This book won't discuss heat pumps, thermal mass, solar gain, or R factors because they are too complicated. They make the simple joys of food production seem more industrial than poetic. Given th ...more
Lise Petrauskas
I like this book, but it's one of those where you have to actually start working on a project to get the most out of it. I find that I'm not as likely to follow someone else's specific instructions for gardening than I am to take general knowledge and adapt it to my garden and my habits. I'd like to think that I'm going to have this wonderful green house and do row covers and cold frames and grow food all winter — heck, I live in the PNW, the perfect climate for it— but in some ways I think that ...more
Abigail
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've recently got back into gardening and so I decided that this book would probably be helpful for me. 

Overall I feel that this book was fairly useful for me. Right off the bat there's a chapter on composting that I found to be very educational. There were lots of practical advice on how to best create one, and I can't wait to be able to start my own.  

I also really liked all of the chapters on how to start and maintain a fall and winter garden. I was really hoping I would be able to try out so
...more
Carl Wade
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Pg xv: Scott and Helen Nearing are mentioned.
Pg 6: Corn, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, or eggplants need the heat of summer. Others can be grown in cooler times.
Pg 17: When smelly compost is a problem, it needs more "brown" additives like straw. How about coffee grounds?
Pg 29: What adds minerals to compost piles?
Pg 33: Walking the yard and look for miniclimates. Find where snow melts first in the spring. The King along the Rhine did this when he brought grape culture.
Pg 45: Before leaving the ga
...more
Shae
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don't know why I get so lucky to find a good gardening book every winter to read (maybe it's because it is winter that it seems so good -- like that first meal after fasting), but this will be my go-to on cold weather gardening for 2016. Eliot Coleman explains that most of the United States has more winter sunshine than the south of France. He recounts his trip through that same southern France as he and his wife toured the abundant winter gardens there -- cold hardy crops harvested fresh all ...more
Arminzerella
Eliot Coleman and his family have been studying and practicing the ancient art of the four-season harvest over many years - refining their designs, equipment, and techniques for their extensive garden plot in Maine. They have a lot of experience and are eager to share what they've learned with other enthusiastic gardeners who are interested in harvesting fresh produce year round. (Just take a look at the bowl full of salad greens they collected from their greenhouse and cold frames in January, a ...more
Megan
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, gardening
I am so sad to be finished reading this book. Elliot Coleman is passionate and highly knowledgeable about vegetables. His enthusiasm is inspiring and contagious. He also writes well.

This book does overlap a good bit of the information from The Winter Harvest Handbook. That book is newer, written after years of growing in winter in unheated greenhouses in zone 5 commercially, and contained more history of the French market growers and their tradition of hotbeds, cloches, and winter gardening gene
...more
Jen
Oct 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent resource for both the summer gardener and the year-round gardener. Coleman accompanies easy-to-read instructions and detailed illustrations with the heartfelt and comical experiences of his own gardening efforts.

I especially enjoyed the historical research into old-fashioned and forgotten vegetables, the use of cold frames, root cellars and other old-world low-tech solutions. Most of his suggestions can be followed with a minimum of expense at first, and then replace o
...more
Evan Denno
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book made me do a "Why didn't I think of that before?" forehead smack. I live in Maine, like the author, and have always missed fresh vegetables over the long winter. By spring, directions to "plant in March" on cold season seed packets seem like cruel taunts as I look out snow that won't disappear until mid-April. Coleman's techniques for extending his vegetable harvest beyond the growing season do require some commitment from the gardener, but are presented at a realistic level fo ...more
Janie
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: garden, food, seasonal
Makes me want to learn to use a scythe.

Fabulous for
+ colder climes (he's in zone 5) -- structures, strategies, and species (top 5 down to zone 3: spinach, scallions, mache, claytonia, and carrots)
+ Chapter 7 (about ducks)
+ conversational *and* citational

Good for
* soil building; tilth protecting; no-till gardening
* graphics (harvest calendars, rotation tables, pictures of pests, instructions for hardware)

Not good for
- edible perennials
- small-scale (sub)urban growing; if you don't have a site
...more
Kevin Dougherty
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love the pragmatic approach in this book to all season vegetable farming. Being written by someone who has done this, still does it, and makes it work is a huge plus for this book. So many farming/gardening books are more based on theory rather than the sensible and practical nature of Elliot's approach. Being a Vermont grower, I can certainly relate to the conditions that Elliot successfully deals with in Maine. This book is inspiring and gives me hope of a new direction for me to branch out ...more
Joshua
Eliot Coleman is a national treasure. Simple, no-nonsense guide to raising food year-round (even in Maine!) using cold frames and polytunnels combined with cold-hardy vegetables. I would put Coleman's philosophy halfway between Jeavons and Solomon, with respect to intensity, fancy transplating/timing, etc. Very practical construction guides for all of this. Plus you get the story of his trip to France (scouting out vegetable varieties) woven into it. Shortly after reading this, I gave a copy to ...more
Amy
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great basic info for giving courage to start out with a 4-season outlook to gardening. Now to explore the various vagetables that would be available in the late Summer, early Fall-Besides salad greens. I WILL try to get the salad veges going, but then I wonder how the family will take to the different greens, besides the head Lettuce we have all become accustomed to.
Wish me luck! There was also some other books on gardening listed in the back of this one, may need to walk the garden Isle in my l
...more
PJ
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
I got really excited when first reading this book, about the prospects of greenhouse growing in Michigan during the winter. That is until someone reminded me how cloudy MI is during the winter...so I did some research, and sure enough, the part of Maine the author lives in has more sunny days than the US average in winter, whereas Michigan is among the cloudiest of all areas, with sunny days far below the national average. It's still a good book, but I think the author should've made as much a p ...more
Diana
Aug 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm so excited to have found this priceless resource!! This book is incredible. Essentially, he argues that we can be harvesting/gardening year round, even in our zone (he is in Maine). Practical guidance on starting and maintaining a winter garden from an obviously experienced and respected gardener. I'm learning about vegetables and techniques I never knew. A combo of tools, equipment, technique, and lists of cold-loving plants make this book an essential reference. So excited to start my firs ...more
Astrid Yrigollen
Dec 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a more in depth book on growing your own vegetables even through winter. If you are interested in cold storage or what types of beds to use, what to grow in winter, this book is for you. Coleman has a lot of information in this book,some black and white illustrations and some color photos of hoop houses and frames.You will have to purchase some additional items that you may not need in warmer climates, but none of it is break the bank costly and depends entirely on you and what you ...more
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