The Avenue

Planning Time: Use Winter to Plan Next Season’s Garden, or Use a Greenhouse to Grow Year-Round

I am enjoying this day. It is in the 70s in December, and my New England blood is identifying the weather as that of a very comfortable summer day. It is hard to believe that it is winter in Tennessee. I know the colder weather is coming.

I just love gardening in Tennessee. It is easily a three-season climate for growing vegetables. With a little effort, like a cold frame or a greenhouse, it could easily be year-round vegetable gardening. Before you raise an objection to this idea, let me share a personal experience:

I once went on a press tour of the Eastern Townships area of Quebec, concentrated in the skiing areas of Magog and Sherbrooke. I stayed at an auberge, which I will define as a small hotel, independently owned. The owner hosted the press dinner, which was held in a combination of French and English, often changing languages in midsentence. Then, I understood French better than I spoke it, and now I confess to being very rusty as I have not left this country since 9/11. In those days, I needed only to show my license and maybe my birth certificate to cross borders. Once, at the airport, I had to pay a $10 fee, which I called my “Get Out of Canada” pass. I still don’t know what that tariff was that I paid, but I digress. Now we need a passport to travel to Canada.

The auberge presented the press tour with a six-course dinner, each course paired with a different local wine. My interest was piqued. This trip was in late January and early February. Fresh, locally grown produce was part of the meal. People are skiing outside; I am eating fresh, locally grown vegetables. Of course, if you live in a version of the Great North, I suppose there have been generations harnessing the environment and making the most of their situation. I also have a friend who lives in Alaska and he has shared some knowledge of the subterranean farming being done in his area. I love creative people. Creativity is often driven by need.

Gardeners and farmers in this area may choose to create more year-round vegetable gardening. I do know of a few farmers that are raising fresh greens throughout the year in a greenhouse environment.

For most of us, January is a great time to research and plan for the upcoming growing season. Subscribe to catalogs and read about others’ successes, ideas and new products. Visit centers and shows, and peruse books and magazines. Talk with other gardeners. There are many online groups as well as local people who are interested in gardening. If you are interested in attending a meeting of the Rutherford County Master Gardeners Association, they have monthly meetings from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the Lane Agri-Park Community Building. The meeting starts at 7; a potluck dinner is held prior. You could call the extension office to ask if there is a speaker scheduled that month.

If you place your seed order in January, and want to collect seeds in the fall for the 2017 planting season, be sure to order heirloom varieties.

Mark your calendars for some winter inspiration through local Garden Shows. The Nashville Garden Show is scheduled for March 3–6 at the Nashville Fairgrounds.

Murfreesboro is hosting the Garden Show and Party at the Lane Agri-Park on March 18 and 19. Free parking, speakers, vendors, flower arranging and an art show are scheduled throughout the two days. A family-friendly Garden Party with a band and entertainers will join the show on Friday night. This paper, the Murfreesboro Pulse, is one of the sponsors of the Garden Show. Come enjoy the knowledge and ideas that will be circulating.

Have fun planning. Realize that everything you plan can take several seasons to implement.

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