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186 of 189 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2009
Got a little land? Love a lot of vegetables? Then build yourself a Winter Wonderfarm. You may not be able to enjoy fresh garden tomatoes in the dead of winter, but there are more than 30 green and root vegetables that you can enjoy. From carrots to onions, celery to kohlrabi, and almost every vegetable in between, your Winter Wonderfarm will become the envy of your neighborhood. Perhaps that's where the expression "green with envy" came from . . . a better, greener farm.

The three components to a successful winter harvest, according to Mr. Coleman are:

1) Cold-hardy vegetables
2) Succession planting
3) Protected cultivation

As it turns out, if we can protect our vegetables from the winter winds, we can grow many vegetables successfully, even in the snow. Some vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce and matte, are actually even sweeter and more tender in cooler temperatures. Think you surely have to provide supplementary lighting? Nope . . . not needed when grown in one of Mr. Coleman's "cold houses". He uses these cold houses even in the Maine winters of Zone 5.

You'll also learn about vertical production of tomatoes and how to create your own cold frame with quick hoops made of electrical conduit and 10-foot-wide spun-bonded row cover held down by sandbags. These hoops can cover the same area as a 22 by 48 foot greenhouse at 5% of the cost. Speaking of cost, a recent article in the AARP Magazine indicated that we can save $1,000.00 a year growing our own vegetables in a small garden. Now add your winter crop savings, and imagine what you'd save. Your Winter Wonderfarm will yield delicious, organic vegetables, improving your diet and fattening your wallet. Forget putting out the Christmas lights . . . just grow vegetables.

Lynette Fleming, Coauthor of Lunch Buddies: Buddy Up for a Better Diet
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190 of 195 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2011
I agree with jyoung's review that there are great stories and history lessons in the book of how winter gardening works and how it worked for the French & British in the 1800's. The whole last 1/3rd of the book is about marketing and packaging produce for a business, so not very applicable for me as a home gardener. I also find his stories and techinques difficult to apply on a smaller scale for my home garden. I feel the book lacks actual how-to information, it is just some stories on what he has tried over the years and what he grows to sell to his customer base. Living at almost 11,000 feet in Colorado, I was really hoping for some good information on winter gardening since we have around 7-8 months of snow/year including receiving snow sometimes around (or after) July 4th. Though the book was an interesting read and a good history lesson, it was not quite the technical how-to guide I was looking for.
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87 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
I took a chance on buying the Winter Harvest Handbook because I trusted Coleman's work on the New Organic Grower. I would always recommend checking this book out from the library first to see what you really think before buying. I love the book's glossy color photos and details (his other two books have lovely line drawings). This book can be read by the small commercial grower and the home gardener alike. The tone of the book as in his other books in is plain English, which I love. I've always been interested in using a greenhouse to extend the growing season (yes, even here in Central Texas) however this book changed my mind about the traditional sense of a greenhouse. To me, a green house was a place to store house plants or tropicals over the winter (a sometimes heated storage room), a crowded place to grow a few summer veggies in pots or tubs, or a place to start seeds for the spring and that was it. This book and Four Season Harvest changed all that. I really liked both books they really complement each other.

One caveat: if you grow veggies on 1/4 acre or more you're going to like this book more than if you grow veggies on a small lot (less than 100 sq. ft), on a balcony, or in containers. The reader will have to scale down significantly the concepts in this book. I don't think it's impossible; but it is more work for the reader. also, this is not a how-to book. Coleman gives some guidance but no step-by-step instructions.

The book focuses mostly on unheated hoop-houses, cold frames, and low tunnels (in a commercial setting but again, the concepts can be modified to fit the home grower). Also important to note the focus is on cool season crops (he mentions briefly some summer veggies growing in an unheated green house but I got the impression they were in preparation for the summer, i could be wrong). He may grow tomatoes in a green house all year because of his growing zone. Keep in mind that Coleman's experience is from working on a New England farm so one must modify his suggestions to apply his techniques outside of this growing zone. As a home gardener, I would not let the fact that the book's concepts are based on small commercial farming discourage me. again, though these are unheated greenhouses he's talking about. As inexpensive as he can make them.

One tiny thing that did bother me--Coleman mentions two way overpriced tools, seed planters that can be found at Johnny's Select Seeds. One seeder is nearly 600.00$ and the other seeder is 250.00$. Why do I mention this? Because at first glance, Coleman's organic labor intensive techniques or use of old hand tools may put people off (do a lot of people still use a scythe?). I know it did for me; because even at the home gardener level I'd like to increase my productivity. As a commercial grower I can see the benefit of the 6 row seeder outweighing it's 600.00$ price tag. Regardless of this tool, I think that many of the techniques are worth the effort (even if you just read them) in the long run, if you're looking to rely less on chemicals and more on organic methods. Coleman doesn't tell you to go out and buy these tools but he does encourage you to be creative. Hope this helps.

lastly, i think that Coleman's other book, the Four Season Harvest has many more specific details on greenhouse growing (unheated). I liked that book more than this one, this is why i say it's a great companion book. If i bought this book alone I may have been disappointed.
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73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2009
Once again Elliot Coleman has provided us with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to both home and commercial gardening. In these times of change, it is reassuring to know that there are those who are more than willing to share what they have learned. We have been using some of his techniques here in New Brunswick, Canada with great success. We are currently eating spinach in April and May that we planted last fall in our cold frame. If a crop can survive one of our winters, they should survive elsewhere. If you want to put in a garden, this is a must book to own.
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82 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2009
I have his first one, which I really enjoyed. This one is better-with color photos that will really excite any gardener. There are lists of specific seeds he has found will grow under winter conditions in the greenhouse, and how to help them best make it through the freeze. He list helpful items and where to get them. An easy read,for the person who wants to grow for their family or to sell. A helpful fun book. Elliot is a good teacher.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Readers will learn from this book at their own level of understanding. I'm a novice, so I'll be going back for more as I mature as a vegetable gardener, even though I've got a GREENHOUSE FULL OF VEGETABLES AND THIS IS JANUARY!

I had (still have) so much to learn, but I knew I wanted to grow vegetables when they weren't traditionally supposed to be growing. The Winter Harvest Handbook taught me how the shortened days of winter affect growing (everyone else probably already knew that but I had to read it to understand it) and ways I can use artificial lighting to provide more "daylight" hours. I learned about the option of heating the soil. That method is too advanced for me, but others were just what I needed. I am heating the soil for the seeds I'm sowing.

I had asked my expert-gardener neighbors, "Do the plants really know what season it is?" <grin> They assured me that they didn't. I made it my goal to convince the seeds/seedlings I plant that it is growing season. I accomplished that with the help of this handbook among others.

I can see that a more experienced gardener or those with more land to plant will be more interested in topics related to their projects. I stuck with the topics I could use in my new greenhouse and my new cold frame, which I haven't used yet. I only have so much courage and can only try so many new things at a time. EDITED to say that I did try to use mine. I had given my neighbor one and he used his to produce a good crop of radishes. I tried to use mine, but the wind moved the soil around so much that the carrot seeds I sowed never sprouted. This may not be the location for a cold frame, but it's a good idea for tamer regions.

I've been enjoying my new greenhouse, formerly a screened-in porch, now enclosed with plexiglass and full of growing vegetables--in January! Right now I have spinach, Romaine lettuce, radishes (although I timidly didn't plant enough of those), tomatoes (which I'm learning to pollinate without the assistance of bees since they aren't available), squash, and lots of onions and garlic. A couple of days ago I discovered a cucumber plant which looks like it needs pollination. [EDITED to come back weeks later and say that I successfully pollinated it and it is now a tiny little cucumber and there are more on the way.]

Back to reading to find out exactly how it works with cucumbers when there are no bees around. My greenhouse may not be warm enough to bring that little cucumber to harvest, [EDITED to say that it worked!!!] but {shrug} the other vegetables are, with the exception of the tomatoes that are going that direction and have blossomed, I've hand-pollinated them, and I'm still waiting to see tomatoes, but it's looking good for them too! Romaine lettuce and LOTS of spinach are the stars out there! They are growing with little effort on my part. [EDITED to say that I have dozens of little green cherry tomatoes on my tomato bush now. This is awesome! I had no idea gardening could be so much fun. Where have I been? Oh yes, working, and no time for much of anything but work. This is better.]

The handbook taught me which vegetables tolerate colder conditions and those that can make it in cooler (not cold) conditions. I'll soon be ready to try out the cold-frame and Not not as timid as I was when I started. It's really tough forcing myself to harvest my vegetables though. I love to watch them growing and thriving in my garden, EVEN THROUGH THE OKLAHOMA BLIZZARD OF Christmas Day, 2009.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2009
In 2006 I planted my first fall garden. The first week of September I sowed one of my grow beds in Indian Summer Spinach and a few other recommendations from an article I read about fall gardens. I was amazed at the productivety from this late planting. The quality and quantity was wonderful, and the absense of pests and weeds was noteworthy. To my astonishment I kept harvesting and enjoying spinach first to Thanksgiving, and then into December. When the first snow fall blanketed the foothills where I live the day before Christmas I thought it was all over. New Years was a clear sunny winter day and so I slipping on my snow boots and wondered out to the garden. There I noticed a little dark green peeking out from the edge of the grow bed in I which I had planted the fall spinach. Gently I lifted away the crusty layer of snow and was astounded to find the spinach still florishing. Reaching down I sampled the crunchiest, sweetest spinach I had ever tasted, before returning to the house for a large bowl. The salad that day from our own garden was devine. I picked almost daily until, with a little melancoly, I harvested the last of it on January 20, 2007. That expience led me to wonder what else might be grown in the fall and winter months, and how it could best be accomplished. If you have ever put together a jigsaw puzzle only to find a piece or two missing just as you were completing it,that's how I felt in reverse. I had the missing piece or two, but didn't know where the rest of the puzzle was until just last month when I discovered Eliot Coleman's extraordinary book The Winter Harvest Handbook. Now I have the whole puzzle. But in his humble way I can almost hear Eliot say, "There are still lots of things we need to learn about the winter garden." If you are passionate about growing quality vegetables for your own table or for the market, and want to extend your efforts into the wonderful world of the Winter Harvest I hardily recommend this gift from the master of that season. My only comments for the 3rd edition would be to add more information about watering/irrigation in winter and specific information about seed varieties and their sources. I was so impressed with this book that I am now "plowing" through Coleman's The New Organic Grower.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2009
Although there is a great deal of information that can be applied to the small garden, this book is geared for the gardener wanting to sell produce all winter out of greenhouses. It is well written with many resources and tons of technical information. I'm a small gardener, though, and it is beyond what I plan on doing, at least at this point. Still, it is a very good book.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2009
I bought Eliot Coleman's New Organic Grower years ago and always wanted to get fresh vegetables in the winter. This is way more than just an update to that book! It gives more details and advice to get you going. Now we have a greenhouse (really a high plastic tunnel 11'x17'x7' tall) full of his preferred winter hardy items and we are eating good. I should add we live in Colorado and we had the coldest and snowiest fall that I can remember. We had 3 or 4 snows before Halloween but everything survived and thrived in the unheated greenhouse as he describes. Plus this is in a regular neighborhood and building the greenhouse as Eliot suggests, it meets code without a building permit as it is movable! A must buy.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Based on reading several reviews and the description of the book, I bought this book for information on do-it-yourself back-yard greenhouse growers who wanted to do more organic and year-round growing. Most of the book, however, is about the economics, marketing, and volume issues that face wholesale/retail growers. There were a few good bits of information for non-professionals, but I wish the reviews and description had been more explicit about who the target audience is.
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