Toronto Star

Make the most out of vegetable growing season

Green thumbs don’t need to hibernate — set up your garden to harvest veggies into fall and winter


For many gardeners, fall is a signal it’s time to clean up the vegetable garden; plants are starting to look a little peaked, tomatoes are slower to ripen and herbs may have gone to seed.

However that doesn’t mean you need to pack it all in and “shut down” the veggie garden completely. There are several edibles that thrive in cooler weather and some that will make it right through the winter, provided they’re given the proper protection.

“I like to extend the season in my vegetable garden because it allows me to provide homegrown, organic food for my family all year long — even in winter,” says Niki Jabbour, author of The Year Round Vegetable Gardener. “Plus, it cuts my grocery bill and introduces us to the wide variety of cold-season vegetables that taste better after the weather turns cold.”

Here are ways you can extend the season in your garden: Tuck in your plants If some plants are still chugging along nicely in the garden, but there is a threat of frost, floating row cover is a great material to have at the ready. Use it to cover the plants in the late afternoon/early evening as the temperatur­e drops and remove in the morning, depending on the forecast. (A lightweigh­t bedsheet can also help in a pinch.) Use rocks or logs to hold it down or tuck the edges into the soil. You can also use spring clamps, available at most big-box stores, to secure the fabric more firmly to the edges of a raised bed.

Michelle Slatalla says she learned to garden through osmosis — both her father and grandmothe­r had gardens in the Chicago suburbs where she grew up.

A prolific author and journalist — she’s been a columnist for the New York Times and has published both fiction and non-fiction books — Slatalla shifted gears in 2012 to launch Gardenista.

It’s a sister site to the popular online interior design destinatio­n Remodelist­a, founded by Slatalla’s friends Julie Carlson and Josh Groves.

Both websites emphasize the fact that your outdoor space is living space, no matter how much or how little you have.

“We are as interested in how to make it comfortabl­e and well-furnished and a space you’ll use year round as we are in the traditiona­l idea of plants, planting and horticultu­re info,” says Slatalla of Gardenista.

This month, Slatalla’s new book, Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to

Stylish Outdoor Spaces, will be published, providing a big bouquet of ideas that you can digest over the winter and use to inspire your own outdoor space come spring.

What’s your current garden like? Are there any challenges you’ve had to address?

This is the first house where I created a garden from a blank slate.

Because of what I do for a living, my garden at home is my experiment­al field where I’ll test out new plants. I had been living in New York City around the time the High Line opened. When I got back to California, I thought: How do you translate these sorts of ideas to a Mediterran­ean climate like Northern California?

We have a big problem with water. Drought-tolerant plants and grasses are a big part of our future and where garden design is headed. I wondered what would grow here and what would thrive.

I gave over half of my front garden to this colourful mini meadow, which is a loose homage to the High Line. It’s crazy how it’s so full of butterflie­s and bees and hummingbir­ds.

In the other half of my garden, I was playing around with the idea of minimal, but more formal tailored planting — how little can you do to make a space look green without using a lot of water?

There is a boxwood maze in progress, Daphne shrubs, which are fragrant and green in California all year round, and there is an olive tree in the middle of it.

Can you describe how the Gardenista book came about?

Remodelist­a published a book in 2013. We had a blueprint of how we wanted to cover these kinds of topics in a book format. The next logical thing for us to do was a gardening book.

Remodelist­a really pays attention to remodellin­g details. In Gardenista, we lovingly talk about drainage, gravel, gutters — those nitty gritty things that exist in the garden and people have a lot of questions about them, but they’re glossed over in gardening books. What we were (also) trying to do is give people in different climates different kinds of plans.

What are your favourite designs in the book?

It’s so hard to pick because every time we’d go to take photos, that would be the new favourite. Rose Uniacke has an indoor London conservato­ry with a huge skylight.

It’s quite grand and wonderful. John Derian, the designer, has a garden at the opposite end of the spectrum on Cape Cod with edibles and wildflower­s and a tough, seaside cottagey garden. That’s what I love about the book. If a reader picks a favourite, it’s going to be based on style or climate. There’s no best garden.

What do you hope readers take away from the book?

What I hope is that everybody who gets a copy of this book is going to want to look at it and dog-ear a page or five or 10. There will be a photo or caption or idea and the reader will be like: “I want to try that in my own garden” or “I never thought about that, but I can see how I can recreate this look.” I hope it’s full of concrete ideas that are useful, as well as really beautiful.

Are there any trends you see moving into 2017?

We see that our readers are interested in perennial grasses and how to integrate them into traditiona­l gardens that have flowering perennials and herbaceous borders.

Another trend I see is our readers are interested in getting rid of turf grass because it uses too much water. In large swaths it can be boring — it’s this velvety green luxury. A lot of our readers are interested in turning their yards into meadows — growing wildflower­s and maybe mowing a path through it to get to the door.

 ?? DONNA GRIFFITH/RAISED BED REVOLUTION ?? An old window can be used to create a cold frame, which will extend your growing season.
DONNA GRIFFITH/RAISED BED REVOLUTION An old window can be used to create a cold frame, which will extend your growing season.
 ??  ?? Michelle Slatalla’s latest book is Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces.
Michelle Slatalla’s latest book is Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces.

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