The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener Book Review

I was looking forward to reading Niki Jabbour’s The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener because my farming apprenticeship had a significant focus on season extension, as the farm is currently going into its twelfth month of continuous harvest. But we were growing in Virginia, whereas Ms. Jabbour has succeeded in maintaining a year-round garden in the more challenging Nova Scotian climate. Because of this, her book achieves its subtitle: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live.

The book is chock full of information, from the basics (timing the seasons and intensive planting) to the complex (building structures to capture and maintain heat). It is comprehensive enough that a relative novice could start with The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener as a valuable resource. A more seasoned grower might be tempted to skip over some familiar-sounding sections, but I would urge you to read cover-to-cover as unique and useful tips are sprinkled throughout the entire text.

The chapter on winter gardening progresses from light protection (like row covers) to using an unheated greenhouse or building your own polytunnel, so a grower in any hardiness zone or variously sized growing space can find techniques to meet his or her needs. The plans to build your own cold frame or polytunnel are easy to follow and call for inexpensive materials. Plus, the chapter motived me with photos of lusciously green vegetables thriving alongside snow and ice.

Like many other gardening books, this one concludes with a crop index. Ms. Jabbour recommends specific cultivars based on cold or heat tolerance or days to maturity and includes an emphasis on vegetable varieties less talked about in other books; for example, Tatsoi has its own entry.
In short: I love this book. It’s a wonderful resource for year-round vegetable growing knowledge and inspiration. Now, if only I didn’t live in a studio apartment!

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  1. Nick Wondra says

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been getting interested in learning more about year-round vegetable production and I hadn’t heard of this book. Have you read Eliot Coleman’s “The Four Season Harvest”, and if so how does it compare to this book?

  2. Janie Hummel says

    OMG! This book would so come in handy for my cooking endeavors. I have successfully grown herbs indoors all winter. I would love to learn how to grow additional edible plants ALL year long. Wonderful!

  3. Michael says

    This book looks and sounds awesome. Just what I need!! I love profuse produced with a bit of elbow grease!!!!!

  4. Geoff D says

    Wonderful review and looks like a fantastic book. Thanks Eric. Another great way to feed the gardening addiction!

  5. Anje Cassel says

    We are excited about trying to garden year round, not just in the summer anymore, even in the mountains where the winders are cold.

  6. says

    I sure could use this book about now because I would like to garden year round.In the part of Western N.C. where I live we have a moderate yet many days of COOOLD weather.I am wanting to try everything that will give me the ability to to have FRESH veggies.

  7. Sarah says

    Nick – I’ve never read The Four Season Harvest so I can’t say. I have read Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook, which was excellent but better suited for farmers or serious market gardeners due to complexity, expense, etc.

  8. rosalind denny says

    first year adding 2 more seasons to my veggie gardening.
    now I’m so looking forward to add the last season.

  9. Marj says

    I would love to have a copy of this book! I have a hoop greenhouse and I need more ideas on how to use it. Need winter greens!

  10. Dave Chapman says

    I also live in NS and Niki has been in my life as a gardening journalist for years, although we only met last month. Her advice is practical, and based on a firm grasp of gardening fundamentals. Her knowledge is so innate, her advice seems almost trivial, but there is layer upon layer of horticultural wisdom in this book, a wisdom that only derives from rich experience and a deep love of the subject. On top of all that, Niki is a delightfully charming individual, and I feel fortunate to have met her. There is a very good reason that Year-Round Vegetable Gardening is the number one gardening book in Chapters right now.

  11. Julia says

    I could use some advice on managing winter weather up here in Wisconsin!

    I snagged a couple of old windows (wood frames, single pane) I saw by the side of the road after watching Eric’s video on making cold frames, but I have not yet constructed one. I love the idea of the heat sensitive vent placed high on the north (back) wall–this is simpler than the heat sensitive greenhouse vent openers that other folks have called for.

  12. Amy Fiore says

    This book sounds amazing! I love your description of it. I am a huge Garden Fork Fan and download all your podcasts as well as Garden Fork TV videos. I can’t wait to try the outdoor pizza oven!!! Thanks, Eric!

  13. Wade from Calgary says

    While most everybody assumes it is just cold up here in winter, Calgary has the unique problem of being very close to the mountains, and we get Chinooks. This leaves us with an average winter temperature of about -5, with swings from -30 to + 20 on a frequent basis.
    As we have a short growing season with very cool summer nights, anything I can to to moderate temperatures year round is very helpful. I will definitely have to find this at the library.

  14. Brenda Troutman says

    I have started to read the “Four Season Harvest”. This past winter I built several cold frames and kept swiss chard, along with several root veggies. So far, so good! However, it has been a mild winter.

  15. Donna Hummer says

    I just discovered Garden Fork TV through Youtube when I watched the yogurt making video. I love gardening and this book would come in handy due to living in the Northeast. I am really enjoying your web site and thanks so much for a chance to win this awesome giveaway.

  16. Kris from CT says

    Yeah Sarah!!!
    I have been a GF follower for a couple years now and I am so glad you’re doing book reviews! I have Eliot Coleman’s “The Winter Harvest Handbook” but I would love a less commercially focused book that I can really get my hands dirty with while leaving my wallet intact. Besides I’ve had a pile of old windows and a sliding glass door in my yard that my husband keeps trying to throw out! I know if I only had direction I could re-arrange that pile into a beautiful (in my eyes) cold frame/green house. Keep em’ comin’, Sarah.
    PS. Congrats on the pregnancy, GR’s growing leaps-n-bellies these days ;0)

  17. ruth deibler says

    So, Sarah….just bought a house with a ready to go garden! Moving in in May and must gain some wisdom from you on your next trip into town!

  18. Thomas says

    there are so many books that offer alluring promises of winter harvest, most from authors blesses with southern sunshine writing books that are little better than fiction. if this really is what it claims to be (I hope so) then break out the bubbly! lets celebrate! heaven on earth is atainable!

  19. Thomas says

    There are so many many boooks out there offering tantalizing but empty promises of winter harvest. Most are little better than fiction to us northerners, written as they are by authors blessed with southern sunshine. A book from a somone ACTUALLY LIVEING AND GARDENING IN CANADA THOUGH! Now thats different! Feel that lump in your throats fellow northern gardeners? Thats hope!

  20. says

    I would love to get this book for me and to share with our green thumb neighbors. By the way, I love the new “minimalist” look of the GardenFork site!

  21. says

    I think I’d find this book very useful. The last couple of years I’ve been kicking myself for not planning on a longer gardening season and that’s led into thinking about just how far I could push it. Year-round gardening would be the ultimate!

  22. Jennifer Fraser says

    Very much looking forward to reading this book. Been looking at greenhouses and contemplating my options…being on a north facing hill in a zone 4 area of NH has shown me some challenges…hoping to find some much needed help with this book!

  23. Hunter Melson says

    Though it has been an unusually mild winter for us here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia we have been impressed by the success we’ve had with our season extension efforts. If you like to see some of what we have done check out Mattawoman Creek Farms on facebook.

  24. Nancy Shaar says

    This is a fantastic book which I am using daily! I’ve been gardening for over 45 years but I learned so many new things from Niki Jabbour’s marvelous book. I also passed it along to an organic farmer friend of mine and he is already using some of her hints and vegetable choices. Sustainable living is the way of the future. I highly recommend this book for beginners as well as the more experienced gardeners.

  25. Joan FrisinaBowles says

    This book sounds wonderful. With the high cost of food, and the not-so-healthy looking vegetables in Maine’s grocery stores, my husband and I look forward to using this book, and growing year-round vegetables again. Our septic system erupted a few years ago and our wonderful garden area was destroyed, and we had to start all over. I would like to find an alternative way to grow foods, in smaller areas, and throughout the colder months. This book is just what I was looking for, and it was recommended by a friend.

  26. Phue says

    I live in East Tennessee with similar climates, I would hope to be able to reproduce the same types of crops and ideas to expand our growing season.

  27. John Watton says

    I live in zone 4b. As I write this we are in the middle of a snowstorm. Sure can’t wait for spring to get back in the garden!

  28. Pat Lewis says

    I am very interested in year round gadening due the high price of gas and groceries. I am 80 yrs. old and plan to retire form my job March 2013, so I am going to need to learn how to live on less.

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