Secrets to a Successful All-Year Garden
Earlier this week, we took you on a tour of JC’s backyard garden where she and her family grow fruit and vegetables pretty much all year long. Today we’re back to show you how they keep everything going into the winter months, plus we’ll divulge their secret to ensuring large harvests of fruit each year.
As JC pointed out on the tour, there are many vegetables that enjoy the cold weather — kale, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, arugula — and some of these even taste better if grown in the cooler months.
But once the first frost appears, cold weather plants need some protection too. JC’s DIY solution is overwintering with garden fabric and thick c-shaped wire frames. She firmly sticks the wire frames in the ground (about a foot or so apart), drapes the fabric over top, and secures the sides of the fabric to the ground with bricks or rocks.
As long as the plants are covered when the temps are low, they will thrive in the winter. And who knows, come mid-February, you may still be enjoying that crop of arugula you planted as seeds in September.
Now, as for the secret to boosting crop production, well that is… Bees!
Bees = pollination. Pollination = more fruit. More fruit = happy farmers! Without the backyard hive of bees, JC’s cherry tree relies upon whatever local bees are buzzing around the neighborhood. But with hundreds of bees living directly on the premises, the cherry trees can produce more than three times as much fruit in a season.
The bees also create quite a large quantity of honey too. During an actual harvest, this box and its trays would be swarming with bees and oozing honeycomb.
The individual trays would then go in the extractor. JC demonstrated how churning the handle of the extractor releases the “liquid gold” from the trays.
Though I was only a few feet from the active hive, no bees came anywhere near me. However, when it’s time to harvest the honey, JC’s husband wears a full protective suit and smokes the bees. Smoking simply dazes and confuses the bees so they won’t go into a rage at the sight of their honey being confiscated. Once the operation is complete, the bees go back to business as usual.
And yes, if cared for properly, bees can survive the harsh winter too. They prefer to be lowered as close to the ground as possible and given a steady diet of sugar water to keep honey production going.
Why grow more fruit and vegetables than you need? To JC it’s all about sharing. She gardens “as a means to be generous.” And, she adds, “Anything worth growing is worth growing a lot of to share with others.”
Have a question about overwintering or beekeeping for JC? Post a comment below.