Niki Jabbour is a real year-round vegetable gardener. She knows a thing or two about extending the growing season. She easily earned that badge of honor by actually doing it from one of the most unlikely of places, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first frost of the year shows up about mid-October, and the last is typically mid-May.
Niki harvests fresh produce from her garden 365 days a year. She also wrote the book on it. The Year-round Vegetable Gardener, is in its eighth printing, with well over 100,000 copies sold. That’s a remarkable feat for nearly any book – especially one on vegetable gardening in the winter.
Several years ago, Niki really got serious with her year-round vegetable garden by adding 22 large raised beds to an area of her property cleared for just that purpose. And recently, she added a large polytunnel (similar to a greenhouse) to really push the limits to find new ways for extending the growing season.
Niki shares her experiences in her books, on social media, her radio show, and on her website (links below). In this episode, she gives lots of details about her year-round vegetable garden, including tips and tricks for extending the season in your own garden.
If you want a lot more information about Niki’s tips for season-extending success and more, be sure to listen to the companion podcast from GGWTV host, Joe Lamp’l. He interviewed Niki for an episode of his top-rated gardening podcast, The joe gardener Show.
There’s no one else like Niki to offer so many takeaways.
Niki’s Tips for Extending the Season
Timing is everything – Grow the right crops at the right time. Niki divides her growing strategy into three seasons: warm (summer), cool (spring and fall), and cold (winter).
Niki knows no shortage of options for her cold season garden. She typically grows about 30 types of crops in winter. The key is proper timing for planting. Carrot seeds are sown in early August, with heading crops such as broccoli and cauliflower a bit later, and leafy crops such as spinach and lettuce all the way into October.
Mulch magic – Fall is a great time of year to gather up leaves for deep mulching. Straw works well too. Either is piled high at around 18” but settles quickly to about 12”.
Don’t worry about covering foliage. On top of mulch, Niki adds an old bed sheet or row cover to hold mulch in place. Finally, a bamboo stake or stick to mark the bed when snow covers the area helps guide you to the buried treasure.
Mini hoop tunnels – Niki uses both PVC and metal conduit but is slowly converting to all conduit due to its durability and longevity. A metal pipe bender purchased from Johnny’s Seeds makes the job easy.
Cold frames – Niki calls these year-round food factories by creating a microclimate around your veggies and protects your plants.
Niki shares some final advice about not feeling the pressure to grow it all. There’s no shame in not growing what you don’t enjoy. With so many options to buy from farmers’ markets instead, grow what you love. It’s much easier and more enjoyable.
Links & Resources
The Year-round Vegetable Gardener book: Great growing tips and timing on when to plant no matter where you live.
Veggie Garden Remix (238 new plants to shake up your garden for variety, flavor, and fun)
Savvy Gardening website co-founded by Niki
*Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we would get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us. None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools. These companies are either Brand Partners of joegardener.com and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.