Winter Growing & Season Extension

Be first and last to market

Be first and last to market

by Lynn Byczynski, Author & Founder of Growing for Market

Growing and selling over the longest possible season is a key to success on your market farm. Being the first to market with farm fresh products in the spring and having a variety of products available through winter will help differentiate your operation and build customer loyalty.

Extending CSA shares through 3–4 seasons lets you spread the workload and the risks by growing across multiple seasons. Bottom line: you'll make more money. At home, you'll own bragging rights with family, friends, and neighbors.

Sow spring vegetables in an unheated hoophouse as soon as your day length reaches 10 hours. In January, February and March, plant arugula, beets, carrots, chard, kale/collards, lettuce, radishes, salad mix, scallions, spinach, and salad turnips.

Start the cold-hardy vegetables listed above under Quick Hoops or caterpillar tunnels for a low-cost alternative to greenhouses, as soon as the soil can be worked.

After the last frost, plant summer crops on plastic mulch for maximum soil warming.

Use row cover to provide a protected environment that will get seedlings off to a good start.

Plant several successions of crops, counting back from the first frost date to calculate the final planting of the year.

Grow plenty of storage crops, including onions, garlic, winter squash, potatoes, leeks, storage cabbage, carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi, and sweet potatoes, to sell throughout the autumn and winter.

Plant cold-tolerant crops in the field and be ready to protect them with row cover as the frost date approaches.

Plant cold-hardy crops under Quick Hoops, caterpillar tunnels, or hoophouses for fall harvest.

About the Author
Author Lynn Byczinski
Lynn Byczinski
Author & Founder of Growing for Market
Lynn Byczynski was growing organic vegetables and cut flowers for market when she decided to create a magazine that would help market gardeners nationwide share experiences and information. Her first issue of Growing for Market appeared in January 1992, and GFM has been published continuously ever since, becoming renowned in the market-gardening world for realistic articles that provide practical, how-to information about growing and selling produce and flowers.

Byczynski and her family have been growing vegetables and cut flowers since 1988, selling through CSAs, at farmers' markets, to chefs, grocery stores, and florists. They currently grow cut flowers and hoophouse tomatoes on about 2 acres of their 20-acre farm near Lawrence, Kansas.

She is also the author/editor of two of our favorite books about market farming, The Flower Farmer and The Hoophouse Handbook.