Your essential 4-season garden supply guide is the resource you need to ensure garden success every month of the year!
Let’s explore the infrastructure and maintenance equipment and supplies you’ll need to create and maintain a 4-season garden. The advice offered here comes from 12 years of hard-learned growing experience. This list is made by keeping the environmental impacts of gardening top of mind and offers some care tips for the gardener.
This post also contains affiliate links based on my personal experience with products that support a seasonal lifestyle. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I hope you find them useful.
Of all the lessons I’ve learned by growing every month of the year in a 4-season garden, is that the more organized I am, the easier the job!
There are many ways to organize your work in a 4-season garden. Whatever your process, keep in mind you need to organize your tools, seeds, equipment, and time.
To help you stay organized in the 4-season garden, I created the FREE Monthly Garden Tasklists ebook. It’s a nifty little download that offers a garden task list for each month of the year. I use it myself and update it every winter as I learn better ways to stay organized in the garden.
You can get one here! I hope it helps you plan your work and work you plan in the 4-season garden!
The 4-Season Garden Begins with the Soil
If you go no further in this post, read this section from beginning to end.
There is nothing more important for a grower than the condition of her soil.
It takes time to create vibrant garden soils. You want the kind of growing environment that makes your plants spring from the ground and flourish. By building raised beds, using living mulches and cover crops, and enhancing the soil with natural and organic compost and fertilizers, you make the greatest investment possible in your 4-season garden.
I recommend you begin by crafting your own potting mix to start seeds and amend your raised beds. In this post, I give readers my easy and more complicated potting mix recipes. This year, set aside time in February and March to make a batch for your seedlings. As you transplant them into your garden beds, you’ll be adding organic matter and essential nutrients to a growing area depleted by last year’s harvest.
Planning Dominates Winter Garden Tasks
In a 4-season environment, not much grows from mid-December to mid-January. There’s simply not enough sunlight to spark growth.
That makes these months perfect for garden planning and seed starting.
So, grab your garden journal and pens! Start by documenting where you are. What improvements and general maintenance need to be made to existing garden sites?
Then, go to the other extreme and describe in word and image your dream garden space. Let your dreams soar! The skies the limit on what’s possible.
Finally, what can you realistically do this year to moev your existing garden toward that optimal image? The keyword here is realistically. In the garden, it’s better to do things small and well, than to cast your efforts wide and far. The forces of nature (read bugs, weeds, and weather) will undo all those half-hearted and ill conceived efforts.
Start those seeds!
Keeping a 4-season garden comes with costs! There’s no way around the fact that you’ll need to spend some serious money on creating a 4-season garden, especially in the early years of build out.
Starting seeds indoors is the one thing you can do to take a serious bite out of your garden expenses. Seeds cost a fraction of live plants. You can also diversify the varieties available to your gardens by selecting open pollinated, non-GMO seeds from reputable suppliers.
Use these resources to create the best seed starting regimen for your agricultural zone and garden goals.
Building Raised Garden Beds Made for 4-Season Growing
The easiest way to create optimal soil conditions for your 4-season garden is to build and maintain raised garden beds. It’s pretty easy to do, and there are options availabel for any aesthetic or budget requirements.
Over the years, Bob and I have used a variety of materials for our raised beds including untreated oak, cedar, plastic, and steel. We’ve found the money invested in the plastic and steel raised beds is worth every penny, otherwise you are rebuilding the beds aevery few years as the untreated wood rots.
Check out this tutorial from Mary’s Organic Seeds. I plan on having our own set of tutorials later this year, but Mary is just awesome in her simplicity.
Cover the Raised Beds with Low Tunnels and Hoop Houses
I love my low tunnels and hoop houses! They bring magic to the fall and winter garden.
Hoop houses use a built infrastructure to support UV platic over your raised bed. This easy-to-build greenhouse enviroment requires no light or additional heat to grow in the colder, darker months. The only drawback to hoop houses is they can collapse in a heavy snowfall, especially if the snalfall is wet. We recommend taking the platic off if ablizzard is predicted. Once the storm is over, pull the plastic back over the structure. The snow is melted and the garden gets some much-needed water!
Low Tunnels in the 4-Season Garden
Low tunnels are a much simpler version of a hoop house that uses metal supports and a frost protection fabric called Agribon, or remay. These multi-purpose structures serve several fucntions in the 4-season garden.
They certain offer frost protection with each layer of frabric decreasing your agricultural zone by 1. For instance, I’m in Zone 6a. With 2 layers of agribon, I can grow in a raised bed as if we are in 4a.
This is how Bob and I build our hoop houses. We’ll be building new this year, so check back for our own tutorials!
Install Irrigation for Soil and Plant Health
Top watering your vegetables is not the best way to care for your 4-season garden. Top watering is ineffiecient. It also invistes disease and pests to your garden spaces.
Installing irrigation in your raised beds is the best way to ensure your 4-season garden is well-watered in an environmentally friendly manner.
There are plenty of irrigaiton options. Some growers like the irrigiation tape. I actually hater it because it is flimsy and meant to be disposable. I prefer to invest in a quality irrigiation system that can take a 4-season growing environment for years to come.
Here’s an easy tutorial!
Pest Management Practices for the 4-Season Garden
Nothing, not one thing, is more disheartening than losing a garden harvest to bugs. And man! Once they find a crop they love, they can destroy it within days.
Last year my horseradish plants got hit hard by harlequin beetle. I saw them early and hand picked them from the plants for about a week. the plants looked great! then, I forgot and when I went to check on this hearty perennials the following week their greens were nothing but lace.
This image is from cooperativeextension.org but is pretty much exactly what happened on my horseradish plants last August.
Including pest management strategies in your annual garden plan is a must for 4-season gardening. Since we are articially elevating the temperature of the soil through the winter months, we provide an atttrative environment for harmful pests and disease.
You must invest in Agribon fabric to cover vulnerable plants during the warmer months. I also strongly encourage you to get a concentrate of an organic pesticide called Pyrethran. I have found, over the years, that these two strategies will eliminate about 80% of garden pests. The other 20%, like Japanese beetle, you simply need to pick off plants by hand and submerge in soapy water.
Be prepared for garden pests in advance. They’ll take advantage of every hour you give them without a barrier between their appetite and your plants!
Self Care for the 4-Season Gardner
Finally, let’s remember to care for the gardener!
It’s certainly true that a 4-season garden is as good as an annual gym membership. That outdoor enviroment can be hard on the skin. And all that heavy labor leaves muscles and lower backs sore.
Sunscreen, hats, soaps and lotions, and a good garden bench can make all the difference between your garden being a dream space or a nightmare!
While you are taking care of you body, use this morning meditaiton in your garden to care for the soul!
It’s all a part of the Seasonal Living Framework!
The seasonal living framework rests on 5 pillars: gardening, cooking, self-care, activism, and astrology. Learn all about it by clicking the image below and download the Seasonal Living Framework Workbook!
WANT TO REMEMBER THIS? SAVE IT TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!