Pushing the Season

George Knowles is tempted to plant frost hardy vegetables early.

May 6, 2010 | | Leisure

Lettuce is a natural first choice for planting early. Eliot Coleman wrote a book called “Four Season Harvest”. Our copy is dog-eared from use and Coleman’s encouragement to grow vegetables year-round is compelling.

Even with a warmer-than-normal spring, it is tempting to plant frost hardy vegetables as soon as the soil is workable… for bragging rights as well as for wonderful lettuce.

And lettuce is a natural first choice for planting in late March.

Coleman explains many techniques to produce vegetables early and how to continue producing well into late autumn.

He uses hoop houses as well as cold frames.

My modest efforts include covering early garden crops with a wire cage (4-foot sections of welded wire fence that have been bent around a telephone pole or tree to form a semicircular hoop and covered with non-woven scrim) or the raised-bed cover shown below.

I plant Mesclun (five or six varieties of greens) and Red Sails lettuce.

To date the record is a last harvest of greens on December 18th in 2008, when early snow fell over the covered lettuce and provided protection from six or seven degrees of frost.

This year? We’ll see when the first non-Zehrs’ salad is ready to be put on the table.

I’m guessing June 1st.


“Four-Season Harvest” (1999)
Eliot Coleman
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
White River Junction, Vermont
ISBN 1-890132-27-6
Order this at Booklore.

About the Author More by George Knowles

George Knowles gardens at Larkspur Hollow in the Hockley Valley.

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