The Priority here is to ensure enough air and warmth--

both around the plants and in the soil.

To warm your soil, plant on mounds, scooping soil up from the paths to make your beds higher. The more drainage you have, the warmer your soil will be. If you live in a truly cold-summer climate, like Alaska, you should use narrower beds so they can warm up faster. Instead of a regular 4’ or 5’ wide bed, try making them 2 ft wide. Research in Alaska showed a real increase in plant growth in beds 28” wide or less.

Hot beds are an ancient soil-warming technique still well worth learning. Simply dig out a sunken area 4’ and at least 4’ long. (Or just enclose this area with old boards.) This size is needed to create enough mass for heat to build up. In this pit, build a compost pile—heap up any organic debris that will rot and heat up. Horse manure was the standard hotbed fuel before everyone got cars. Weeds, grass clippings, straw, household garbage, seaweed, shredded leaves—all can be used. Make sure it is moist, and stack it 2-3 ft high. Over this put a 6” to 8” layer of soil, which you plant into. If a cold frame or clear tent encloses the space, it will work even better.

Air in the soil is particularly needed in a high rainfall climate. Raindrops actually compact the soil as they strike over and over. Once soil is compacted, you need to fork it over to fluff it up. If you leave a thick organic mulch on it all winter the earthworms will fluff it for you.Heavy winter mulches also prevent erosion and frost heaving, but you will want to pull it off in spring so the sun can warm the soil up.Adding compost will lighten the soil texture and allow both air and biological activity to warm things up.

To ensure heat around the plants, there are numerous forms of shelter: greenhouses, hoophouses, row covers, and our favorite, cold frames. (They are portable, have little disease buildup, work well with hotbeds, and are not plastic.)

Air around the plants is equally important—in wet cold climates, use wider spacings. Plants stay in vegetative growth longer in cool weather and will get bigger. They need air circulation all around them to prevent fungus diseases. So use spacing from 1½ to 2 times what is normally recommended.
Resources:
Gardening for Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour
Salad Leaves for All Seasons by Charles Dowding
Sepp Holtzer’s Permaculture by Sepp Holtzer
The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk
The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe
Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening

Popular This Season:
Vsq 5430acornsq

Acorn, Ebony (Table Queen) Squash, Organic

(1913) Very early with short bushy vines. Acorn-shaped, ribbed fruits dark-green 1-2 lbs. Small seed cavity. Fine-textured flesh that is tender, sweet nutty,...
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Vpe 4790pea aldermanpod wood+ridge+blog t+he+aldermans+came+to+dinner +woodridge.wordpress

Alderman Pole Shelling Pea

English heirloom, and we think the finest tall variety under cultivation. Famous for flavor and crops very well. Robust 5' vines bear pointed, easy-shelling ...
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Amish Paste Tomato

Outstanding flavor raw as well as cooked--selected for the Slow Food Ark of Taste. Meaty long red fruits from August til frost on vigorous vines. Mid-season,...
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Beefy Resilient Grex Dry Bean

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Vsq 5410 black beauty

Black Beauty Zucchini, organic

Bush. Popular heirloom zucchini for home gardens for many years. This does not have the drought-or-cold-resistance of Dark Star, but it is dependable and tas...
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Vto 5770 tomato black+krim photo+bill+bruneau bountiful+gardens

Black Krim Tomato

Luscious Russian heirloom, very juicy, with that indescribable smoky black tomato flavor at its best. Midseason, but requires less heat for ripening than oth...
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Blue Lake Bush Green Bean, Organic

Pacific Northwest heirloom, well-adapted to cooler summers. Many gardeners have been distressed to find that their Blue Lake pole beans didn't do well the pa...
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Bronze Goldring Romaine (Cos) Lettuce

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Buttercup Squash, organic

Vine. The standard of excellence for winter squash-deep orange, dry, flaky, and very sweet.Develops its sweetness early, so while the inevitable unripe squas...
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Vbe 2184

Calypso ( Yin-Yang, Orca) Dry Bean

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Carrot+mix

Carrot Mix

Carrots of many sizesand colors for your entertainment and delectation. BOTANICAL NAME: Daucus carotaGROWING INSTRUCTIONS: Sow seed 3" apart or broadcast c...
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Cascade Ruby-Gold Flint Corn

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Cascadia Pea

First dwarf snap pea with Sugar Snap quality, and then some. Extra-plump, very crisp, very sweet and flavorful pods. Resistant to PM and the first pea with r...
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Costata Romanesca Zucchini

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D'Aquadulce a Tres Longue Cosse Fava Bean

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Greens+dragon+tongue blended

Dragon Tongue Mustard

Very sweet mustard flavor, and a pinch of heat. Wide crunchy midribs. Last mustard to bolt in spring. Outstanding new salad/cooking green from wizard Frank M...
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Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Outstanding sweet flavor and tender texture. The most ancient type of broccoli, renowned for flavor and superior nutritional value. These need to go through ...
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Emerald Fan Looseleaf Lettuce, Organic

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Frisee Endive, organic

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Glacier Tomato, organic

The best flavor of any extra-early tomato we've tried. This very early tomato produces attractive orangey-red 2 1/2" fruit. Bears over a long season. Perfect...
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Hungarian Pink Winter Butterhead Lettuce

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January King Savoy Cabbage

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Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale, Organic

Italian heirloom-a best-seller with great looks and flavor. Delicious dark blue-green leaves, heavily savoyed (like dinosaur skin). Milder and more tender th...
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Magic Manna Flour Corn

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Mizuna Asian Greens

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Oregon Giant (edible pod) Snowpea, organic

Truly huge pods have  outstanding flavor, and keep their sweetness and tenderness longer than any pea we know. Sweet flavor raw or cooked. The peas inside th...
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Rainbow Chard Mix, Organic

Beautiful in planters and flower beds, nice cut young for salads. Red, yellow, pink, purple, white, and orange. BOTANICAL NAME: Beta vulgaris GROWING INSTRUC...
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Red Drumhead Cabbage

A very special heirloom red cabbage, hard to find in the US, with excellent flavor and a good keeper. Deep purple color is not lost in cooking or pickling. S...
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Scarlet Nantes Carrot

Sweet, brittle, aromatic flesh-a spring treat. Blunt, finger-shaped roots 7" long with outstanding raw flavor. Easy to grow, fast, and classic. You don't usu...
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Scarlet Runner Bean

Traditional pole runner with brilliant red edible flowers that attract hummingbirds. Beautiful climbing on a fence or trellis. Large beans with a unique flav...
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Broccoli+solstice

Solstice Broccoli, Organic

Ready very early and produces for a long time. Heads are on long stems above the foliage-easy to see and harvest and safer from slugs and snails. Small org...
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Stupice Tomato

Earliest tomato of all in our trials, and the most tolerant of really bad conditions. Unusually adaptable--if you haven't been able to grow tomatoes, this is...
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Top Hat Sweet Corn, Organic

A new yellow sweet corn from Oregon farmer/breeder Jonathan Spero of Lupine Knoll Farm. Away from the corn belt, he is growing non-GMO, non-hybird corns for ...
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White Russian Kale

The most winter-hardy kale we offer, to zone 4.And the most resistant to flooding and soggy soils. Has won many taste tests in spite of its tough constitutio...
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Winter Density Romaine (Cos) Lettuce

Sweet-flavored lettuce with large, heavy, dark-green heads 9-10" high. Much used for autumn sowing. Slow to bolt. A Romaine with dense crunchy hearts like an...
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