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

both around the plants and in the soil.

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 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.

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 circulation around the plants is important to prevent disease—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
On Sale 10%

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,...
  • Days to maturity: 90
  • Spacing: 15-18
  • Planting depth: 1.5-2
Vpe 4790pea aldermanpod wood+ridge+blog t+he+aldermans+came+to+dinner +woodridge.wordpress
On Sale 10%

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 ...
  • Days to maturity: 70-78
  • Seeds per packet: 160
  • Spacing: 3
Vto 5740 tomato amish paste web2
On Sale 10%

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,...
  • Days to maturity: 69-80
  • Spacing: 24
  • Seed code: N
Bean+resilient
On Sale 10%

Beefy Resilient Grex Dry Bean, Organic, OSSI

Phenomenally productivebean that matures well in cooler areas. Cooks quickly, with delicious meaty, beefy flavor. Easy to thresh. Beautiful mix of small blac...
  • Variety code: Ossi
  • Days to maturity: 75
  • Germination days: 8-16
Vsq 5410 black beauty
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Days to maturity: 54
  • Spacing: 15-18
  • Planting depth: 1.5-2
Vto 5770 tomato black+krim photo+bill+bruneau bountiful+gardens
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Days to maturity: 69-80
  • Spacing: 24
  • When to plant: Early summer
Bean+blue+lake
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Days to maturity: 55
  • When to plant: After danger of frost
  • Germination days: 8-16
Lettuce+bronze+goldring
On Sale 10%

Bronze Goldring Romaine (Cos) Lettuce, Organic

Widely recognized as the very best-tastingromaine lettuce, this old English heirloom has never gotten the popularity it deserves. We are hoping that gardener...
  • Spacing: 10-12
  • Days to maturity: 60
  • Germination days: 2-15
Squash+buttercup
On Sale 10%

Buttercup Squash, organic

The standard of excellence for winter squash-deep orange, dry, flaky, and very sweet. Good in cool climates.Develops its sweetness early, so while the inevit...
  • Days to maturity: 95
  • Spacing: 15-18
  • Planting depth: 1.5-2
Vbe 2184
On Sale 10%

Calypso ( Yin-Yang, Orca) Dry Bean

 We are so tickled to offer these popular beans, which look just like a yin-yang symbol, even down to the little dot! Mild flavor and almost potato-like text...
  • Days to maturity: 75-90
  • When to plant: After danger of frost
  • Germination days: 8-16
Carrot+mix
On Sale 10%

Carrot Mix

Carrots of many sizes and colors for your entertainment and delectation. BOTANICAL NAME: Daucus carotaGROWING INSTRUCTIONS: Sow seed 3" apart or broadcast ...
  • Germination days: 8-21
  • Seeds per packet: 800
  • Days to maturity: 85
Corn+cascade+ruby gold
On Sale 10%

Cascade Ruby-Gold Flint Corn, Organic

Bred by Carol Deppe to be the ultimate survival crop, the one you would choose if you could have only one variety to get you through good times and bad. Very...
  • Variety code: Ossi
  • Days to maturity: 85
  • Planting depth: 1-2
Vpe 4825 marysveggiegard lb
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Seeds per packet: 250
  • Spacing: 3
  • When to plant: Late summer
Squash+costata+romanesca
On Sale 10%

Costata Romanesca Zucchini, Organic

If you have ever wondered what a traditional Italian zucchini was like before it became an American supermarket staple, try Costata and find out. Famous for ...
  • Days to maturity: 58
  • Spacing: 15-18
  • Planting depth: 1.5-2
Favas+with+quarter
On Sale 10%

D'Aquadulce a Tres Longue Cosse Fava Bean

Best flavor, but not as hardy as smaller types Strong, upright plants to 3' are grown like peas. Overwinters in zones 8-10Heirloom from before 1885.Bears 7-8...
  • Days to maturity: 85
  • Spacing: 8
  • Planting depth: 1-2
Greens+dragon+tongue blended
On Sale 10%

Dragon Tongue Mustard, Organic, OSSI

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...
  • Days to maturity: 35-50
  • Variety code: Ossi
  • Germination days: 9-12
Vbr 2560 broccoli purple sprouting web
On Sale 10%

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 ...
  • Days to maturity: 120-200
  • Germination days: 5-17
  • Seeds per packet: 80
Lettuce emerald fan for real web
On Sale 10%

Emerald Fan Looseleaf Lettuce, Organic, OSSI

The fastest spring growth of any lettuce we have ever grown. Perfect "scoops" for dip. Big, healthy, deep-green leaves catch spring sunlight and make it into...
  • Days to maturity: 45
  • Spacing: 8-9
  • Germination days: 2-15
Ven 3572 frisee web
On Sale 10%

Frisee Endive, organic

A heirloom triple-cut curly endive from France. This is the feathery, finely-branched pale leaf you see in salad mix in winter. Grows like lettuce but more s...
  • Seeds per packet: 180
  • Days to maturity: 60
  • Germination days: 2-15
Glacier
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Days to maturity: Less than 60
  • Spacing: 24
  • When to plant: Early summer
Cabbage  jan+king
On Sale 10%

January King Savoy Cabbage

From 1885, famous winter cabbage and one of the hardiest-survives all winter in zone 7. Solid, flat, light green heads weigh 3-5 lbs. heart is more tender th...
  • Days to maturity: 100-160
  • Germination days: 6-12
  • Seeds per packet: 85
Vka 3910 jamie+pics+october+2010+192
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Seeds per packet: 85
  • Days to maturity: 50-60
  • Planting depth: 1/4-1/2
Corn+magic+manna
On Sale 10%

Magic Manna Flour Corn

Bred for earliness, vigor, and resilience, as well as flavor and cooking characteristics. Solid colored ears of three basic colors—deep-red, tan, or white/pe...
  • Variety code: Ossi
  • Days to maturity: 85
  • Planting depth: 1-2
Vle 4273 lettuce merlot brighter web
On Sale 10%

Merlot Looseleaf Lettuce, Organic

Darkest red of all lettuces-deep purple in bright sun-and highest in anti-oxidant anthocyanins. Shiny curly leaves have complete resistance to downy mildew r...
  • Days to maturity: 30-59
  • When to plant: Winter
  • Spacing: 8-9
Vgr 3670 mizuna web
On Sale 10%

Mizuna Asian Greens

Mild, feathery green is a major part of almost all salad mixes. Vigorous plants grow quickly to 12-24" and 2-4 pounds. Or cut when 3-4" for salad mix (28 day...
  • Days to maturity: 40-65
  • Spacing: 10
  • Seeds per packet: 80
Mch 6280  chards rainbow web
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Spacing: 8
  • Days to maturity: 50-60
  • Seeds per packet: 50
Vca 2760 rdrumhead
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Days to maturity: 74-95
  • Germination days: 6-12
  • Seeds per packet: 85
Carrot+nantes+farmers+market
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Days to maturity: 68
  • Seeds per packet: 800
  • Germination days: 6-21
Bean+scarlet+runner
On Sale 10%

Scarlet Runner Bean

Traditional pole runner with brilliant red edible flowers that attract hummingbirds. Beautiful climbing on a fence or trellis. Likes a cool, damp climate--pe...
  • Spacing: 1
  • Days to maturity: 70-90
  • Seeds per packet: 35
Broccoli+solstice
On Sale 10%

Solstice Broccoli, Organic, OSSI

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...
  • Days to maturity: 45-84
  • Germination days: 5-17
  • When to plant: Late summer
Vto 5730 tomato stupice web
On Sale 10%

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...
  • Days to maturity: Less than 60
  • Spacing: 24
  • Seed code: N
Vco 3347
On Sale 10%

Top Hat Sweet Corn, Organic

A new yellow sweet corn from Oregon farmer/breeder Jonathan Spero of Lupine Knoll Farm. Top Hat was a favorite in our trial this year, with well-filled, plum...
  • Days to maturity: 82
  • Planting depth: 1-2
  • When to plant: Mid-summer
Kale+white+russ
On Sale 10%

White Russian Kale, Organic

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...
  • Spacing: 12"
  • Planting depth: 1/4"
  • Days to maturity: 50-60
Lettuce+winter+density
On Sale 10%

Winter Density Romain Lettuce Organic

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...
  • Seed code: Organic
  • When to plant: Winter
  • Spacing: 10-12