Like so many other Canadians, I started a 'pandemic garden' at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, all in an effort to limit my grocery store visits. With plenty of sunshine this summer in Atlantic Canada, I was eating lettuce like it was my job (I can still taste the succulent lettuce from my Korean barbecues)!
However, now that fall is underway, am I supposed to just let all my hard work (a.k.a my mini jungle) fall by the wayside?
Not if Niki Jabbour has anything to do with it!
See, Jabbour knows a thing or two about year-round vegetable gardening. In fact, she wrote a book on it, aptly titled "The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener." Sales of the book doubled in 2020 with so many new gardeners sprouting up.
Her first tip for fall gardening -- build a cold frame.
"A cold frame is just a bottomless box with a clear top so it captures solar energy and creates a microclimate around your vegetables," says Jabbour. "It's such a great way, even in a small urban garden, to extend your season."
Niki Jabbour's vegetable garden. Courtesy: Nathan Coleman
If you use this technique, Jabbour says you can harvest carrots into February.
Tip number two -- always be on the lookout for frost in the forecast.
"One of the most important things you need to do as a gardener at this time of year is stay tuned to The Weather Network," she says. "I check the forecast everyday just in case the temperatures are going to drop at night, and check if there's going to be a frost -- and if there [is], I run up to cover my tender vegetables."
Her third tip -- make sure you harvest all your summer vegetables.
"They're at the tail end of the season, but make sure you harvest things like tomatoes very quickly after [it] rain[‘s] because they tend to split from all that moisture," she explains. "I'm up here every couple days, especially if we've had a rain[storm], picking the cherry tomatoes and all the large fruited tomatoes."
Jabbour's next book, due out in December, focuses on growing under covers.
"We had a greenhouse boom. There are so many backyard gardeners that put in D.I.Y. greenhouses, they bought poly tunnels, they made domes, geodesic domes. So there's a lot of food gardeners here in the Maritimes and a lot of them are growing under cover now as well."
Be sure to watch the video above for Nathan Coleman's full discussion with Niki Jabbour.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published in September 2020.