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Fall does not mean the end of your beloved vegetable garden

Thursday, September 17th 2020, 2:52 pm - Professional advice on how to keep your vegetable garden growing year-round

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 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.

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