While most people might huddle indoors to ride out a snowstorm, Alpine resident Caleb Warnock could likely be in his geothermal greenhouse, picking fresh peas for dinner. A newspaper journalist and bestselling author, Warnock says you can easily grow fresh vegetables in the dead of winter, just like your great-great grandparents did.
Best of all, you don’t need your own greenhouse, fancy tools or advanced gardening skills to get started. “Anyone can garden in the winter without artificial heat or electricity, just the way families fed themselves for centuries,” Warnock said.
Warnock is the author of “Backyard Winter Gardening,” which was published by Springville-based Cedar Fort earlier this year. It’s a follow-up to his nationally best-selling book “The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency Used by the Mormon Pioneers,” (Cedar Fort, 2011).
If you’d like to start growing food in the winter, now is an ideal time to start planning. Warnock says to get started you need a cloche, or protective cover to shield plants from the cold. (Glass bowls purchased at a thrift store for a few dollars can make great cloches, he said.) More involved gardeners can use anything from natural-heat hot beds to a geothermal greenhouse like the one Warnock has.
The right seeds are crucial for success as well. Many winter vegetable varieties used for centuries are now almost extinct, largely because most people abandoned winter gardening after World War II. Warnock says he has searched seedbanks and catalogues worldwide for the right seeds for winter gardening. For example, he worked with the federal government to find a hardy winter onion seed at a Netherlands seed bank, and says he is now the only grower of this onion in the United States and Europe. (He sells seeds on the website SeedRenaissance.com.)
Cedar Fort publicist Rodney Fife said “Backyard Winter Gardening” has been in the top 5 of the company’s lineup for six months. “We felt this wonderful book would impact the life of gardeners and hobbyists alike,” he said.
Winter gardening is much, much easier than people imagine it to be, once you have the right tools, said Warnock. He added it’s a forgotten skill that, once learned, can bring lasting security. “In an economy like this, there is tremendous peace of mind knowing from experience that you can feed your family from your backyard 365 days a year.”