4 Crops You Can Grow Year-Round Almost Anywhere

Consistency at farmers markets or in CSAs strengthens your customer base. Here are crops that help you achieve that all year.

by Jesse Frost
PHOTO: Shutterstock

If you sell a lot of your produce to restaurants who appreciate consistency or if you are just a gardener trying to adhere to a particular diet, several crops are reliable year-round, as long as they get the proper care, preparation and (in some cases) storage.

It might take some practice, but the more consistent produce you can grow, the more it will pay off. Your customer base will become more solidified, making customers more likely to buy other crops from you because they are accustomed to seeing you every week unlike other growers who they might see only in the summer.

Today I will give you four potential year-round crops, though your region might allow for more. In the North, kale or arugula might be a great year-round option whereas it would be harder in the South. You have a lot of potential here, as long as you match your varieties with your infrastructure (greenhouses, storage and so on) and your climate.

1. Lettuce

The hard part with lettuce (shown above) is not the fall, spring or even winter. For many of us, the summer is the biggest obstacle to growing lettuce year round. The trick with every crop is really finding the right variety for the right season. Several heat-tolerant and cold-hardy lettuce varieties exist that can help get you through those rough patches. Also consider proper growing conditions—in the winter you might need some row cover to keep the plants a few degrees warmer. In the summer you might want a little shade to start and a lot of regular watering and or misting to cool them down when the heat rises. With regular successions and a little practice, lettuce is one of the easier year-round crops.

2. Carrots

growing carrots in containers
Jessica Walliser

Your climate and soil conditions determine how you manage carrots. However, if you can grow carrots at any point in the year, you can grow carrots all year. What I mean is that, if your summers are just too hot (as they might be in the deep South) or winters too cold (as they might be it the North), it might be a good idea to grow a bulk storage carrot when conditions are prime to keep over the period when conditions are less conducive. So in the spring you might grow a few extra beds or rows to keep in your cooler throughout the summer until the soil is ripe to sow again.

3. Onions

onion onions
Alice Hennemen/Flickr

Some form of onion or another can and should be available year-round. For the late winter and spring, it is nice to have green onions while your bulb onions mature. Then bulb onions, if grown and stored well, can last you the rest of the year. As with all crops, it might take some dialing in, but onions can be an excellent and relatively easy crop to have year-round at market or just in the pantry.

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4. Beets

Tim Sackton/Flickr

Beets are similar to carrots, in that if beets just don’t want to perform during a certain time of year (mainly midsummer and midwinter) grow them right up until that point then consider keeping some in your cooler until conditions are better. You can extend the beet season well into the fall and early winter with a little row cover. Summer beets grow really well in a tunnel in the summer as long as that tunnel is very well ventilated. The plastic adds just enough shade to take some of the intensity down. Again, variety is important, and of course, as with everything, practice goes far toward perfecting your method.

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