After a disappointing year in the garden I was ready to throw in the towel. It had been too cool , my soil was less than optimal, and my bed placement could have better. However I had talking to a friend who had set up a "square foot garden" raised bed in his backyard, but not gotten it done until July. I suggested trying a fall/winter planting. I did this last year with a VERY simple cold frame setup and had fairly good success. As I was talking to him I felt the spark of the gardener flare up.
Year round gardening is nothing new but has fallen out of favor in a society where you can get any produce regardless of season. Elliot Coleman has written several books on the subject. Four Seasons Harvest is the only one I have but it is a wealth of knowledge on the subject. The premise is, that with a simple covering, crops can survive in winter, allowing you to have fresh lettuce in January. Last year all I used was some polyethylene painters plastic draped over a support. With this I was able to grow a nice crop of lettuce, leeks, carrots ,and garlic. Crops will take longer to mature because of the shortened days but it works.
This is my latest, upgraded cold frame. I was once again blessed by the goddess Refusa with some double hung windows destined for the landfill. With the push to upgrade the windows in most homes you can get these anywhere. Check curbs and you can score big. I added hinges and some leftover clothes line to make harvesting a snap.
Don't be afraid to try a winter garden. It can be a lot of fun.