Plant a Fall Vegetable Garden
by Holly Boettcher
I’ve been enjoying fresh vegetables from my garden all summer. I love to pick tender green beans to steam for dinner and my favorite treat is Caprese Salad with heirloom tomatoes that I started from seeds back in March.
Did you know August is the perfect time to plant certain vegetables to extend culinary joy into the late fall? I’m going to make sure I have plenty of delicious and nutritious hand-picked food through late autumn, even past some mild frost. Do you want to give it a try? Here are some tips to get you started.
Prepping the Soil:
Keep in mind that nutrients in the soil are possibly depleted from summer plants, so it is a good idea to do a soil test, then amend with compost or fertilizer. Cool weather plants will germinate quicker if you thoroughly water the soil then shade it from direct sun for a few days with straw or leaves. This will help cool it down before sowing seeds.
What to Plant:
Produce with edible roots and leaves are some of the best choices. Also consider garlic, which can be planted in the late fall for a spring harvest!
Kale, carrots, beets, arugula, Swiss chard, spinach, bush beans, summer squash (such as zucchini or patty pan), turnips, cilantro, collards, lettuce, radishes, and scallions are all great choices. Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower can be purchased from a garden center then transplanted with enough time to reach maturity. TIP: If you select cabbage or kale from the garden center, make sure you are not purchasing the ornamental varieties!
A good rule of thumb is to “count back” from the normal frost date, taking into consideration the days are getting shorter and temperatures are cooler, then add a few extra days to your calculation. Read labels to find varieties that require a shorter number of days till harvest, or search for seeds that are rated for a fall growing season. Be patient, because they will not grow as fast as in the warmer and longer days of spring.
Old sheets or hoops should be on stand-by and ready to cover if frost is predicted, although some vegetables like as carrots, beets, and kale are hardy enough to survive mild frost.
Many insects have completed their lifecycles, so vegetables grown in late season have the luxury of not safe from pests. But keep a close watch for corn ear worms and cabbage worms which could be a problem.
Where to buy seeds:
Garden centers are often sold out by this time of year, so I like to order heirloom seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Their website is www.rareseeds.com. They have quick turnaround time and you will find many interesting varieties which will be fun to grow and harvest.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get those seeds ordered, planted, and join me in the delight of growing your own vegetables this fall!