Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fall Planting Guide

This year's garden wasn't as big in square footage as some of our past gardens for a variety of reasons (big tree removal and a busy summer), but it was somewhat saved by a three row, late summer planting of beets, chard, and arugula.

I don't know how many of you like to eat boiled greens, and actually there should be a fancy French term that would make them sound better.  Boiled Greens.....if I didn't know that they were so good, I wouldn't have anything to do with them either.  What is so good about them, you might ask?  Well they are easy to grow, fresh, and full of vitamins, a good source of calcium and fiber.  And.....basically not fattening at all if you don't put a pound of butter on them.

There are a lot of crops that you can plant in the late summer/early fall that will give you another crop.  Most people look at you strangely if you tell them you just planted another row or two in your garden, and it is late August or early September.  But that is fine.  The weather is typically warm enough to allow the seeds to germinate quickly and to grow well, but not so hot that they plants get stressed from lack of water, or become strong flavored from the heat.  You won't get a second crop of sweet corn, or any watermelon etc, so don't even think about it.  You can get great crops of salad greens (lettuce, cabbage, arugula etc.), and boiled greens (verts bouillis..... as the FrAnch are fond of saying...) (chard, collard greens, beets, spinach, mustard greens etc.).  If you had known and planned well, or have a time machine, you could probably get a second crop of peas.  Onions will over winter...beets and chard will be very mild flavored from growing in cooler weather.  We have had chard overwinter, but it usually in the really cold weather.

Sometimes, in late summer or early fall the stores have moved the seeds to the back of their storage room, or have gotten rid of their stock of seeds completely.  This can be a frustration.  We get our seeds from Mountain Valley Seeds, and they are always ready to ship.  They ship all of their seeds in airtight mylar covered zip baggys, so they are protected from light and moisture.  If you keep them in a cool place the seeds will last for a long time.  Also, Mountain Valley ships in quantity if you want.  So if you think you will be eating a lot of one variety, or want to plant a small field, they are the ones to order from.

Here is a good guide to fall planting that you can save to your computer as a PDF or print or not.  Not only does it give you an idea of days to harvest, but also of frost tolerance and of other characteristics.  For instance, it shows that beets have a better flavor when grown in cool weather.  We have noticed that broccoli is mild and sweet when grown in cooler weather, and gets a really strong taste in the heat of the summer.  I haven't planted a late crop of broccoli, but we noticed that the second growth after the main harvest was always better tasting than the main crop.  I don't know if our plants were water deprived in the heat, or if it was the heat itself that gave it the strong taste, but the second growth was always better.

I guess that is about it for now.  Happy harvesting! 

1 comment:

Annie of Blue Gables said...

Your gardens are always wonderful! You are amazing to me.