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8/15/2012

Fall Gardens - It's Not Too Late to Plant

Another crop of zinnias can still be planted in August for late blooming.

Recent rains have dusted off the gardening spirit and renewed hope for a better harvest. It’s not too late to plant a variety of fall crops and still expect some fresh produce from your back yard.

Just a few weeks ago the seed that had been planted, withered in the soil before even getting above the ground. Now that we’re having some cooler days and there’s moisture in the soil, seed will germinate and grow rapidly.
Late summer garden.

This week I’ve been planting peas, both snap peas and regular shelling peas. If we have a late fall, even a light frost, the peas should produce a crop. One year I planted even later than this and mulched the plants with straw where they wintered over and started blooming in early March. And if the crop fails? I’ll till the plants under to help build up the soil.

Lettuce, radishes, spinach and kale can all be planted in August. Kale will easily winter over and the leaves are especially sweet and tasty in the cold months. Winter spinach, also, is at its best in the chilly season. Last year a fall planting of lettuce thrived throughout the winter and was still producing leaves in April. Many lettuces will withstand more cold than you might guess.

I’m planning on planting beets, as well, as they’re another crop that will withstand some cold. Young beets, cooked with the green tops, are worth the effort of a few minutes of planting time. Snap green beans and carrots can still be planted now, too. While many gardeners like to plant turnips in July, I never get the seed in the ground until mid to late August and always have a good crop. Last year I planted the regular purple-top turnips, along with some mild white ones and some bright red ones I found at Baker Creek Seed (rareseed.com). They all overwintered quite easily and I was still eating turnips in the spring.
These lettuces lived right through last winter and were still producing in April!

If you can find cabbage or cauliflower plants, those might produce provided we have a long, mild fall. If they aren’t ready by the first hard freeze, cover them during the night and help them along with some clear plastic. You’ll have to uncover them in the daytime, but those crops will withstand a lot of cold weather.

An added bonus for fall gardening is the lack of insect pests. Many bugs time their life cycles to the time when summer plants are at their best. Late season plantings avoids both the pests and the headaches of earlier in the year.

Visit my other blogs for more about my gardening adventures.

1 comment:

Marideth Sisco said...

Hi, Jim. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm actually expanding my garden area so as to plant more things for fall and winter. The regular garden is full of winter squash, tomatoes, okra and a fall canning crop of green beans. I was so proud until I realized I'd left no room for beets, broccoli, kale and the like. So - how does my garden grow? Bigger, right now.