In spite of the warm weather ahead it’s time to think about the fall and winter garden. What I’m planning for mine will help remind you and give you some ideas on what’s possible for your garden in the fall.
Soon, buckwheat will go into some of the garden beds that are empty. It’s my favorite cover crop and is such a help in adding organic matter to the soil.
It should bloom in about 6 weeks. I’ll let it bloom for the pollinators and beneficials and cut it before it seeds. I’ll then turn the top growth under. It’ll decompose before I plant any fall vegetables.
Other beds (that now contain crops) I’ll plant with buckwheat in late summer. The first frost should kill it. Leaving the frost-killed growth will protect the soil in those beds over the winter and add organic matter.
I had a few seed potatoes left over from the spring and am going to plant them this week. I think I’ll have just enough time to get “new” potatoes again in the fall. If not, they’ll be the first ones to give me potatoes next year. So it’s a winning idea either way.
I try not to plant more than I can handle. Since other crops take my allotted time in the spring, I wait until mid-June to plant beans. I plant small sections every week or so through the first week in September. Once in a while the cold will keep my last planting from reaching maturity, but it’s worth the risk. I always have at least a 50-50 chance of getting beans.
Depending on the Weather
If it’s not too hot and dry in August I’ll plant lettuce, radishes, Hakurei turnips, and various greens including my favorite winter green — spinach. (The cold makes it very sweet!) If the weather doesn’t cooperate I’ll plant in September.
When the severe cold comes, I’ll be ready with my makeshift cold frames to put over anything that would freeze.
Other Fall Crops
I’ve had many gardeners tell me they really enjoy growing broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and carrots for fall crops. Less bugs!
Haven’t decided if I’ll plant garlic this year. If I do, I’ll plant in October or November.
As always, some of my onions finished very small. I usually leave those in the ground and let them surprise me with spring onions in late winter or early spring. This year I cured some. I’ll plant them in a small bed in the fall. That way I’ll know exactly where my green onions are going to come up.
Keep in mind that this won’t work if you planted sets.
I’ve got all I need for winter so won’t plant a fall crop.
I’ll seed more parsley now and plant where I can protect it from extreme cold this winter with a cold frame. That way, I’ll have it early spring and won’t have to wait.
Things to Keep in Mind
- When you plan for your fall crops, stay away from spots that you know to be prone to early frost. Look for areas that get the most sun in winter.
- When you choose your varieties, choose ones suited for fall and winter. For example, some lettuces (like Winter Density) do much better in the winter than others.
Planning Your Start Date
The key to growing vegetables for fall harvest is timing.
Fall has shorter days, cooling soil and less intense sunshine. Because of these differences, you have to allow about 14 extra days for crops to mature.
- Determine your average frost date.
- Look at the seed packet to find days to maturity and add 14 days.
- Calculate back from the frost date to get the date you’ll start your seed.
For example -Let’s say the frost date is October 15. If the vegetable takes 60 days to mature plus the 14 days you need for slower growth in the fall, you’ll need a total of 74 days before frost. Thus, you need to plant that particular vegetable by August 3rd or before.
Little Bit by Little Bit — But Planning is the Key
If you’re like me, you want those fresh vegetables coming in as long into the year as possible. They make a big difference at meal times. By planning now, it’ll be easy to schedule in the actual work little by little as you go along. The pay off is great!
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