The following article was written to be published this week in a newspaper of a nearby county. I thought TMG readers would enjoy it as well:
Knowing the cool days of fall are just ahead makes the heat and humidity of mid-summer more bearable. Fall is a great time to garden and these hot days of mid-summer are the time to plan and plant.
We’ve had some nice soaking rains lately making the soil in my mulched garden perfect for planting crops like snap beans and limas.
One of my favorite fall crops is Masai snap beans. They’re a bit shorter and bushier than say Blue Lake or Provider. They can have a dozen long, straight, beautiful beans hanging on the plant at one time. And they’re delicious!
Mine are just coming up, but you still have time to plant and have an excellent chance of bringing them to maturity since it only takes about 55 days from seedling to beans. They’ll bear until frost and if you can protect them with a tunnel of row cover fabric over hoops — you can have them even longer.
If you haven’t had rain and your soil is still dry —- try this. Throw a thick layer of straw (about 3 inches) on your planting area and then water deeply for at least 30 minutes. The straw will keep your soil from compacting. Wait a day, pull back the straw and plant your beans.
When you finish planting, I’d suggest covering the soil again with at least an inch of straw to keep the moisture in to hasten germination. Your beans will come right up through the straw.
Even with the rains, the garden soil is still a bit warm to direct sow some of the my favorite fall crops like lettuce, Russian Kale, Swiss Chard and delicious little Hakurei turnips. About 70 degrees is the optimum soil temperature for these to germinate.
I’ll start them in flats filled with moist grow mix out of direct sunlight in the shade of a tree. After planting I’ll put a “sprinkling” of straw on top to keep the soil moist and cool. (Yes, the seed will come up through the light layer of straw.)
If we have some unusually high temperatures I’ll bring the flats into my enclosed porch where it’s cooler until the seed germinates. After that I’ll put them outside in dappled shade again until they have a week or two to grow and then transplant them to the garden.
If you’re thinking of gardening, but have not yet prepared your garden beds or don’t have space— why not try growing something in containers.
I supplement my garden growing area with the really good grow bags that are made from a two layer fabric that is breathable and allows for good drainage. I’ve had excellent success with eggplant, peppers, potatoes and window box roma tomatoes using these bags.
Masai beans are perfect for container growing. Lettuce also does very well in containers. Varieties like Rouge D’Hiver, Winter Marvel, Little Gem and Bronze Arrowhead are some of the best lettuces for fall growing.
If you use containers that you can move easily and protect from frost you could harvest even longer.
I think the possibility of having fresh Masai beans for Thanksgiving and tender, young lettuce for Christmas dinner might be worth some experimenting. With thoughts like that you won’t even notice the few hot and humid days that remain.
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient — and a lot healthier.
All content including photos is copyright by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.