Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting Ready for Fall

I know... it's finally summertime, and here I am talking about fall already. As much as I enjoy living in the moment, there are some things that do require some advance planning if you want to do them well. For me, this means making the most of our summer gardening season, because I haven't had much success with winter gardening yet.

It's not hard to plan for fall crops, once you know your first frost date. Ours here usually falls somewhere between October 15-30, with some lighter frosts leading up to a killing freeze. If you don't know your frost dates offhand, go here and punch in your zip code.

Once you have a date to work with, grab a calendar and count backwards to today's date. Alternatively, you can use a countdown calculator online and punch in the dates. Using October 26 as my target date, the countdown tells me that there are 107 days left in my growing season- and that's plenty of time to get in a few more cool-season crops before putting the garden to bed for the winter.

Now, it's time to get out the seed packets. There are a lot of plants out there that mature in under 100 days, so there are plenty of things to choose from. If you aren't sure where to start, check out one of our affiliate links- both Botanical Interests and The Cook's Garden have plenty of seeds that will take you through to fall.

Here's a short list of plants to try: Arugula, Beans, Beets, Bok Choi, Broccoli/Broccoli Raab, Carrot, Kale, Kohlrabi, most Lettuces, Mustard, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Swiss Chard, and Turnips. Each of these will mature in under 100 days, except the parsnip, which ranges from 100-120 days- but it can stay in the ground all winter.

I found this Fast Food Seed Collection while I was looking up plants to suggest- it's a collection of veggies that all mature in under 50 days. Beans, beets, broccoli raab, lettuce, radishes, spinach and an early summer squash- they look great! I wouldn't have thought to include summer squash, but that's because I always plant more than enough early in the season, so I can dehydrate a bunch for winter use. (I still haven't finished my stash from last year. I need to hurry!)

Fall is also prime time to get some garlic in the ground. I've tried a few times, without success, to grow garlic as a spring planting... it just doesn't work. I mean, it will grow, but you're not going to get anything substantial come harvest time. I'm digging mine up this week to dry out the bulbs, and will be replanting them come October.

So, what are you thinking about planting for fall harvest? Stop on by the FB page, and let me know!

PS: It's Day Four of the Food Summit! If you haven't registered yet, DO IT NOW just so you can listen to Joel Salatin. Click here for the handy shortcut.

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