Saturday, August 3, 2013

Planning and planting the fall garden

Let me begin by saying that it's hard to think about planning for a fall harvest when one hasn't gleaned at least one ripe tomato from the summer garden.  The summer garden was planted later than I had hoped.  Although we have lots and lots of beans to enjoy and share, the cucumbers are just now picking up steam, and the other vegetables are slowly catching up.

What to plant?  The heat of the summer is now starting its transition toward cooler nights.  This is perfect for many root vegetables such as carrots and rutabaga.  this is also good news for leafy greens such as spinach.  If you do decide to plant a few leafies however, do keep to mind that when cool turns to cold, take care to cover the plants with sheets or row covers to protect them from the frost.  when do correctly, the ground heat will keep the plants warm while the cover will hold the warmth close to the plants like a welcoming blanket.
baby pumpkin
A few plants welcome the cooler weather.  Among them are those in the cabbage family such as cauliflower and broccoli.  Kohlrabi and rutabagas are some others that thrive in the cooler temps.  Although you may need to protect them from the frost, leafy greens such as spinach is also works well if planted for a fall harvest.
As much as we would like to plant some winter squash, some varieties can take over 100 days to mature and produce.  Unless you live in an area that is prone to a late freeze date, it may be too late for that thought (but there is always next year!).  Read the information tag on the seed or seedling's package for maturity dates.  For a little extra help, visit Mother Earth News and check out their planning guide

Don't forget the summer garden.  As I was taking care of other business, I missed picking a few cucumbers only to discover a few days later that they had transitioned from gherkins to footballs.  Fortunately these are a variety to stay tender no matter how large they are.
 Life outside is not without a few surprises.  While adding a bit more to the compost pile, I noted that we have a volunteer coming up.  I don't know yet what kind of squash this may be.  Since we feed our girls all sorts of vegetables, it's anyone's guess what this will be.  All I can say with certainity is that it is growing strong with its feet deep in the warm nutritious compost at the bottom of the pile.

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