Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Plan now for fall harvest

By now many vegetable gardens have gaps… places where early season crops such as lettuce, peas, beets and other quick maturing crops have come and gone. If you like the idea of broccoli on Columbus Day, cauliflower at Thanksgiving and home grown carrots at Christmas you’ll need to make preparations now. Hey, maybe you are a slow starter and are just now getting around to breaking garden ground. In any event, there is plenty of growing season left in 2008.
Many of our favorite vegetables are cool or cold tolerant. Frost and even a hard freeze are not a problem. It’s true that growth slows during cool, short days of fall, but if those plants have had a good head start you will be rewarded.

So, take a look at your seed inventory, visit garden centers or jump on-line for seeds of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, leafy greens and other cool tolerant crops. Then get those garden areas worked up, fertilized and seeded. You will also see transplants of the cabbage family crops showing up in better garden centers about now. Obviously, with transplants you can start later…into mid August.

One of the beauties of fall gardens is that crops “hold” well. Broccoli heading in June has a short life. Broccoli heading in October will hold tight for a long time. Same with cauliflower. Brussels sprouts anyone? The root crops (beets carrots) are also great fall vegetables. Leave those carrots in the ground after the tops die down and much with straw. Then go digging at Christmas and see what you’ve got. They make great stocking stuffers.

Maybe I’m nuts to be thinking about fall frost when it is 98 degrees but let’s see who’s laughing in October when the harvest is on. For a Penn State has a great fact sheet on growing leafy greens. Check it out.

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