Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fall Garden

A well planned Fall garden can be as productive as your Summer garden and can provide fresh veggies, even after the frost and cold sets in.


Many varieties of pumpkin and squash will be ready to harvest but, in my case would have been planted earlier in the year. I'm in Zone 6. You will have to adjust for your zone or climate.

By knowing what zone you are in and what your first frost date is you can choose the best fall plants and varieties of those plants for your area. Some varieties mature in a shorter time and these are best if your temperatures dip drastically and/or very quickly. 



Succession planting, also known as relay planting, keeps your garden producing for the longest period of time possible by replacing crops that are finished producing with another crop.

           
                                                                                                                                                     

 The list of fall garden favorites goes on and on and for the gardener that likes to experiment you could create a new list for years and not get to them all. With some help I picked a few to share today. 
 Garlic has to be first on my list. I use it in so many dishes that buying it is unrealistic. Easy to plant and grow, few pests and low maintenance, it's always a winner. Buy your heads of garlic from a trusted organic source if possible, but honestly most from the local grocer will also grow. To plant garlic:  Gently break into separate cloves, choosing the largest cloves to plant and saving any small ones for cooking. Choose your planting spot and turn in compost to about 3-4 inches deep. Plant each clove about 2 inches deep and 4 inches apart. Mulching with straw will help protect them from freezing, keeps weeds down in spring and help retain moisture. Garlic is ready to harvest (here mid-summer) when some of the the leaves start to brown. The 'flower' that it sends up in spring is called a Scape, and can be trimmed off and used like garlic in recipes. Garlic also has many health benefits and can aid in keeping pests out of your garden. 

Onions come next on my list, again because of how many we use. There are several varieties, so choose something that grows well in your area and fits your needs. To plant onions: onion sets should be planted 1 inch deep and 4-5 inches apart in a rich, well drained area that gets full sun. Onion maggots can be a problem often solved by covering with a fine mesh netting. The Egyptian Walking Onion is a fun change from the norm. The 'scapes' or topsets produce the next generation of onions. As they mature the weight pulls them down where they take root.


Turnips, Carrots and Radishes grow well together . To plant turnips: Loosen soil and spread seed at about 20 seeds per foot. When they start growing thin to 4 inches apart. The greens are also edible and wonderful wilted in bacon grease.                                  To grow carrots:  Spread seed over well amended, well drained soil and then thin to 2 inch spacing. Inconsistent watering and/or stony soil can cause forking and other deformities. Young carrots are not able to compete and should be weeded frequently being very careful to stay shallow and not disturb the fragile young roots. 


To grow radishes Radishes will grow in full sun or partial shade. 
Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep and when they start to grow thin to 2-4 inches apart. Ready in as few as 20 days small succession plantings every other week will keep you eating these well into the cold weather.


There are many varieties of cabbage, Red, Green and Napa are the first I think of. My favorite use is sauerkraut then salads, slaws and stews; stored, canned or frozen.  To grow cabbage: Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost. Transplant to a full sun, well drained and amended space at 6 weeks. The variety of cabbage you choose will determine the spacing. Many cabbage varieties can be kept in a cool  storage area for several months. 

Greens in my mind coverer a large variety of salad type leafy plants. Chard, Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Collard, Mustard....it just goes on and on. To grow greens: Sow directly in the garden and be generous with the seed. As they mature, the thinnings are you first reward. Some will benefit you the best from weekly or biweekly succession planting. Small amounts that you will be able to use up as the next planting becomes ready. There are also many different types of lettuce. 

And I'm gonna stop at Brussels Sprouts.
Prolific and with a little practice delicious, these unappreciated little fellas love the cold. To grow brussels sprouts: Plant them 36 inches apart in well amended soil. They love nitrogen and consistent watering. Harvest when they reach 1-2 inches wide. 

These are just a few of the choices. In many areas they can be easily protected with row covers made of plastic or other protective materials laid over or tented and will keep producing long after the first frost.