by OCMGA Master Gardener Holly Boettcher
Are you enjoying fresh vegetables from your garden as much as I am? I love to pick tender green beans from my garden to steam for dinner, or how about a delicious Carprese Salad from those heirloom tomato gems that you planted from seed way back in March? Have you ever considered extending your culinary joy into the late fall? August is the perfect time to plant your cool weather vegetables and here are some tips to get you started.
Cool weather plants do not germinate well in warm soil. They will do best if you begin with prepping your soil by watering it well, then shading the soil from direct sun so the area will begin to cool down for a few days before sowing your seed.
What to Plant:
Consider kale, carrots, beets, arugula, Swiss chard, spinach, bush beans, summer squash (such as zucchini or patty pan) turnips, cilantro, collards, lettuce, radishes, and scallions to name a few. A rule of thumb is produce with edible roots and leaves (rather than flowers) are some of the hardiest choices. Also consider trying garlic which can be planted in the late fall for a spring harvest!
Read the labels to find varieties that require a shorter number of days to mature, or search for seeds that are rated for the fall growing season. It is a good rule of thumb to “count back” from the normal frost date, however you will want to take into consideration that days are getting shorter and temperatures are cooler, so add extra days to your calculation. Be patient with them because they are not going to grow as fast as in the warmer and longer days of spring.
Be prepared with old sheets, or hoops that are ready to cover them if a frost is predicted, although some of these such as carrots, beets, and kale are hardy enough to survive a mild frost.
Vegetables grown in late season have the luxury of not being attacked by pests, as many of the insects have already completed their lifecycles. And some such as crucifers, greens, and peas will taste even sweeter!
Where to buy seeds:
Often times the cupboard is bare at the local garden centers at this time of year. I like to order heirloom seeds from www.rareseeds.com or try www.gurneys.com or www.burpee.com You will find some interesting varieties that will be fun to grow and harvest. Well, what are you waiting for? Get those seeds ordered, planted, and join me in the delight of growing your own vegetables late into the fall this year!