As you harvest your tomatoes and peppers from your garden, don’t forget that now is the time to be planting your cold crops for fall harvesting. These crops include cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and carrots.
Much like planting your summer gardens, you have the choice of starting from seeds or buying starter plants from a local greenhouse. If you’re planning on starting from seed, be sure to count back 12 to 14 weeks from your usual first frost date. That’s when you’ll want to start your seeds indoors, where the temperature is not as extreme and the seeds can’t dry out. All of your seeds should be planted and started by the second week of August in order to have a good crop.
When planting the seedlings outdoors, be sure you have enriched the soil with compost or manure, giving these a strong start in your garden. Your crops can also help add nutrients to the soil for the next year. Edibles like arugula or turnips cycle nutrients back into the soil once the first frosts begin and the plant residues rot.
When planting the seeds you started indoors, be sure to leave room for other crops such as garlic and onions or shallots that do not need to be planted until mid-fall, after the soil has cooled from the summer heat.
Much like your summer crops, keeping your fall garden watered is important. Any type of stress or drought can not only slow the growth of your edibles, but it can actually kill entire crops. One way to help prevent soil from drying out too much is to use a shade cloth above the seedlings, held up with stakes to be kept off the plants. You can also keep the soil cool and moist by adding a layer of mulch.
As the fall progresses, you may need to protect your edibles from cold nights and light frosts using lightweight cloths or bedsheets.
There are also some herbs that do well in cooler weather and can be planted in your fall garden. Be sure to include kitchen favorites like thyme, parsley, chives, oregano, sage and rosemary.
Despite the warm weather drawing to a close, there is still time to harvest plenty of delicious food for you and your family.