Fall’s Arrival Doesn’t Spoil a Vegetable Garden

October 1, 2007

Yes, it’s officially fall according to the calendar, but the vegetable garden is still lush, green, and continues to yield plenty of fresh organic produce.

I’ve been gradually removing summer crops, including the heirloom tomatoes to make room for fall plantings. The only remaining warm weather veggies are the okra plants which will be pulled later this week, and a few peppers that will continue growing until the first fall frost wipes them out.

Incredible Fall Vegetables

As usual the leafy greens account for the bulk of my fall vegetable production. This season I’m growing lots of my favorite kales; the Tuscan Black Palm Kale variety and the Wild Garden Kales Mix. I also planted seeds of more traditional kale varieties such as Siberian, Dwarf Blue Curled, and Russian Red.

Kale greens are my favorite fall crop for their ease of cultivation, flavor, and productivity. They will not only reward you with plenty of delicious greens during the fall months, but the plants will also over winter to yield additional harvests of early spring greens.

Leafy Greens a Staple of the Fall Garden

Similar to kales are the collard greens which will grow well during the fall and also over winter in cold weather areas. Collards are even comfortable growing during hot weather and can be planted in the spring to grow right through multiple seasons.

There’s one collard plant in my garden that is absolutely huge, it has to be over four feet tall and more than four feet wide. This plant has been growing since spring and I haven’t started harvesting from it yet. As with all of the cold hardy leafy greens I prefer to begin the harvest after the leaves have been sweetened by a touch of frost.

Other leafy greens that are currently maturing include; various mustards, Chinese Cabbages, cress, endives, lettuce, and oriental greens. This year I’m also trying out several Even Star Ice-Bred greens such as an arugula, tatsoi, tenderleaf, and a hardy collard variety. These ice-bred varieties are designed to continue producing under harsher winter weather conditions.

Other Cold Hardy Edible Delights

In addition to the leafy greens there are a few other fall vegetables in the raised beds. Of course I’m growing cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts. They are joined by root crops such as turnips, rutabagas, carrots, beets, and parsnips.

The plantings not quite over yet… I’m still doing a little seeding out in the cold frames and may even start a few greens and winter lettuce right out in the open garden beds. Later this week I’ll plant garlic seed for next summer’s productive gourmet garlic harvest.

My globe artichokes didn’t produce a single artichoke this summer but the plants along with the cardoons are growing well in the cooler temperatures and I’ll try to protect and nurse them through the cold Pennsylvania winter and hope for better luck with the artichokes next season.

Spicing Up the Fall Vegetable Patch

Herbs scattered throughout the garden are taking advantage of what’s left of the growing season. The lovage plants which were cut back in mid summer have sent up bushy new growth that is great for salads and cooking if you enjoy the strong flavor of the leaves.

A tall clump of Lemongrass is growing wildly and towering over bunches of parsley and the dried seed pods of perennial flowers left standing for the birds to enjoy.

You can also find Rosemary, oregano, thymes, tarragon, sage, basil, and other culinary herbs ready and waiting to be added to a favorite gourmet recipe. Along with the spice there’s also plenty of color remaining in the vegetable garden.

Showy Fall Garden Displays and Colors

The nasturtium leaves and flowers continue to grace the garden and the salad bowl. Other fall bloomers include calendulas, marigolds, and the tiny blue flowers that adorn the creeping Rosemary plants. Then there’s always the tall Mexican Sage plants that never fail to put on a show at this time of the year.

Finally, the variegated collards, ornamental kales and cabbages, and the color infused leaves of other leafy greens stand out more and more as the temperatures begin to drop and the plants take on their cold weather blushes and tints.

So if you’re up for it, fall really can be the most remarkable time of all out in the vegetable garden. And the best part of it is that the fall veggie garden will almost tend to itself, with few demands in the way of weeding, watering, or pest control.

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