I really thought that not talking about it would help ease the anguish of watching the days grow shorter as this summer’s vegetable gardening season continues to wind down.
Well an email I received from Renee yesterday helped me to see that I wasn’t the only one that was a little anxious over the situation and itching to grow a fall vegetable garden…
Holding on to Summer’s Garden
“Hello Kenny, I love your website. This is my first time here and I learned so much valuable information to help us in our first time garden. I live in Northern New Jersey and have started a small raised bed vegetable garden with my 4 year old and 3 year old grandchildren.”
“We have had a fantastic experience. I can think of few greater joys than watching them plant seeds and pull up carrots. They are asking questions about the earth and bugs and birds. The problem is we don’t want it to end!”
“When I started, I never knew or even thought about a fall vegetable garden and after visiting your website, I want one! Today is August 6. Is there anything that we can sow directly in the ground and harvest this fall or is it too late? I was hoping to plant some more carrots, lettuce and spinach. Thank you very much.” — Renee
Hurdles to Cover in Cultivating Fall Vegetables
Hi Renee, we’re in luck because there’s actually plenty of time left to plant a fall vegetable garden but I wouldn’t drag my feet at this point to get it started. Instead I would get moving pretty fast, especially if you’re interested in growing root crops such as carrots, turnips, and beets.
Many imagine cold temperatures to be the major obstacle to growing veggies into the fall months, but I think that the decreased light levels are even more of an issue, in particular for young seedlings that are just starting to grow during the shorter fall days. That’s why you don’t want to put off your direct seeding much longer. Of course the timetable will vary a bit depending on your growing region and fickle weather conditions.
I set out some broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, and Brussels sprout plants this week but they were from transplants that were at least six weeks old. You may be able to locate cold weather vegetable transplants at your local nursery, just don’t be duped into purchasing leftovers that have been sitting around since spring and are bound to be stunted and worthless.
The Easiest Crops for a Fall Vegetable Gardener
Now is a great time to plant leafy green fall vegetables like kale, collards, spinach, lettuce, mustard, and arugula. These fast growers should have plenty of time to produce and can be harvested at any leaf size that you wish.
Just be sure to harvest individual leaves and leave the central growing tip so that the plants can continue to push out new leaf growth. These hardy greens will even over winter and re-grow to produce additional harvests for you next spring!
Just to prove how much growing season we actually do have left, it is too early for planting some winter vegetables such as mache, cress, winter lettuce, and garlic. In the case of fall planted garlic, shallots, and multiplier onions; I won’t plant those crops until late October or early November and they will be harvested next summer.
So if you are like Renee and myself and want to stubbornly continue to grow more veggies, there’s nothing standing between you and winter but a perfect season for greens, cole crops, and other cold hardy plants in the fall vegetable garden!
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