Monday, September 6, 2010

Fall Planting

When it comes to home grown produce, summer crops are great, but cooler weather plants are where my heart is. I have a long standing love of root vegetables and dark, leafy greens. Beer braised kale with garlic is something I'm happy to make a meal of. Mixed greens in a spicy peanut sauce is another well loved recipe, and a root vegetable soup is my favorite cold weather staple.

Today had a definite hint of autumn in the air. This morning a light jacket even felt appropriate before the sun was fully up. The tomatoes have stopped producing well, the eggplant and beans are clearly done for the year, and the few remaining summer squash are busy hardening to give us seeds for next year. Even the massive number of margiold (calendula) plants scattered through the garden are making the transition from blooms to seeds.  I've been taking down plants that seem to be completely done bearing and replanting for a few weeks. We canned the last big handfuls of tomatoes week before last and most of the tomato plants are now replaced with broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions and lettuce. Our peppers are still producing plenty, so fall plantings are going in around them as carefully as possible.

We started a number of our fall plantings inside back in early August, but it's never too late. If you're interested in planting a fall garden, most root vegetables, leafy greens and winter squashes can be planted any day now for a late in the year harvest of fresh produce. Arugula and radish are particularly fast growing, if time is a concern. Heavy mulching around the bases of plants (as insulation for the roots), cold frames, and hoop houses can also greatly increase the length of your growing season. I'm personally a big fan of mulching, but this year I'm hoping to try a small hoop house for growing greens in winter. My fingers are crossed for fresh turnip greens in February!

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