Have you planted your fall garden yet?

P1000331Say hello to some January carrots

I don’t mean to be too much of a nag, but…have you considered your fall garden yet?

With the two greenhouses, I need to have seedlings planted in them by first frost.  Trouble is, they need to be of Goldilocks size:  not too big, not too small, just right.  Especially the lettuces.  Too big and the cold, once it comes to stay, really hits the leaves hard, turning them to mush; too small, I won’t see a harvest until March, just right, I can harvest them from November through February.

But not everyone has greenhouses to consider.  It is the perfect time to sow a row or three of cool-loving crops.  Have a trellis that’s empty?  Try fall peas.  Too scared to try the martian-spaceship of the vegetable world, kohlrabi?  It, likewise, loves the cool of the fall, and can take frosts too.  In fact, many of the brassica family (turnips, rutabaga, collards, broccoli) do quite well if you plant them now, and you can even harvest some of them from under the snow, like we do.

I haven’t planted the lettuces yet.  Because they sprout so readily, they’ll be too big for my overwintering needs; they’ll do fine as fall salad items now though.  But I have planted first crops of kohlrabi, lacinato (dinosaur) kale, and fennel, as they really appreciate coming into ripeness in October: they’re not pithy, or too big, and, in fennel’s case, it’s usually too cool for it to go to seed (which often happens, disappointingly, to spring-planted fennel).  And carrots, like those above, have been succession-planted every two weeks all summer long.  There is nothing as sweet as a winter-harvested carrot!

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17 responses to “Have you planted your fall garden yet?

  1. I pulled my garlic and some other spring veg this morning, so I’m hoping to plant fall veg this afternoon – I need to get moving! Like you said, it seems like it is the middle of summer so no rush, but those veg need time to develop too. Thank you for the list of things that go well in cooler temps. Fall peas is something I might try – do they trellis more upward or horizontal? I like most anything in the brassica family, but last year my kale died before first frost. I’ll try again though. Any other tips for veg that do well, particularly in smaller spaces?
    Another question for you: do you need to rotate through (i.e. things that were planted as “rooting under” like radishes, garlic, etc) shouldn’t have rooting veg in the fall like carrots?)

  2. I just got my lazy rear in gear and planted turnips and rutabagas a couple days ago. Last night I planted a long row filled with more kale, radicchio, and evetually spinach for my covered winter rows. I like to have large and small kale going into winter as they both serve different needs. I planted some more peas too! Sometimes I even plant a few really late ones just for the tender leaves.

    How’s that hoophouse coming along you ask? Well, it’s not. The good news is I have decided upon a location for it but will probably not build it until next spring…I hope. I need two of me. I envy you for your less hardy winter lettuces and look forward to viewing a tour of yours in the depths of winter from my desk.

  3. It’s so hot here in California’s central valley that it’s tough to start fall planting at just the right time….last year I totally missed the boat (but of course it was my first attempt at fall/winter gardening).

    My summer garden isn’t doing too great this year…6 tomato plants had to be destroyed due to tobacco mosaic virus and the others just haven’t produced much yet. That’s actually because the squirrels have been robbing me blind! The deer have been happily munching the tops of the squash, tomatoes, melons. The trombocino squash vine put out it’s first gorgeous fruit and the vine and the squash just withered up last week. Something chewed through the vine.

    I’ve lost a bit of enthusiasm, but your post has got me thinking about fall again…Thanks!

  4. I did find a great blog “Skippy’s Vegetable Garden” that has a spring planting calendar tool as well as a fall calendar. You just plug in your first frost date (for fall planting) and it will generate the dates you’ll want to plant whatever it is you’re planning on. Just Google ‘skippy’s vegetable garden’.

  5. Our seedlings are sprouting and will go in the ground in August. . .root crops going in next week! Here’s to fall gardening. . .

  6. This spring while turning over my garden, I discovered a few carrots that had accidentally overwintered under a heavy blanket of leaves. They were delicious! Last week I planted a block of carrots that I plan to overwinter in the same way, so hopefully we will have fresh carrots in early spring. Winter harvesting is not much of a possibility here in Vermont, as the garden is typically covered with more than two feet of snow. My snow peas are just about done….. hmmm, maybe I’ll take your suggestion and try a fall crop of peas.

  7. I haven’t even thought of my winter garden, my summer garden is crap!
    This as been the most awful spring and summer ever!
    Last year I was canning and freezing like a mad woman. This year I have picked 4 summer squash, some mexican peppers and cherry tomatoes. That is it!!!
    My sunflowers even look bad.
    We were on vacation for a week, we got home yesterday and I was so disappointed when I walked in the garden.
    My green peppers are just sad….
    This has not been a good year.

  8. Thanks for the reminder, El. Every time I’ve started seeds for the fall, the birds nip them in the bud. So it’s not only time to be planting seeds, but time to get some row cover to protect my seedlings. W’ere so organized this year, we might actually get this done.

  9. whoa, you started kolhrabi and kale already? direct seeded?
    When’s first frost for you?

  10. Yep. I have a bit of spinach, leaf lettuce and beets sprouting under my cucumber trellis, which (in theory) will be a cooler spot for growing greens in the late summer. Of course, the way this summer is going, heat is not a problem…

    Also started in a flat are more of the above, plus cabbage and broccoli. Not sure exactly where these will go, but hopefully there will be space somewhere by the time they are ready to move in! 🙂

  11. I guess I’ll get my lights set up and start again. I wish I could direct seed but until the rainy season that would be a chore. And when the rains come, it’s too late. . . rock and dry place here. Your carrots are inspiring.

  12. Carrots and turnips all winter long. I’m giving that plan a try.

  13. Offtopic but I noticed today that the Tomato plant growing out of the storm drain was hacked off.As the tomatoes were still green last Saturday I can only surmise that the carwash people ran a weedwacker over it as they have a small strip of grass to maintain but then again they have a fishpond and nice garden on the corner so I’m guessing maybe the Streetsweeper truck got it on the weekly pass.All that’s left is the base stem but looking at it what did I see next to it in a crack in the pavement but some Purslane growing!

  14. Started about two weeks ago with the fall garden. A bunch of brassicas, some lettuces and my favorites, the endives (Cichorium endivia). From what’s coming up I can already see I planted way too much; I hope it means that I can enjoy occasionally.

    I am also looking into some vegetable that I can plant in the next couple of weeks and which will be harvestable early next spring….

  15. I planted out my fall crops last week. I’ll do some more later too – lettuce, mache and spinach, but at least all the longer to grow crops are in already.

  16. Hi MC: I would say that if your garden is fairly mixed up as it is, you shouldn’t need to rotate things much. Basically, you shouldn’t put potatoes and tomatoes in the same spots year after year, and planting beans is one good way to clean up the soil. Just get a good book! But yeah, peas like climbing things. Last year I planted a whole bed of them climbing some apple tree prunings: it was a pea-covered stick forest! And arugula and broccoli raab are two things you should try that are small and hardy.

    Mike, your rear is NOT lazy with all that you do. I have considered doing more hoop frames this year, but that is probably not terribly realistic: our greenhouses are (yes! yay!) big enough for our needs. I am sort of sad to hear you’re not getting the hoop house this year, but if it’s any consolation at all, putting ours up takes about 2 days, that’s it. Instant gratification is that the frames go up in under 2 hours!! It’s the end walls and putting the plastic on that sucks up the time.

    Petunia, well, yeah, I guess it’s been a fairly crummy year all around the States. Do you have a fence? Deer fencing does work wonders, and is fairly cheap and inconspicuous. But it sounds like your squash had a vine borer. Google “squash vine borer” to find out how to get rid of them: it entails a utility knife and a bit of fearlessness to go after the grub that is sucking the life out of your plant, but the squash can recover. We pulled 8 out of 3 plants just this weekend, the chickens were pleased. But yes: there is remuneration in a fall garden! Oh and thanks for giving us the head’s up about Skippy’s very good gardening parents: they do like their charts!

    Milkweedy, are you selling more too to your friends? I won’t start lettuces for a while yet but the third crop of carrots will go into the greenhouses this week. That latest book by Coleman I mentioned really will help you figure out and stage your greenhouse plantings.

    Annika, do try the peas at least! We get a ton of snow here too but we admittedly don’t get as cold as VT so harvesting turnips and rutabagas happened through most of the winter because they mostly sit atop the frozen ground, under heavy leaf and straw mulch. Carrots, well, carrots had to wait for a thaw. But that was okay, they were still sweet…

    Grandmabecker, well, there’s an upside: the Japanese beetles are totally manageable this year!! But I agree, it’s been pretty awful, pretty cold. WE have been terribly DRY and cold, isn’t that strange? But at least the sun has been shining, can’t do much gardening without that sun.

    Ed, great to hear (about the organization, not the birds)! Do tell us about it. And you’ve got some time yet but maybe not for carrots and turnips.

    Sylvie, our first frost is usually the very end of October, though we have gotten snow as early as Oct. 15th since we’ve been here. Really, I could have planted the kohlrabi earlier but didn’t because we like them small. Fennel too.

    Sara, great! And wow, starting seedlings in flats: one of my least favorite things ever. But yes, it is always a juggle, trying to figure out where all this good stuff will go, isn’t it? If I am ever really itching for space I do a few mercy killings and indulge in the dead crop for a couple dinners.

    Stef, wow, and lights/flats aren’t a chore? Although I do say I have a new appreciation for the hardship that is sandy soil: the school gardens are fairly sandy, YUCK. Is there a way you could put the flats outside and avoid the lights? Like, under that new deck of yours or something? Someplace you can’t avoid walking by, anyway, to see how they’re doing like 3x a day…

    Pamela, you should. It might make up for this summer’s disappointing garden.

    John: nature finds a way, doesn’t she? And all that edible goodness in what’s normally considered such an inappropriate place!

    Frank, I am not sure how cold your place gets, but some folks with milder winters than mine plant Purple Sprouting Broccoli as it does great showing up with blossoms in early spring. Actually, all the brassicas will try to sprout in spring (their 2nd year) and those blossoms are quite tasty! But I would think root crops are your candidates. March, for example, is when I harvest our parsnips, but then again those seeds went in the ground in April, which has of course passed us by at this point.

    Daphne, same here (with the lettuces etc.). Good to hear that you’re on top of it, though! It does seem a bit strange thinking this far ahead but you just need to think like a seed.

  17. Well rats, is it time for fall planting already?

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