What a late planting season we had down in Southern Oregon. It feels like we just got all the summer bounty planted and it is already time to start planning for the fall. I love growing fall gardens and extending the delights of home grown food throughout the year. With food costs so high, why not grow as much of your own vegetables as you can?
Garden staples are a great option for fall planting. Fall gardens are almost a mirror of your early spring planting. Peas, carrots, beets, greens and brassicas make great choices for fall gardens. I really enjoy growing things that can make it through most of the winter in the ground…dreaming of a root cellar one day. So I’ve compiled a list of my favorite varieties for season extension gardening.
Radish, Misato Rose - What a dreamboat! Misato Rose is an heirloom Chinese daikon radish. Commonly known as a watermelon radish, they add gorgeous pink and lime green color to salads. Excellent for quick pickling and fermenting. I grew them last year and was able to harvest crisp roots from the ground through February. Excellent storage capabilities in the fridge as well. Direct seed in mid July for a fall harvest. This variety does not do well in spring plantings so plant it while you can!
Purple, Sprouting Broccoli - This overwinter variety is a real showstopper! The bright purple florets emerge in early spring. It has a sweet flavor that only something that survived the winter cold will have. Purple Sprouting Broccoli produces many florets instead of one large head. Excellent timing as it is ready to eat before your spring plantings mature. Plant at the end of June to the middle of July for a harvest from late January-May.
Chicory, Palla Rossa - I really fell in love with Radicchio last year. With beautiful pink and white striping, Palla rossa is a delightfully crisp and slightly bitter addition to salad. Can be grilled or braised as well. The fun part about Radicchio is that you can harvest them from fall through the winter. The outer leaves form a protective layer from the cold over the dense inner head. What a joy to peel back what looks like decaying leaves to find a bright, well blanched edible radicchio in the middle. We are conducting a Radicchio trial this year on the farm to determine the best varieties for our region. Plant seeds on the summer solstice for best results. Looking for more variety? Try the Chicory, Wild Garden Mix by plant breeder Frank Morton.
Rutabaga, Nadmorska - An heirloom from Lithuania, Nadmorska Rutabagas are an excellent winter storage crop. Rutabagas feel kind of like a vegetable from the past and are not readily available at supermarkets. They are sweet and have a creamy texture and are excellent roasted or mashed. A nice replacement for potatoes in gratin. The leaves are edible and can be cooked up the same as you would kale. Direct sow in mid July for a fall harvest.
Leek, Falltime - The name says it all. Falltime Leek forms a thick shank and shorter plants great for fall harvests and overwintering. I really love leeks as an addition to soups and quiche. They have a milder flavor compared to onion and caramelize really nicely. If you plant these in time you can make my favorite fall dish: Samhain Galette. A dish I like to make on Halloween. I have had great success hilling leeks when they are about a foot tall, providing for a nicely blanched shank. Seed leeks in late June to early July for a fall harvest.