I wanted to share some of my insights about helping your fall garden to thrive! Consider that while many of focus on our summer garden, it only really begins to feed us later in July with zucchini, cucumbers, green bean, corn, and so on. And the summer productivity usually tapers off by Halloween. So the summer garden feeds us for about 3 months. Compare this to our fall/Winter garden that we plant in August, begins feeding us in September with lettuce, root veggies, and greens; then continues to produce a whole host of diversity from fall peas, to broccoli, cabbage, roots, parsley, cilantro, brussles sprouts and more all the way into May. So that is 8 months of production compared to 3 months for the Summer garden. So careful planning and action right now really makes a difference in the success of your gardening efforts and their ability to keep fresh food on the table year round.
First of all, determine what you would like to grow. May I suggest:
* ROOTS: plenty of carrots and beets, and other roots such as parsnips, turnips, radish and burdock. Try and plant carrots and beets by the first week of August in SW Oregon (you have about another week for every 2 degrees latitude you go south). Radishes and Turnips grow more quickly and can be successfully established from a September 1st planting. Parsnips and Burdock take longer and should be growing by now (ideal is June 1st, til July 1st). Please note that carrot seed is small, planted shallow and takes up to 2 weeks to sprout, so keep the seed moist with daily watering (or twice daily if soil is sandy). Using floating row covers helps to conserve moisture. Rutabagas are a wonderful root crop best planted in August for a supply of cold hardy roots over the winter and into spring. Sweet Onions can be seeded in late August to be transplanted out around early October for a May/June harvest the following year
* GREENS: Cabbage, Kale, Collards, lettuces, Swiss Chard, more spinach. Cabbages should be started by mid July for mid-August transplanting. Kale, Collards, Broccoli, Brussles Sprouts and Chard can be started now in flats then transplanted during a favorable cool period in August. Spinach can be planted in mid August or early September. Lettuce germinates poorly above 75 degrees F., so start in pots/cells in the shade and keep moist. Other greens to consider – lambsquarters, orach and beetberry are heat tolerant. Persian Cress and Chickory/Endive can be started in mid August to mid. September.
* HERBS: late summer basil that you protect in a greenhouse, cloche or with row covers, parsley, dill for fall pickling projects and more cilantro.
*PEAS: not many folks realize that you can grow beautiful crops of fall snap or snow peas here. Try and plant by the first week of August in an area that gets afternoon shade if possible. Bush varieites mature more quickly
* OVER-WINTERED ONIONS: We seed Siskiyou Sweet Onions around September 1st and transplant out in mid October around the time when we are planting garlic. In a good year, we are harvesting lovely fresh onions beginning in late May. The fresh tops are wonderful in all sorts of dishes.
* FAVA BEANS: These can be planted in October and overwintered where average low temperatures stay about 15 degrees. In areas where it gets colder in the winter it is best to plant in February or March. Fall sown Favas can be mature in late May or June.
* GARLIC: Garlic is best planted in October which allows the plants to develop enough roots to make the vegetative tops once the days get longer in February and March to produce large bulbs. Garlic “seed” is simply bulbs that are disease free and selected to produce healthy large bulbs. We supply a number of wonderful strains.
Many blessings on your efforts and may your dance with the good green Earth be filled with joy, grace and abundance!