Hyperlocal: The Backyard Garden
So, you may be wondering why I’m talking about Fall in the middle of Summer. It’s for the same reason that I start planning my summer garden in Spring, or even Winter. This is the time of year when many things start to die. The beans may have given up. The squash has been killed off by squash vine borers or powdery mildew. Those cabbages and lettuces have long since finished. You don’t need to have bare spots in your garden.
You see, I believe in perpetual planting. Instead of one big planting on June 1st, there are multiple plantings all year. In this way, I can make my smaller garden perform like a bigger piece of land. Most things don’t take all year to ripen. Many can take the cooler temperatures of early Spring and even late Fall and Winter.
In my garden, the carrots have been harvested, the beans have gotten diseased. Those are just a few of the holes I have. In their place, I have another round of carrots, beets, and turnips, and the beans have been replanted for a fall harvest. So it goes in the plant world.
The nice thing about a fall garden is how easy it is. In the fall, the weather is cooler, the bugs and fewer and the diseases are less likely. Your only challenge is timing. The basic formula is to look at the seed packet. It will tell you the number of days until harvest. Then you find your average first frost date. In our area, that is Oct 21 through Oct 31. If your seeds say they’ll be ready to harvest in 60 days, you count backwards to the planting date. Since daylight hours are decreasing now, you want to add a few days onto that, but it’s a good jumping off point.
There are lots of books out there on the subject, but my favorite is The Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman. He is a Maine farmer who figured out how to have fresh veggies all year long. If you’re a garden geek like myself, this book will really inspire you.
You certainly can’t be planting new tomato and pepper seedlings, but there are lots of things you can plant. Spinach and lettuce can be planted in mid to late August. The warmth is wonderful for them to germinate, but the cooler weather later on is better for them to grow in.
Carrots are a veggie that I never had much luck with until I tried planting them as a fall crop. They can take the cold and many varieties can even be left in the ground over the winter with a heavy mulch on top. I love going on on one of those rogue warm days in February and digging up some super sweet carrots for the table. Carrots actually get sweeter when they’ve gone through the cold. The sugar helps them to survive the cold.
I also do multiple plantings of cabbage and broccoli. They do better in the colder weather. Many cabbage varieties will hold all year with some protection in the garden. It just takes some investigation. It’s a way to get that garden thrill all year long.
This post is part of the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways blog hop.