As we bid summer farewell, we say goodbye to the bright flowers and fresh produce ... not so fast. Try planting some veggies now in your gardens for fall crops and make plans to extend your vegetable gardening next year.
Raised beds are perfect for extending the growing season since they warm up earlier than the ground in spring and hold heat well into the Fall. Extend your growing season even more with constructed hoops to fit over your beds, both raised and ground beds. A hoop that can be removed on sunny warm days and replaced in the cool evenings of fall will serve the purpose. It can be made of heavy plastic and PVC pipe, couplers and PVC clamps or 1 x 2s and some staples. Size it to a little larger than the dimensions of the bed. You can add PVC pipe into the ground to act as anchors. There are many online versions of these hoops. If you want to go simple, just make sure you cover your crops with protecting fabric or even old sheets for an overnight protection. It’s important to keep an eye on the weather report in the fall and be cognizant of the weather microclimate in your own yard. Some areas can retain the cool for longer periods, exposed areas may be cooler, and those living in open areas may find cooler conditions than in town.
This year our warm spring and early hot weather shortened the spring growing season so grab some garden time now at the end of the summer season by planting fast growing, cool tolerant veggies. If you can’t find seeds in stores, check online for some of these favorites.
Carrots such as Thumbelina and Little Finger or any variety with a fast maturation of 60 days or less should be OK. These can be eaten young and tender. A fast maturing pea variety can give you a taste of Spring in the fall months.
Leafy crops such as spinach, kale, bok choy, spicy rocket arugula, mizuna, mustard greens, rainbow chard, and some lettuces will do fine in the cool weather of early fall. But cover leafy crops with a blanket when frost threatens. Leave some seeds lightly covered with compost through the winter and see some greens as soon as the sun warms the bed in the spring. Turnips and parsnips love the cool weather of fall and parsnips are known to be sweeter once the snow flies. Beets and rutabagas do well in cool but not frost conditions. Brussels sprouts get sweeter the longer you leave them on the plant. I have left them until Thanksgiving with a little cover on frosty days. Scallions or green onions will also give you a fall crop.
Fall brings a lot of natural beauty, so enjoy and don’t discount your veggie bounty this time of year.
For gardening questions, call the Linn County Extension Master Gardener Hortline at (319) 447-0647.