By Ashleigh Smith, True Leaf Market
Photographs courtesy of True Leaf Market
One of the beautiful things about gardening is that it is a year-round endeavor. There is always something to be grown. At this time of the year, it is time to focus on growing late summer and fall crops. What exactly does this mean? You can plant vegetables like leafy greens, root vegetables, and some peas, beans, or summer squash varieties to enjoy during the fall and holiday seasons. Nothing beats a fresh harvest in time for Thanksgiving Day!
Planting late summer crops is also the perfect opportunity to preserve a portion of your fresh harvest for use throughout the winter months. Bottling and freezing are popular methods for preserving fresh beans, peas, and root vegetables that can easily be added to any casual meal. Pickling or fermenting is also an easy and quick method of preserving cabbage, snap beans, radishes, cauliflower, carrots, and other summer vegetables.
To make the most of your harvest, consider planting summer squashes, beans, and herbs as soon as possible to enjoy this season. Squash and beans like warm soil temperatures for germination, making summer the perfect time to directly sow these seeds. Like many of these vegetables, herbs are also ready to harvest for fresh use or drying within a few weeks. Preserve any extras for use throughout the winter season. Summer squashes like yellow crookneck and zucchini are known for their prolific yields and quick maturity.
From seed, you can expect to make a squash harvest in as little as 50-60 days. Some people may think it is too late to enjoy a bountiful harvest of squash if they aren’t planted first thing in the spring. But many summer squash varieties will produce right up to the first fall frost, making them well worth the effort. Enjoy using the plentiful harvest of zucchinis for perfect, cozy fall loaves of bread.
While the summer vegetables do well in the hot and sunny areas of the garden, cool-season crops like cabbage, leafy greens, peas, and root vegetables will grow best when sown in partial shade areas before temperatures start cooling. This will help prevent bolting. If you prefer to wait until the heat of summer has passed, sow in a full-sun location. As the temperatures cool and the days get shorter, your seedlings will appreciate all the sunlight they can get.
The best thing about growing a fall harvest of cool-season crops is the incredible flavor that develops with the cool fall weather up to and right after the first frost. These vegetables are best sown when day temperatures are around 70-75 F. This should be around 1.5-2.5 months before the first fall frost date for your growing location. For leafy greens and root crops, consider succession sowing to make the most of your fall growing space. This will allow you to gather a harvest several times a week for both fresh use and preservation.
While jams, jellies, and sauces are popular ways to preserve common summer-harvested vegetables, fall crops are ideal for fermented foods. Use a combination of late-summer sowed root vegetables and cabbage for foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, pickled vegetables, and more! Pickled and fermented foods not only taste good but contain probiotics known to aid the digestive system. All you need to get started is a fermentation jar and some fresh vegetables. Because this process requires a relatively small harvest and little equipment, it is the perfect way to top off your food storage before the arrival of winter weather.
Whether you cultivate a large garden plot or use containers on the patio, you still have time to plan and grow late summer crops for a fall harvest. Make the most of your garden this year by using the whole growing season. With many parts of the United States getting a late start in the garden, this is the perfect opportunity to extend your fall harvest. From fresh salads to savory stews, these crops will be worth planting. Nothing beats a meal made from garden fresh vegetables. Learn more: www.trueleafmarket.com
Ashleigh Smith is the Managing Editor at True Leaf Market with a bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. True Leaf Market is a nationally certified organic, non-GMO seed and horticultural company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The True Leaf Market staff specializes in supplying a large selection of conventional, heirloom, and organic seeds to home gardeners everywhere. Learn more about our seeds, supplies, and other growing ideas: www.trueleafmarket.com.
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