Fall Vegetables Start Now
For a feast-full fall garden, now is the time for planning and planting. On the other hand, if you want to take it easy after your spring and summer harvests, then simply plant a cover crop of winter rye in those areas where the crops have been harvested.
If you like Brussels sprouts, now is the time to get the seeds in the ground. Brussels sprouts produce biggest yields when planted early so that the stem of each plant grows to its maximum height by mid-September, when the sprouts begin to form in the axils of each leaf. In other words, the tallest stem with the most leaves produces the greatest yields.
In the Garden this Week
Prune Trees and Shrubs Now
Summer pruning reduces sucker and secondary shoot growth that plants produce. Now is the time to cut those large branches that are interfering with your grass mowing or shading out your garden. When you do heavy pruning in the spring — when a big reserve of energy is stored in the roots and stems — much of that stored energy goes into new shoot and sucker growth. By mid-July, perennial trees and shrubs are beginning to prepare for winter. There is less top growth because daylight hours are growing shorter and more of the energy is being translocated to the roots in preparation for next spring. As a result, the plant will not generate so much shoot and sucker growth in response to severe pruning.
I always envy my brother Mo in New Hampshire, who can plant his Brussels sprouts in late spring and grow them two to three feet tall by the time sprouts form. He produces at least twice the amount of Brussels sprouts that I do from the same number of plants, thanks to those cool summers and long days.
Mid-July to early August is a good time to plant cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale and collards. I like making two plantings of collards. The first I start harvesting immediately after the first frost. The second planting I start harvesting during the holidays. Spinach also makes an excellent fall crop.
If you like peas, sow the seeds in mid-July for a long fall harvest. Unlike spring-planted peas that stop producing as soon as the heat comes on, fall harvesting of peas continues until they are killed by a hard freeze. As the days and nights grow cooler and the daylight hours grow shorter, pea vines continue to flower and produce pods.
Carrots and beets also make wonderful fall crops. The carrots will be extra sweet, as will the beets. Matter of fact, I prefer eating fall-grown carrots to carrots sown in spring and harvested during summer. Another advantage is that fall-grown carrots will not be infested with carrot maggots. Plant your carrots and beets in double rows for twice the yield. I plant two rows six inches apart.