Planting for Fall

Plant veggies now for late fall harvest

 

When we’re just now harvesting tomatoes – it’s hard to think about what we’ll harvest a couple months from now when the tomatoes are long gone!   

Nevertheless, it is the time to think about the last crop of veggies for this growing season – and mid-August is time to get planting.  Wouldn’t you like to enjoy more homegrown lettuce and spinach before it gets seriously cold?
We may be harvesting those late crops as the snow flies, but  late veggies actually prefer cooler weather.  Colorado is well suited to fall gardening and winter harvest.  Fall crops are primarily greens and root crops and they are very well adapted for late season growing.  

Space is not an issue
Even though your garden may be brimming with summer veggies you’re still harvesting, there should be room for fall crops.  Fall veggies adapt to intensive gardening.  They grow well in containers, table top raised beds and raised beds of all kinds – so you can really get a big bang in a small space.  Even in your current garden, you can probably find room to tuck in some of these veggies.

What to plant
Beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale and chard can all be planted now. August is the best time to plant arugula, cabbage, endive, spinach and cilantro.  And come September, bush peas, radishes, Chinese greens – plus, more spinach and lettuce – can also be planted.

Are plants or seeds best for the fall garden?  
Garden centers are cutting prices on transplants now, so there are some good deals.  But be careful what you buy.  For example, it’s too late to start tomatoes for a fall harvest. For transplants, the best options are broccoli and cauliflower.  The best thing about most fall crops is that they do well when planted from seed, especially, greens like spinach, lettuces and many herbs. Seeds are still readily available if you do not already have them.

What about frost and snow?
Fall crops thrive in cooler weather and many fall crops are frost tolerant.  All these vegetables actually develop their prime flavors when the ambient temperatures are cooler. Getting them to germinate and grow soon so it is cooler when they begin to mature, is the goal. And these crops don’t need a full 8 hours of sun, either.  

Protection from the elements
There are many ways to protect fall crops whether they are in containers or raised beds or even in ground.  Use frost blankets, horticultural fabrics, cloches and even old sheets.  Don’t use plastic, however.  These protective items can be put over crops quickly if there’s a frost danger – and also taken off easily to harvest.   

Don’t miss out on those late crops – plant something this weekend!

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