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Late summer planting extends your garden's harvest well into the fall season

Is it too early to say the word “fall”?

Fall is a time to grow many vegetable crops, which means summer planting for fall harvesting. During this season, gardeners can take advantage of cooler temperatures and more plentiful moisture.

Many spring-planted crops like lettuce and spinach tend to bolt, or produce seed, and become bitter in response to the long, hot summer days. Fall gardening helps extend your gardening season so that you can continue to harvest produce after earlier crops have faded.

Two added bonuses are that most of these crops taste better when harvested in cool weather and many pests have run their cycle and will not be a problem in the fall.

A few general tips for planting in summer:

  1. Plant seeds twice as deep as you would in spring. This allows the tender roots to get down into cooler soil, and the deeper planting keeps seeds moist so they can germinate.
  2. Try to keep soil moist until seedlings start to grow. Once they do, keep them well watered until they are established.
  3. The planting times below are the latest you can plant each type of produce. You can always plant earlier, but watch out for greens that want to go to seed when it is hot. In response, harvest often.

What to grow for fall harvest?

Plant up to August 15

  • Beets: Fall is great for beets and beet greens. Thin out young beets and eat both the baby beets and greens. Harvest late October.
  • Carrots: Sweeter when harvested in the cool days of October.
  • Kale: This one you can harvest well into winter.
  • Kohlrabi
  • Peas: A little tough if we have a very hot, dry end to summer, so be sure to keep well watered.
  • Bush beans: A fast crop before the season end.
  • Swiss chard: Chard is a great durable replacement for spinach. Its a very healthy green, either cooked or fresh in a salad. It will survive early light frost and you can harvest well into November.
  • Turnips: Fast growing for greens and a hearty root crop.
  • Pac choy and bok choy: Fast growing hates heat. Harvest often to keep from bolting.

Plant up to August 25

  • Spinach: Spinach will not germinate in soil temps over 85 degrees. Try to plant in part shade and keep soil cool with water, or start inside and transplant into garden. Spinach will withstand light frost.
  • Leaf Lettuce: Easy to grow, should be able to harvest into late October.

Plant up to September 15

  • Radish: needs lots of water grows quick.

I like to keep it simple for my fall planting and stick to seeding directly into the garden. You can also start things like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, but you need to start them inside and transplant into the garden.

You can also use season extenders to get crops to go a little longer. These are great but keep in mind you need to water under them, or make sure to take the top off on rainy days.

For more tips and stories about backyard gardening from Mitchel Yaciw, subscribe to the Growing With Unity email newsletter.

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