July 16, 2019
This is the time of year to give your garden its second wind. After harvesting all the salad greens, peas and rhubarb, you can still grow some root and other vegetables now, and reap veggie rewards in the fall! The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls it succession gardening for fall, a period of planting in mid-to-late summer when you think your garden is winding down, but not so! There’s still plenty of growing time left to bring in wonderful cool-weather vegetables.
Fall gardening means fewer pests, a reduced need for watering and weeding and milder weather. Lots of vegetables are frost tolerant, like spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli and kale. As soon as your spring and summer plants stop producing veggies, pull them and make room for fall crops –and just remember these three things.
Fall Frost Plus One
Checking the frost dates for Aurora, a quick look reveals the first fall frost this year is likely to be September 23. We probably have another month after that before a killing freeze would ruin crops so count backwards from the “date to maturity” on your seed packets. Since it’s so much warmer now than in May, seeds should germinate faster. The Old Farmer’s Almanac also has a garden calendar to help you calculate fall planting dates based on frost dates.
Check “Days to Harvest”
It’s not too late to grow fast-growing veggies like summer squash and zucchini – to get produce in 45 to 50 days. Lots of cucumbers are ready to eat in less than 50 days and bush beans only take about 50 to 60 days. A row of radishes will be ready for your salads in 25 days but other root vegetables like carrots, beets and turnips will take a little longer. You won’t mind, though, because those veggies get sweeter as the days get cooler!
And, if you’re bothered by that intense beet red color bleeding all over everything, you can always grow the gold or white varieties – and eat the leaves! Alecia, who blogs for Chicken Scratch NY, says you can leave carrots in the ground all winter under a thick layer of mulch to prevent them from freezing. (Plus, here’s the secret recipe of Alecia’s mother – for Zucchini Bread — made with crushed pineapple and a dash and sprinkle of cinnamon and allspice! You might want to whip up a double batch – it’s THAT good.)
Snap peas and snow peas start to produce after 60 days and when these develop in cooler weather they seem particularly sweet and crisp. Spinach struggles in the hotter weather so it’s a good choice for a fall harvest and Swiss chard – which grows into veggie goodness in 25 to 30 days – can last well into fall, too.
Check out more vegetable plants and their days to maturity for a fall harvest at Modern Farmer and on Pinterest. And for a few garden hacks using things around your house – compost and otherwise – check out the tips from HGTV.
Don’t Stop Watering!
Different from spring watering, the air and ground temps are already hot this time of year and so it’s important to keep your seeds evenly watered. If you can add some mulch to retain moisture that helps, too.
Even if this is your first garden of the year, you don’t need a lot of gardening know-how or a ton of space (a 10’ x 10’ area is plenty of room). Today’s Homeowner has video tutorials and suggestions for a small herb or vegetable garden, and Seeds Now has all the seeds you’ll need to get started, from root vegetables to leafy greens — including lettuces and arugula — and the “brassicas” – cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
Gardeners of Southshore
There’s so much to love about the master-planned community of Southshore with access to Life at the Lake! And while the Farmer’s Market happens every Saturday morning at Southlands just five minutes away – there’s something special about growing your own. See for yourself all our community has to offer from nearby amenities to the amazing array of model homes offered by Century Communities, Richmond American Homes and Toll Brothers. You’ll see ranch and two-story designs, priced between the $400s and the $700s.