The summer months are getting oh so much closer to the end. While the heat and humidity may not support that claim, the fact is, time is moving forward and eventually the summer vegetable gardening season will come to a close. That does not mean though that your gardening is over for the year. The use of a cold frame will still yield plenty of crops such as lettuce, spinach, kale, beets and chard well after Jack Frost nips at your nose.
Now is the perfect time to start planning that fall garden. Your mind is already on gardening with all of those tomatoes and cucumbers you are growing (or trying to grow), so get that pencil and paper out and start charting your course for the extended cooler weather season.
What I like to do is list the items that I am going to focus in on for the fall. Normally my inventory includes those items I mentioned previously plus a few more. I change it up from year to year just as I would for my spring/summer garden.
A lot of your leafy vegetables are excellent choices for the cooler months. I even read in an issue of Mother Earth News Magazine how a light touch of frost on your kale will enhance its flavor. I have not tried that myself, but if you do, or have, please let me know how it turned out for you.
A couple of good choices for quick growth include radish and turnips. They mature quickly and have great flavors. Keep an eye on some of those veggies you were meaning to start for the fall as we are at that point in time where you better get them started because they will need time to grow. Examples include rutabaga and spaghetti squash. If you use cold frames, the temperature won’t be as big an issue as sunlight will be, so get them started right away.
If you are like me, chances are you will be using the same garden areas in the fall that you used in the summer. The soil is going to be depleted with many nutrients, which does not necessarily mean you won’t be able to grow anything, it just means the growth could be stunted or the flavors of what you are growing won’t be as ideal.
After you remove your summer plants and before you plant your fall harvest, enrich your soil with the nutrients it needs. If you keep a compost pile, that would be perfect. Take your compost and mix it in. Don’t be afraid to add in some blood meal, fish emulsion or seasoned manure for your nitrogen, bonemeal for your phosphorous and seaweed, wood ash or green sand for your potassium. If you are going to add these items from store bought packages, be sure to pick items that contain other valuable nutrients as well, such as magnesium, calcium and so on.
But to reiterate, if you are keeping your own compost and better yet, vermicompost, then those items will give you just about everything your fall garden will need to thrive.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the monthly Seeds Club.
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