Friday, August 4, 2017

Time to Plan and Plant the Fall Vegetable Garden by Patti O'Neal

Swiss Chard by Carol King
Colorado is well suited to fall gardening and winter harvest. While weather often dictates the length of the season, eleven months is not out of the question for Front Range gardeners. Imagine harvesting spinach for a great salad in November!

If you’ve never tried fall gardening, here are 5 reasons why you should.

1.  Gardens can be any size – So anybody can do it.
Fall crops are primarily greens and root crops, so they are very well adapted to container gardening, table top raised beds, and raised beds of all kinds.  Start with one container of spinach this year, you’ll catch the bug and increase it next year.

2.  There are many vegetables that thrive in fall Front Range gardens and can be planted now.
Beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale and chard can all be planted now.  August is the best time to plant arugula, cabbage, endive, spinach, cilantro and in September you can plant bush peas, radishes, Chinese greens, more spinach and lettuce and the list goes on. My fall garden has no fewer than 5 varieties of spinach, 10 varieties of lettuce and 4 Chinese vegetables, like Pac Choi and Bok Choi  and 3 kales to name a few. September or October is the time to plant garlic.

3.  Fall crops thrive in cooler weather and many fall crops are frost tolerant.
Cool crop vegetables develop their prime flavors when the ambient temperatures are cooler.  Get them germinated and up now so it is cooler when they begin to mature. 

4. Fall crops do not need a full 8 hours of sun each day.
Crops still require sun to photosynthesize these leafy vegetables are designed to thrive in less than 8 hours of full sun.  If you did not have the right place for tomatoes, you may have the perfect place for a pot of spinach, lettuce or chard which all will do well with 5-6 hours of light.

5.  Season protection is easy to obtain and apply.
There are many ways to protect your crops whether they are in containers or raised beds or even in ground that can be left on and removed for harvest or quickly applied if a frost happens.  These can be frost blankets, horticultural fabrics, cloches and even having a supply of old sheets handy if applied correctly. 

Why not try your hand at fall gardening? Having a fresh organic salad grown in your own garden for Thanksgiving will be a real treat!