How To Extend Veggie Garden Harvests
September 6, 2014
In many growing zones garden fresh goodness will end in just a few weeks, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are some fast-growing veggies that you can plant now and likely harvest before frost and frigid weather arrives. Unlike trying to resow rapid harvest crops in mid-summer, the cooler temperatures as we head into fall are perfect for them, as is the increased moisture that typically comes with autumn.
While it’s easy to prolong the tomato, pepper, and zucchini harvest with a cold frame – these are freshly sown, and can be grown in containers or ground soil. It makes perfect sense to put those spent rows of bolted-to-seed or already finished crops back into food production.
6 Fall Crops to Grow at Home
This is a great time to to scatter some cilantro/corriander seeds gathered from earlier in the season. Pepper the top of a wide container with fresh seed and you should get a few cuttings in before it’s all over. Sprinkle a little soil mix on top to help hold moisture on the seed for faster germination. The more crowded the pot is, the better. You won’t have to wait for a fat, busy plant to start snipping. In fact, this is probably the best way to grow cilantro throughout the gardening season. You get a harvest big enough to make dinner long before they bolt. By the way, you only have to buy 1 cilantro plant ever… it will give you tons of seed for fresh sowing, as will every crop you start. Let it dry on the plant before you pick it for storage.
Another cooler season crop that leaves a lot of gardeners frustrated with a spring sowing. You’ll actually have better results growing it in fall, because lengthening days at the beginning of the garden season actually make it bolt before it can give you an abundant harvest. It makes the perfect partner with the next fall planted crop on the dinner table too. Better hurry though, because it needs to be sown before September 10th.
If the heat arrives too quickly after garden planting in spring, lettuces can go to seed before you get to enjoy much of it too. Full-size head lettuces may not develop before frost arrives in some locales, but all those lovely leaf varieties will love the cooling temps and shorter days. Grab some fresh seed and sow a mountain of salad you’ll be harvesting in a month or so. Add some color and crunch with…
If you get more than the salads can bear you can pan-fry and roast radishes like potatoes. Mix them in with potatoes and onions. It’s quite tasty, and you won’t know they’re radishes either. You can grow the smaller round types just about anywhere as a fall crop, because they will be ready to harvest in about 35 days. The icicle-types take about 3 more weeks, but if frost holds off that long you’re good to go with either kind.
Depending on the cultivar you select, many will be able to harvest fully developed carrots sown in fall. If frost arrives too early, you can protect these veggies with a row cover in the ground or covering them with a large box if they’re in a container on the balcony. Cultivars like YaYa will be ready to pull in less than 60 days, and can expand that late lettuce salad even further.
Not the most popular veggie in the US, but if you haven’t tried them, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at the delicious flavor of these roots. Here’s one more crop that performs better sown in fall than spring. They also have the added benefit of winter storage with excellent shelf-life. Great fresh in salad, or used in soups, stews and roasted with other root vegetables. The leaves are edible too, turnip greens are a staple in Southern US cuisine. These too are fully ripe in 35-55 days, and can be covered if frost arrives early.
This is the time to plant that too, but you won’t be harvesting your bulbs until next summer.
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