It’s time for fall planting

As much as I hate to do this, it’s time to start thinking about fall. I really love the summer and don’t want it to be fall yet. It just doesn’t seem like I have had a chance to enjoy summer this year!

However, it is time to begin planning and planting your fall garden. In the past, I would pick the vegetables that I planted in the spring and early summer and let them go once I harvested them. Not this year.

My family really enjoys lettuce, spinach, and other cool season leafy greens. I have also found a great way to cook kale (involves bacon - can’t go wrong with that!) and they really like this as well. Therefore, I am going to plant these right now so that we can enjoy them through the fall.

I have a raised bed in the garden and will plant my mixed greens in it. I love trying the unique and unusual greens and the mixes that are put together.

This past spring I came across of couple of really great mixes of greens from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds. We loved the Frisee & Radicchio Salad Blend (60 days) and the Lovely Lettuce Mesclun Blend (30-40 days).

Another green that we loved that added a bit of a kick to our salads was Wasabi arugula from Renee’s Garden. It was incredibly delicious, a bit spicy and very fast growing.

My son Ricky will eat these unusual greens in a salad but he always comments that “it tastes like I am eating weeds and grass.”

One of the mixes did in fact have lambsquarters in it. This is definitely considered a weed in most gardens and it kind of felt wrong picking and eating it when I am normally cussing at it as I pull it from my flower beds. It tastes pretty good and a one cup serving has the following daily serving values: 281 percent Vitamin A; 111 percent Vitamin C; 46 percent calcium; and 7 percent iron.

I have never tried extending the garden season in the past with row covers or cold frames and I am going to try it this year. I planted a new crop of a 45-day zucchini that will mature sometime in late September. I am going to create a mini-greenhouse over this zucchini and see how long I can keep picking.

The rule of thumb for planting your fall vegetables is to look at the seed packet and at the date to maturity. This is how many days it will take before you can harvest a crop. If you plant something this weekend that matures in 45 days, you should be picking around the end of September.

Fall frosts are the controlling factor in what you can plant. We tend to get our first frost in mid-October. Therefore, you should be able to get a couple of weeks of harvest from a 20-35 day crop if planted now.

You can extend this harvest by using a cover over the plants to protect them. In addition, we might get lucky like last year. If you recall last fall, it was much later into November before we had a killing frost.

Remember that the plants that love cooler temperatures will thrive in the fall weather but don’t delay your planting too much longer.