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Planning for autumn (and winter)

August 16, 2018

It was just last week that I posted about the peak of summer in the garden. But gardeners always have to think ahead to the next season. It's no coincidence that I posted about fall veggies at this same time last year.

 

Departing from last year, I'm dropping my obsession with purple vegetables. Instead, I'm focusing on cold tolerance. Purple sprouting broccoli and 'Rubine' Brussels sprouts are out because they did not perform. In their place, I'm growing 'Red Russian' kale and 'Green in the Snow' Chinese mustard. The proven survivors of last winter's polar vortex were 'American Flag' leeks, rutabagas, and turnips, so they're in for this year too. Lastly, for fall and winter salads, I'm planting perennial arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia, not Eruca sativa), a mix of leaf lettuces, and 'Watermelon' radishes.

 

Leeks and rutabagas take longer to mature than the rest of my fall selections. I started leeks at the end of July and I just started rutabagas today. The rest can wait until about mid-September, but I'll likely start sowing as spaces in the garden open up. I've decided to start from seed as much as possible. A friend gave me some seeds and I want to make use of her generosity. She also offered to bake a pie if I grow rhubarb, so challenge accepted!

 

I could grow a greater variety of cool-season vegetables if I was willing to use greenhouse plastic like Northern gardeners do. At this time, I'm not interested in greenhouse plastic because it's more effort. Plastic is neither water- nor heat-permeable, so you have to remove it when there's rain in the forecast and you have to vent it on sunny days to avoid overheating your veggies. For now, I'll stick to an insulating mulch of straw and AG-30 row cover.

 

If you're not up for starting seeds yourself, you can always purchase seedlings, as I've done plenty of times in the past.

 

These leafy greens, root vegetables, and Brassica seedlings are available at Ginkgo Gardens.

 

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