Friday, August 15, 2008

Fall Garden & Looking Ahead

If you live in a region where you have a long growing season as we do, you may be lucky enough to grow a garden for nearly 9 months of the year. Our first hard frost typically doesn't happen until sometime in December. This means that we can plant nearly any vegetable in late August or early September and have plenty of time for a good harvest.

Our typical summers get too hot in July & August for many vegetable varieties to grow and produce a full harvest. This year, the hot weather came early and the leafy greens, such as spinach and buttercrunch lettuce that I planted in the spring went to see before I had a chance to harvest anything from them. If planted in September, after summer's heat has passed, I can get a nice harvest of fresh greens for our meals.

There are many plant varieties that have short growing periods of no more than about 75 days from germination until harvest. This means that if you plant by Labor Day, you will be harvesting fresh vegetables before Thanksgiving. Imagine planting the vegetables needed for your Thanksgiving meal and harvesting them fresh just in time for the holiday meal!

I find that planting for a fall garden is much more sucessful than the spring planting. In early spring, we have heavy rains that flood our garden each year. We don't have the option of moving the garden, so have had to adapt the method in which we plant. If the summer heat arrives early, many of the typically planted in spring crops can be burned. Things like peas, green beans, and other of the cool weather crops don't fare well in the heat. These are best planted in the fall when the cooler temperatures are more favorable for the plants.

One of the challenges of planting in the fall is buying seeds. By late June, most stores are no longer seling the seeds. I buy my seeds through Heirloom Acres Seeds. Thom & Renata Kirk, started Heirloom Acres Seeds as a family home business. The seeds they sell are all heirloom and organic. No hybrids! The seeds are of excellent quality and I have had great results from them. They offer fast turn-around on the orders and the customer service is the best I have ever found. I have been surprised at the low price that they have charged for their seeds. Many companies who sell the heirloom or organic seeds sell them for nearly twice what I have paid for my seeds in my orders. The packets are very generous in seed quantity, giving you plently of seed for a typical family garden. If bought in larger quantities, you are able to buy enough seeds for the entire growing season with enough left over for the following year. I like to use the extra seed to plant in little containers and sell to other home gardeners. Through selling the little plants, you can quickly recoup the cost of your entire seed purchase!

If you have never considered a fall garden, give it consideration. You may be surprised at the amount of harvest you can achieve.

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