Monday, August 26, 2013

Fall Garden: What to grow during August-October in Zone 6 or other cold climate regions

We are moving towards September, and there are many vegetables you can be growing during this time. This week is a perfect time to plant salad greens and root crops. Bush beans can also be grown. As you can see from the first photo below, I currently have red leaf lettuce and kale growing in a small space (where I grew the broccoli this Spring); plus a teeny-tiny row of peas. I, also, planted collard greens in a bucket, and three other varieties of lettuce (buttercrunch, iceberg, and romaine).

Moreover, I am experimenting with the growing space. Instead of long narrow rows, I have planted the lettuce and kale in short wide rows.

progress after planting lettuce and kale two weeks ago

My papaw taught me to sprinkle (wood) ash over the surface of the ground along with your seeds. The nitrogen from the ash jump starts the germination process. In the first two photos below, lettuce and kale sprouted a couple of days after planting, which I attribute the success to the wood ash.



This is the same lettuce after planting two weeks ago
Furthermore, you can have lettuce among other greens quickly when you provide optimal growing conditions: compost, sun, and water. It took two days for the lettuce and kale to sprout, and will take approximately three to four weeks to harvest.  Lettuce and arugula will produce enough for two to four salads a week after 30 to 50 days after planting. 

Noteworthy to mention: if you tend to pick your greens as they grow rather before they seed, they will produce more for you. Don't rip up the whole plant, and don't cut the whole plant with scissors - just sparingly pick a leaf or two from each plant. The more you pick, the more that will produce (this is the same concept for fruit too).

lettuce and green onion harvest 30 to 40 days after planting

arugula harvest from spring

The baby leafs of spinach, kale, arugula, and collards are best to eat for digestion. As far as lettuce, however, I prefer to eat them when they are more mature; but if you're desperate for food - eat the baby leafs of lettuce!

I grew Spinach and arugula during the Spring this year, and the greens put off a flush (one bag full) within 30 days after planting. The take home message in this post is: grow greens, eat them young after 30 days for better digestion; and so they will produce more foliage.

arugula from this spring
spinach from this spring

Two weeks after planting, the lettuce has grown quickly

August through October is the perfect climate for growing greens -- root crops thrive in cooler climates as well. Greens tend to bolt (go to seed) before maturity, when the temperature is above 70 degrees. As mentioned, lettuce as well as other greens take 30-50 days after to planting to harvest. Actually, greens taste better when they're baby leafs! As you can see in the picture, directly above, the lettuce growing in the pot is doing excellent! If you don't have a growing space, just plant some seeds in a pot (and don't be scared to scatter many seeds in the soil). 

Also, I have to give credit to my wonderful compost for producing such beautiful lettuce and collard greens. The lettuce and collard greens have shot up quickly in the last two weeks after planting, and it's all thanks to the compost soil. As mentioned above, I also used ash to cover the seeds on top of the soil, which seemed to jump start all of my greens! Here are two blog posts on the benefits of compost as well as my personal compost system:

"What you need to know about Compost (& doing it for free)" and "Compost your food scraps...and get food back for free"

Furthermore, not only do greens benefit from this weather, but Root crops such as radish and onions will produce quickly within 30 to 50 days in the Fall season, as well. If you plant early at the middle of July, this will ensure an adequate growing season for Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Beets, Turnips, and the like. It is possible to grow in August or in September to produce a harvest of root crops, but of course it is best to sow seeds as early as you can.

one of the best broccoli from this Spring

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