Don’t Fall Behind With Your Garden
As the summer progresses and our gardens flourish, it’s time to starting planning what to plant in our fall gardens. Many plants such as lettuce, carrots and onions can be grown in a spring garden but truly thrive as cool weather crops, particularly in the flavour department. Preparing for your fall garden is much the same as what you would do in the spring, with a few other things to consider.
Fall gardens are typically planted in July and August. In the spring when we plant our gardens we are worried about planting to early and losing our precious plants to the last frost. With fall gardens you need to make sure you do not plant too late. You now need to factor in when you can expect the first killer frost. Across various regions in Canada, the average first killer frost is anywhere from mid-August to early November.
This date is important when you are deciding when you should be planting your fall gardens. The number of days until maturity (ready to harvest) is on the back of most seed packs and plant identification tags. Find out what the approximate first frost date is in your area and count backwards. It’s better to plant a little too early than too late.
Hardiness of plants
The hardiness of a plant refers to how much of a tolerance the plant has to cold temperatures. Typically categorized as tender (non-hardy) or hardy. Most hardy vegetables can survive a frost if left with little or no protection. Hardy plants include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, onions, radishes, spinach, and beets.
Various materials can be used to protect your fall garden from the anticipated frost. Young, smaller plants could be covered with a light sheet of plastic or even newspapers, larger plants could be covered with a container big enough to fit over the whole plant or a small structure made of a few stakes and some burlap.
Direct seeding your Fall garden
If you choose to sow your own seeds rather than purchase plants, consider letting the germination process take place indoors. Indoor conditions are ideal as the summer months are hot and dry and some seeds may not germinate in soil that is too warm, this also makes keeping the soil moist during the germination process more of a challenge.
In a previous post I talked about hardening off your plants. As most fall garden planting is done in the summer the plants need to be gradually exposed to the hot sun. Providing light shade for a few days after planting will give the plant a chance to adjust to the temperature and its new home without the added stress of a sunburnt plant. If you can plant your garden on a cloudy day that’s even better.
Insects and disease
Cool, moist weather in the fall creates the perfect environment for many plant loving diseases. Insects are also more abundant after populating for the summer months. If you choose to use pesticides as your plan of attack against these unwanted pests, make sure you look into what pesticides, if any, are legal to be used in your area.
The best defence against insects and disease is to maintain healthy, actively growing, strong plants. Just like our immune systems, weak plants are more susceptible to insect damage and/or disease. Remember to water thoroughly each time, avoiding frequent light watering. Although, at the seedling stage light frequent watering is easier on the little guys. Remembering to fertilize will help to maintain strong, healthy plants. Also, clean up any plant debris in the garden that may be keeping the pests around.
My Spring gardening
I thought I’d share a bit about how my spring garden is doing this year. My vertical shoe organizer wall garden is doing extremely well, we have enjoyed some romaine lettuce, garnished with some parsley and frozen some spinach. I’m sad to report though that my Topsy Turvy tomato plant had an accident and fell to the ground, making a few good breaks in the plant. Although, I do have faith in the Topsy Turvy as the plant is starting to make a comeback!! It appears to be worth more than the $2.00 I paid for it at Dollarama. I look forward to trying this again next year.
I have planted an Alfresco mix of leaf lettuce in a container as a companion plant to some carrots. I have to say this is by far the nicest lettuce I have had the pleasure of eating. I truly believe companion plantings produce more flavourful vegetables. My son has even eaten it, if you knew how picky of an eater my son can be you’d understand what a success this was.
What is a kohlrabi?
A kohlrabi is sometimes to referred to as a German turnip. Wikipedia describes the taste and texture of kohlrabi as ‘ similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet’ Kohlrabi reminds me of a less crunchy radish with a not so harsh flavour.
How to use a kohlrabi
I’ve already enjoyed kohlrabi from the garden this summer with a bunch still growing in the garden. I grew up eating kohlrabi and have always eaten them raw, sliced like a tomato with a dash of salt. I have been oblivious all these years to the fact that people actually cook them. I am still looking to try new recipes for kohlrabi so I can expand how I am used to working with kohlrabi in the kitchen. Kohlrabi is so good raw and I guess I never about cooking them, why change a good thing right? Now that I know, I need to learn more about this! I would love to hear of any tips or recipes that you may know.
We’ve also enjoyed some green beans, hot peppers and strawberries. We have lots yet to enjoy including carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. The best part is that it is saving me money in my grocery budget because now I get to shop in my backyard enjoying organic produce.
My free rhubarb plant appears to be happy in its new home but I’m not expecting much if any rhubarb at all this year from it. I also planted two more rhubarb plants that I had purchased but I accidentally severed one with the weed whacker. Oops! It should come back, my fingers are crossed. I have really enjoyed finally being able to devote sometime to growing my own garden this year and I am not quite ready to pack it in. Now is the time to get thinking about what I’m going to plant in my fall garden.
Have you made plans on how you are going to continue enjoy home-grown vegetables into the fall?
Post Contribution By: Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences through blogging in hopes of helping others realize their gardening abilities.While being a single mom of two and working in a sales and marketing position, Katrina runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.
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