Wouldn’t it be nice to harvest fresh salad from your garden this fall and winter? As I said on Hometalk.com, depending on what part of the country you live in there is still time to plant cool season crops like lettuce, arugula, spinach, broccoli, chives, radishes and parsley. Some crops like bunching onions and garlic can be planted now too but don’t expect to harvest them until next summer.
Before you plant
1. Determine the average date of the first killing frost in your region.
2. Select crops that will reach maturity before the killing frost.
3. If it takes 30 days for the crop to mature, count backwards from the date of the first frost.
4. Check with your local county extension agent for the best varieties of vegetables for your region.
Prepare the site
1. Remove weeds and summer crops like tomatoes, beans, etc.
2. This is a good time to harvest annual herbs like basil and dry them in a cool, dry place. Remove the roots, tie the stems together with twine and hang them upside down.
3. If soil has settled in raised beds you may need to add more. You can also dig in organic materials like compost and soil amendments. Check with your local extension about the best amendments for your region.
4. Add fertilizer to soil according to directions.
5. Work the fertilizer in to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.
1. If it is getting late in the season to plant, you may want to plant a combination of seeds and transplants.
2. Site vegetables where they will receive 8 to 10 hours per day of full sun.
3. Apply a good layer of mulch (1 to 2 inches) to help retain soil moisture and reduce weed infestations.
4. Water seeds and transplants well and keep them watered, about 1 inch per week.
5. For leafy greens (including spinach, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli) you can apply an application of nitrogen fertilizer three to six weeks after planting. The term for this is "side-dress": The fertilizer should be at half strength applied in rows next to the plants. Avoid getting any fertilizer on the plants and possibly damaging them. Keep the fertilizer about 6 inches away from stems, cover it lightly and water it in.
Arugula: Sow seeds in September or transplants in September. Plants will be ready to harvest as early as 4 weeks after seeds are planted.
Broccoli: Broccoli can stand a freeze. Plant transplants in September.
Lettuce: Lettuce can stand a freeze. Plant in September and then sow seeds every 2 to 3 weeks for harvest into the New Year. Plant a mixture of types including Leaf, Romaine and Bibb.
Radishes: Sow winter radishes in fall. Harvest when they are 3 inches in size.
Look for Radish Red Meat or “Watermelon Radish” for a sweet radish that has red flesh.
Spinach: Spinach plants can stand a freeze. Plant transplants in September.