From the Desk of Ed Hume: Planting Fall Veggies

September 8, 2010 at 2:19 AM Leave a comment

The last four weeks and the next couple of weeks are times set aside for starting the Fall and Winter vegetable garden.  This is one of the vegetable gardening seasons that home gardeners often overlook.  What a shame, because with a little planning home owners can be picking fresh lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach, radishes, chard and several other vegetables, fresh from their own garden all Winter long.  Not only are the vegetables fresh, they have their full potential nutritional value, great flavor, and just think of the money one can save.
Hopefully you have already seeded or planted some of slow-to-mature Fall vegetables like carrots and beets.  If you haven’t you could try seeding them in a warm raised bed or a cold frame.   However, there still is time to seed out Winter lettuce, chard, and spinach.  Or if you have a cold frame you can also seed or set out starter plants of lettuce, spinach, or chard.  Root crops like radishes should be seeded, as root crops do not transplant very well without causing the roots to become misshaped.
Remember grandma and grandpa had a cold frame in which to grow their Winter vegetables.  Sounds old fashioned, but it is still a very easy, economical, and wonderful way to grow your own fresh vegetables over Winter.  Please take a few minutes and read my article on cold frame gardening at   You’ll be amazed at how easy and inexpensive it is to build a cold frame and how much pleasure you will get from growing some of your own produce during the Winter months.
Here are a couple of quick tips:
Outdoors in open soil- grow the Winter lettuce “Cornsalad,” Winter beets “Lutz green leaf,” and cold weather “Sammish” spinach,as well as  the shorter varieties of carrots.
In the cold frame, grow your favorite varieties of leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes, etc.  Notice I said leaf lettuce.  Head lettuce is too slow to mature and needs more warmth to mature.
If the weather gets exceptionally cold, be certain to cover the crops in the open soil with “row cover” like Reemay or lightweight material.  Leave the covering over the “inter vegetables until the temperatures rise above freezing again.  Likewise, the vegetables being grown in a cold frame will need protection during freezing weather.  Grandma and grandpa often used burlap or old moving blankets for this purpose.  As soon as the weather moderates, take off the covering so the vegetables get as much light and natural Winter warmth as possible.
You can use a slow release type fertilizer to give your Winter vegetables the nutrients they need.  Organic gardeners could use a weak solution of fish fertilizer or about half the recommended amount of an all-purpose organic vegetable garden fertilizer.  In other words, go light on feeding, but don’t starve the plants for the nutrients they need to produce a top quality nutritious crop.
It’s hard to beat the flavor of fresh vegetables, picked out of your own garden…so why not give it a try this Fall and Winter?

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