Play it Cool in Your Fall Garden and You’ll be Good to Grow
If you think the end of summer means your vegetable gar- dening days are done, you’ll need to reconsider. The weeks when summer fades into fall are actually an opportune time to plant cool-weather crops. Fall is a great time of year for planting vegetables. Some of nature’s most nutritious greens and veggies thrive in cooler temperatures. Planting them now, at summer’s end, can ensure a bountiful fall harvest. Plus you’ll save a bundle by avoiding the produce aisle in your grocery store for a few more months. The sunny, cooler weather of autumn is perfect for many
vegetables. With increased rainfall and temperatures rang- ing between 60 and 80 degrees in the day and higher than 40 at night, your plants suffer less, increasing your likeli- hood of good harvest. You can even cope with frost; some hardy vegetables can thrive without frost protection, and covering less resistant plants when frost threatens can keep them thriving. The secrets of successful fall planting don’t differ much from the techniques you’ve used during high season. Cool crops will need at least six hours of sun daily, ample water and a steady supply of much-needed nutrients. You can get a jump-start by planting transplants. Seed germination of cool crops during late summer requires much attention to detail. Transplants are a quicker, easier route to ensure success.
Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetables and herbs in North America, offers some quick tips for picking the right plants for your fall garden: * Choose fast-growing, leafy cool crops like broccoli,
Swiss chard, lettuce, kale, spinach, collards and arugula. Leafy vegetables are actually harder to grow in the summer, when the heat can cause them to “bolt,” forming flowers and seeds. Bolting leaves edible portions tasting bitter. You could choose to plant two rounds of these vegetables, in spring and again in late summer.
* Don’t delay. The ideal time to plant your fall crops is be- fore the end of August, although if you missed that window, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have a successful fall harvest. It just might take more time and ingenuity. * Pick a place. Your existing garden is the perfect place to plant cool weather crops. Remember, frost flows downhill like water, so spots at the top of a slope or in south-facing locations will remain warmest. * You can also plant your fall crops in raised beds, which are easy to cover when frost threatens, or in pots that can be brought inside when temperatures dip too low. * Know how they grow. Pay close attention to “days to maturity” information listed on plant tags. You’ll want to give plants enough time to produce before killing frost ar- rives.
* Good gardening practices will get your fall garden
growing. Loosen soil before you plant and mix in some all-natural fertilizer, like Bonnie Plants Herb and Vegetable
Plant Food. Made from soybean oilseed extract, this food contains 150,000 nutritional and vital organic compounds including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, enzymes, plant hormones and carbohydrates, it’s an excellent source of nutrition in home gardens. Consider these popular plants from Bonnie, Packman Broccoli - This hardy vegetable develops best during the cool season. It matures in 45 to 55 days and has large, bright green, mildly flavored domed heads. Plant transplants 18 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart. Top Bunch Collards - This hybrid is heavy yield- ing, early maturing, and more uniform than traditional varieties. The leaves are upright, broad, and a beautiful, waxy, deep green. These collards grow best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. Like all collards, they are rich in vitamins and sweetened by frost. Space transplants 36 inches apart in rows 36 inches apart. Spinach - A cool-weather vegetable related to beets and Swiss chard, Bonnie’s Spinach is a fast-growing plant. It yields many leaves in a short time in fall. Although it prefers full sun, spinach is one of the few vegetables that produce a respectable harvest in partial shade. With some advanced planning, active attention, and the right choice of plants, you can continue to enjoy your garden and fresh, flavorful produce, long after the dog days of summer are done. To learn more about cool season varieties and helpful hints on getting your garden growing, visit www.bonnieplants.com
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Enjoying the Fall Garden’s Bountiful Harvest
try planting a dwarf apple tree instead. As the temperatures drop, enjoy the season’s harvest by incorporating locally grown produce into the menu. Start review- ing new recipes to try for family and friends and test their reactions. With the hearty flavors of freshly grown and harvested veg- etables from the garden, everyone will be clamoring for more.
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sonal tradition to cook up together annually. Whether you’ve grown your own produce or
When the calendar turns to fall months, tem-
peratures drop and local football teams come to mind. With the approach of the cooler weather, many of us also begin to yearn for the warmth of comfort foods like hearty soups and stews or freshly baked pies, but these traditional favorites need not be boring and unhealthy. A modern take on comfort foods uses what is fresh and available during the season, but also explores new ingredi- ents and stretches your imagination to look at old ingredients or recipes in new ways. Regardless of where in the country you live, fall produce is becoming abundant- ly available. For some regions, families have begun making their annual pilgrimage to the local orchard to pick apples or pears, and pumpkins are maturing in the backyard garden waiting to be turned into jack-o- lanterns. But even if these crops aren’t possible to grow in your area, fresh autumn favorites like pumpkins, apples, parsnips and kale are still most likely making frequent appearances at local farmers markets and grocery stores.
Roast them, stew them, can them or bake them. Pumpkin, squash, root vegetables, apples and pears make for great cuisine that the whole family can enjoy. For a new take on old favorites, try adding rutabaga slices to your au gratin potato recipe or
pop some cubed squash in while cooking up your family’s favorite beef stew. Get the whole family involved and take the kids along to the market to find new vegetables to sample. Getting everyone interested in new flavors can be exciting. Sample some unfamiliar items and find new favorites. Kids will enjoy comparing the flavors of roasted carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, yams, potatoes, jicama and squash when mari- nated in a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Decide which flavors your family prefers and make this a sea-
pick it up at the market, America’s Test Kitchen and Miracle-Gro have teamed up to provide fresh new recipes and tips on fall gardening at www. scotts.com/GroYourOwn
. Sample some of these delicious recipes while incorporating fall plants and produce into the menu and even learn which fall crops are best to grow in your area of the country.
Of course, nothing compares with the satisfac- tion of growing your own produce. Even if you didn’t plant a garden this year, why not make plans for one next year? With just a sunny place for a container on the balcony or a small plot in the backyard, you can easily plant your own gar- den to grow fresh squash, rutabagas or carrots in the spring to be enjoyed by your family next fall. If you prefer the crunch of a freshly picked apple,
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