I think I have finally finished planting the fall garden. For the moment, that is. There’s always something else that gets planted in a few days, or weeks. Gardening here is mostly year round, so it’s hard to say where the fall garden ends and the winter garden begins – and so on. Occasionally someone will ask me “is your garden done yet?” I always smile and tell them that the garden is NEVER done yet for me!
The fall garden actually started several months ago, when I started seeds for Brussels Sprouts. The Impact Community Garden folks asked me if we could grow them, and it sounded good to me. They were the first fall vegetable to get planted out, back in early July. They are doing well here, and starting to get tall. They have a long way to go before we see any sprouts though!
I planted out broccoli, kale and kohlrabi in early August, from seeds I started in late June. Those plants are nicely established already. I am using both shredded paper and straw for mulching. And I’ve already started using the soaker hoses for irrigation. We may have had 9 inches of rain in June, and 5 inches in July, but that doesn’t help these newly set plants one bit! We’ve seen less than one inch so far in August.
The cabbage plants were set out more recently. I had to wait until a spot was freed up in the row where bush beans were growing. Sometimes I have the fall veggies follow the squash, but this year the squash is still hanging on. I decided to plant garlic in that row, because the squash will definitely be done for by garlic planting time in late October! I am a big fan of succession planting, but sometimes the plan needs to be flexible.
I wasn’t sure if I would plant carrots for fall, but I had a lot of seed and an empty bed so I went ahead. I used row cover material to keep the soil moist after planting and it worked like a charm again. I first tried this method in spring, after reading about Daphne’s success with it. I sowed the carrot seed in rows about 8 inches apart, then covered the seed with Promix seed starting mix. After that I watered the bed and covered it with Agribon row cover material. The carrots were up in 7 days time. Now it’s time to remove the Agribon and do a little weeding and thinning. Last year we were enjoying the fall carrots from late October through December. I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I am finally figuring out how to grow carrots. Now I need to work on my onion growing skills!
Next door to the carrots I have a bed with radishes and celery planted. The celery has been there for a couple of months, but the radishes were sown just a bit before the carrots. I have China Rose, Red Meat, Green Meat and Minowase Summer Cross planted there. Hopefully they will give us some nice radishes for fall and winter use.
On down from those beds I have one cold frame bed planted with kohlrabi and some scallions. You can see a bit of the basil that is still going strong in the bed to the right.
Next door I have some lettuce and arugula planted. Much of the arugula is self-sown from where I let it go to seed this spring. I knew some of the seed would fall to the ground before I collected it all, and it looks like I was right. I wish all the fall stuff had been this easy to get going! Hopefully there will be salads in our future. Some of the arugula has already gone on pizza.
I’m adding compost everywhere before planting, and I have lots of it at the moment. While it is definitely great for the plants, it is not weed free! I have quite a few tomato seedlings coming up in some of the beds, in places where tomatoes have not been growing recently. Must be the compost! My compost piles don’t always heat up enough to kill seeds. I avoid putting any weeds with seeds in the compost bins, but tomatoes are fair game. I also have some squash sprouting in some of the plantings. It’s no big deal to weed out tomato and squash sprouts though, compared to some things that show up from other sources.
My latest planting was some turnips. I sowed white salad turnips like Hakurei and Oasis as well as some Purple Top White Globe. I planted these in the kitchen garden bed near the house, where garlic was planted earlier. That bed is about 4×30 feet, and we definitely don’t need that many turnips, so I planted the rest of the bed with buckwheat as a cover crop and bee forage. Buckwheat is a great green manure plant, and bees of all kinds absolutely love it, as well as butterflies. It should be blooming in a little over 30 days from sowing. I will till it in before it sets seed, which will be sometime before first frost.
All that’s left to plant is some cover crops in the main garden, and spinach in one of the cold frame beds. It’s hard to get spinach to germinate outside until the weather gets a little cooler. It’s usually late September or early October before that happens here. But I can sow some cover crops in the main garden as space is available. I’ve got seed for oats and daikon radish in addition to the buckwheat. All of these will winter kill here, but the big radishes will help open up the soil as well as add organic material when they are tilled in next spring. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our fall garden activities, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA!