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Summer Seeding for a Fall Harvest

August is one of my favorite months in the summer. Tomatoes and peppers are ripening. Days are warm and daylight lasts till 8pm.  August is the perfect month to start seeds. This gives you a chance to start seeds you want to enjoy well into fall.  I had some spinach and radish go to seed before I was able to enjoy their bounty due to high heat this July.

If you’re lucky and in a warmer climate you could plant some zucchini and be enjoying zucchini bread by Halloween! Some great short season zucchini varieties to try are early summer yellow crookneck and cocozelle summer squash both only take 42 days to maturity!

With the soil warm it is a perfect time to direct sow your Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. These vegetables are in the brassica family. Which seem to taste better with a little frost on them.

You still have time to get a full crop of lettuce, mustard, spinach, and chard growing in the garden. These are all great crops that you can succession plant all through the summer.  Even with a shorter growing season you can eat these as micro greens since these crops don’t have a ripening period, like an apple or an orange.

Don’t forget your roots crops! Like the brassica family root crops don’t mind a little cold snap towards the end of the season, in fact they taste sweeter with a light frost. So find those leftover seed packets half full with beets, radish, carrots, turnips and parsnips!

It’s too early to plant your garlic and shallots but it’s not too early to get your fall garlic and shallot order in! If you’re looking for a great flavored garlic try Inchelim Red or the Spanish Roja! But hurry these varieties go fast!

More varieties below for fall harvest.

Peas

Greens

Pak Choi

Rutabaga

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Parsley

Cilantro

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Harvesting Garlic

Garlic may be one of the most anticipated crops to harvest each year. You planted them all the way back in October, it’s now July and you are ready for some fresh garlic! Garlic harvest can be a little tricky. Depending on your weather, when you planted them, and what varieties you planted, the harvest can be anywhere between late spring and late summer. That’s a big gap! So the big question is how do I know when my garlic is ready to harvest?

 

Since the bulb is in the ground, you are going to look at the leaves. Watch your plants and not the calendar.  The leaves will start to brown from the bottom up. Once about half of the plants’ leaves have browned this is a good sign you may be close to harvest time. Scrape soil away from the bulb by hand to check the bulbs maturity. If the bulb looks too small or the skin is still loose, cover the bulb back up and pat down the soil. Once you have a nice-sized bulb and the skin is tight, you can stop watering for about a week.

It’s important not to wait until all the leaves have died back before you harvest. Without the wrappers protecting the bulb, the cloves will start to separate. This will create some difficulty harvesting your bulbs and they will not store as well.

     

When harvesting, carefully loosen the soil around the bulb with a garden spade or fork. Grab the garlic bulb from the base and pull up.  Brush off the soil but don’t wash the roots since you will need to dry and cure them for long term storage. If you plan to eat some right away you can trim roots and leaves at harvest time.

 

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Succession Planting

Have you ever planted all of your lettuce all in one batch and now its harvest time and you have so much lettuce you don’t know what to do with it? I know this has happened to many gardeners. The trick is to succession plant.  Succession planting is to follow one crop with another. This is a really great tool to learn so you can maximize your gardens yield and enjoy crops for longer. I have come up with a simple chart that will help you know what intervals you should be planting your crops.

Succession Planting Guide

Arugula- 14 Day intervals

Bok Choi-  10 Day intervals

Beets- 14 Day intervals

Bush Beans- 10 Day intervals

Broccoli- 14 Day intervals

Carrots- 21 Day intervals

Cucumbers- 21 Day intervals

Endive- 14 Day intervals

Head Lettuce- 10 Day intervals

Kohlrabi- 10 Day intervals

Leaf Lettuce- 7 Day intervals

Melons- 21 Days

Mustard Greens- 10 Day intervals

Peas- 10 Day intervals

Radishes- 7 Day intervals

Spinach- 7 Day intervals

Summer Squash- 30 Day intervals

Sweet Corn- 7 Day intervals

Swiss Chard- 21 Day intervals

Turnips- 14 Day intervals

 

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Swiss Chard Grow Guide

Swiss Chard Growing Guide

Also know as silverbeet, Swiss chard is a member of the beet family for its edible greens, which can be used in salads or even fried. Its tender leaves taste like spinach, and can be harvested continuously throughout the season.

When to Sow: Early Spring, Fall in mild Winter areas.

Sun/ Part Shade: Sun/ Part shade in summer

Seed Spacing: 1 inch

Row Spacing: 18 inches

Planting Depth: 1/2 inch

Days to Germinate: 7-10 days

Days to Maturity: 85 days

Soil and Fertilizing

Plant after the last spring frost. The soil must be well-drained, and enriched with vegetable food. Feed every four weeks for best results.

Watering

Consistent moisture is important to Swiss chard, especially as the plants grow larger. Water every days.

Harvesting

Break or cut the outer leaves off at the base when they’re 6-8 inches wide. Pick and discard old or tough leaves and flower stalks. Avoid damaging the growing point in the center of the plant. If you plan to harvest whole plants, make succession planting through late summer, so you won’t run out.

Special Notes

  • Swiss chard is a mid-summer green that grows well in heat, but will also last through fall’s first frost.
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How to Grow Spinach

Spinach Growing Guide

 Spinach is one of the healthiest green vegetables you can grow. It’s packed with iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, various B-complex vitamins, and a variety of other nutrients, all in a leaf that tastes delicious in sandwiches, salads, and as a cooked side. Spinach loves cool weather, making it a garden favorite for early spring and late fall.

When to Sow: Early spring, or fall before ground freezes

Sun/Part Shade: Part shade

Seed Spacing: 1 inch

Row Spacing: 12-18 inches

Planting Depth: 1/4 inch

Days to Germinate: 7-21 days

Days to Maturity: 43-60 days

Soil

It’s best to have your soil tested before planting, so you know what nutrients and pH adjustments may be needed to support your crop. For a thorough soil test, consult your local county extension office.

Spinach favors loamy, fertile soil with a loose texture and a high percentage of organic matter (compost works well), with a pH of 5.5-6.8.

Planting

Air temperatures of 50-70° F, with soil temperatures between 35 and 45° F, make the best conditions for spinach. If the temperature rises above 80˚ or the days get longer than 14 hours, spinach will bolt (flower) and become bitter.

Sow spinach seeds directly in the garden, as spinach doesn’t take to transplanting. You can still get an early start in spring, however, by planting up to eight weeks before the last frost. Late September to mid-October are the best times for fall sowing, possibly even a bit later in the deep South.

A place where the plants are shaded during the hottest part of the day is ideal. If you grow spinach in containers, be sure to move them into the shade as necessary.

When you thin your spinach seedlings, keep the culled plants. The tender leaves are tasty in salads.

Watering

Give your plants about one inch of water once a week if you don’t get enough rain. Be sure not to overwater, or you may run into problems with disease. A layer of mulch around the plants will help them conserve water.

 Harvesting & Storing

Mature spinach presents a rosette of 5-6 leaves. Unlike plants like collards or turnips, however, the leaves will not grow back when you pick them, so harvest the entire plant at once.

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For soil testing or other questions specific to your growing climate, please contact your local county extension office. Visit https://nifa.usda.gov/partners-and-extension-map to find the office nearest you.