Dear Neighbor,

Having the homestead spirit as I do, my desire is to have food growing as long as possible. There is still time to get two more rounds of gardening in: a late summer and fall garden.

Parts of my summer garden are first coming in, (my softball sized tomatoes, for instance) but I want to work my late summer garden, too, so I will do a little succession planting. The late summer garden seeds need to be planted by August 15  which will give you a harvest in October.  Harvesting in October…isn’t that exciting? A few great, late summer season plants are:

Bush beans

Broccoli

Brussels sprouts

Leaf lettuce

Radishes

Spinach

Leeks

Kale

Swiss Chard

Carrots

Collard greens

Sweet corn

These vegetables are the base of great salads and soups. In the spirit of preparedness, it is best to plan menus around what is in the garden, freezer and pantry. Having fresh food and obtainable food is what we strive for. Cream of Broccoli soup is  one of my favorites so we plant a good bit of broccoli. It is harvestable way into the winter.

If you have your first frost before October 15, then you will need to cover the garden at night near that time. You can cover each bed  with 2″ x 4″x 36″ fence panels. They come in 50 foot rolls for under $40. Bend them width wise making a small arch and secure with stakes and simply cover with thick plastic you can find at your local hardware store.  Use clothes pins to secure the edges in as many places as needed. I love this type of covering because they are simple, reusable and tall enough to get around in. If you want you can also bend rebar and create your “green house” affect but I like the fence panels better for small covers.

If your garden is still producing a lot and  you would rather wait to plant only a fall garden, the same vegetables can be grown for your fall garden, except for leaf lettuces (if you live in the north or mountains) beans and corn. You will need to plant your fall seeds by September 1 and plants by the 15th. Expect a November harvest.

The fall garden needs to be covered every night beginning September or before your first estimated freeze and until their harvest. (except coastal south. Depending on your weather you likely won’t cover at all)

In regards to a fall garden, don’t forget to plant garlic. They are best planted in the late fall, possibly after all your garden is harvested. They need full sun, deeply dug soil and lots of compost. They are heavy feeders and will grow over the winter and the garden year. No need to cover. The harvest can reap as much as ten times the amount planted. So if you want ten pounds of garlic, plant one pound.

Frankly, I love the fall garden. It is easy to work in it and there are really no bugs to deal with. If you do not already have your fall seeds, order them right away. My favorite seed store is Baker Creek. There catalogues are works of art and full of heirloom treasures.

Happy Homesteading, S