Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Planning for Fall

     I know, it's hot out and we are in the worst of the summer (though we are out of that really terrible heat wave for the moment).  However, August 1 to September 15 (maybe a little later on each end of that date range for central Virginia) is time to begin planning and planting the fall garden.  I used to think that, when summer was over, gardening was over for the season.  And that was the case for the most part when I lived in north-central Indiana.  But here in VA, we have an extended fall gardening season.  It is far more pleasant to be out in the garden in the fall than the dog days of summer!
     What can you plant now?  I planted some Swiss chard a few weeks ago and intend to make successive sowings for the next few months (later sowings may need to be grown under cover in the fall and winter).  The plants are coming up and doing well, though there is some damage from bugs (which you cannot see when the greens are cooked!).  I recently planted carrots, which can be tricky in the heat to get to germinate:  one rule, water water water. Fall turnip and mustard green crops (see above) can go in now too. Wait a few more weeks to sow kale and beets- beets especially need to be kept moist until they germinate (some people soak the seeds overnight, then cover the area with damp newspaper or old boards and check underneath daily for sprouting).  Broccoli and other cole crops can go in the ground soon as hardened seedlings (seeds might not work in the heat).  The only veggie that needs to wait until soils temps cool, around Labor day to mid-September, is lettuce.  Lettuce seed is very sensitive to soil temperature, so you need to wait for that cool down.
     Cooler days are coming and with them the "palette" of vegetables change, but what a pleasure to garden in the fall.
     Happy gardening!

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