Hi guys! I’m Rick; my wife and I are big-time gardeners and real food enthusiasts. This article was posted on the bakerette.com thanks Jen for giving me this opportunity! For most gardeners, July is a busy time. If your garden is anything like mine the tomatoes are just getting started, you’ve probably just picked your first summer squash and your mouth is watering waiting for the first melons or ripe peaches that are only a few weeks away. Summertime gardens are a real tradition in North America, from June to September gardens all over the country are bursting with fresh veggies. But did you know that fresh garden veggies don’t need to be limited to just the 4 summer months? Growing a year-round garden is easy, with just a little thought and planning you can extend your garden well into November, AND with some simple structures to offer protection you can be harvesting veggies year-round even in USDA Zones as cold as zones 3 to 6.
For the next few posts, I’m going to teach you all about growing a year-round garden! The best part of growing a year-round garden is fall, winter, and spring gardens are a lot less work! There is not nearly as much weeding, watering or bugs in the off seasons! July is the time to start thinking about your fall and winter garden so let’s jump right into it!
Nearly anything you grow in the spring will also grow in the fall and often it will grow even better in the fall. So look around your garden now and start finding spots where you can get some things planted. August 1st is the target date to start your fall planting in Zones 4 to 7 (if you live in a warmer zone that date will shift later in the year). So what kind of plants do you want to be thinking about right now? Starting in August you can begin planting lettuce, spinach, carrots, turnips, beets, Asian greens (things like tatsoi and pac choi), kale, and even green onions. Just plant these seeds directly into your garden in any empty spots you have. Keep in mind that August in most parts of the country is HOT! So you do need to give these new plantings a little extra attention and some extra water to help the new plants germinate and thrive. If you start your own seedlings you can get them going indoors on August 1st and save space in the garden until the seedlings are ready to go out in mid-September.
Also start checking your garden centers and asking about fall seedlings. Year-round gardening is becoming more popular around the country so more nurseries are stocking seedlings for the fall. Look for broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce and kale transplants. Try to get these into the garden as soon as they start showing up at the nurseries in late August and early September. Here’s a quick summary of some great fall crops and what to expect for harvest times. Of course, my planting dates are based on a zone 4,5, or 6 garden (which represents a big portion of the US and Canada). If you are lucky to live in the warmer areas of the country you would plant later and also be able to enjoy your crops later into the winter. A good rule of thumb is to start your fall plantings about 60 days before your first fall frost.
- Lettuce – Plant August 1st to 21st – Should start being ready around October 1st, and last unprotected till about November 15th
- Spinach & Swiss Chard – Plant August 1st to 31st. Your early plantings will be ready to eat in October later plantings with protection can last all winter!
- Cole Crops (Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Kohlrabi) – Set out seedlings as close to August 15th as possible, should be ready to eat in mid-October and last into November
- Asian Greens (Tatsoi, Pac Choi, Mizuna) – Plant August 1st to 21st ready to eat in late September or early October.
- Carrots – Plant August 1st to 21st – Ready to harvest November 15th and will last till February with just a little protection
- Beets & Turnips – Plant August 1st to 15th – Harvest leaves as greens October 1st, small roots November 1st
Your early August plantings will start reaching maturity around the end of September just as your summer garden is winding down. Those plantings along with any transplants you get in should give you fresh produce until November when the weather really starts to get cold.
Next month we will talk about some simple structures you can build like mini hoop houses or cold frames that will protect those plants into December and January. Also if you plant more seeds in mid-September and protect them with a Cold frame they will sit quietly all winter and burst to life in February and March. This will give you some of the earliest harvests you have ever had! For a more in-depth look at growing a year-round garden be sure to check out my year-round gardening series. It includes 9 posts that really get into the details of how to grow veggies year round!!