August heat has everyone dreaming of fall and some cooler temperatures. This summer has been brutal with its heat and humidity. Many days were nearing 100 with very little rain in our area. Other areas of the country got devastating rains. On that note, I would like to take a moment to say that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been adversely affected by the rains and severe weather across the south and midwest. As our summer gardens are winding down, it is time to think about our fall cool crop gardens. Many things thrive in the garden into the fall and early winter. Here, we will explore just a few of the options available to keep a harvest coming in from your garden. Most can be bought already started from your local garden center.
Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Collards, and Lettuces Many of these leafy lovelies are sweetened when kissed by autumn dew. These can be sown directly into the ground or started indoors or out and hardened off to the weather a little at a time before putting them into your garden. I prefer the direct approach myself so my plants are acclimated as soon as they germinate. Lettuce will take some frost, but kale, Swiss chard, and spinach will grow most of the winter into spring. It will start growing again in spring as soon as the weather warms.
Brussel Sprouts These less than favorite gems are making a comeback due to the growing popularity of low-carb and ketogenic diets and gluten-free living. They are nutritional powerhouses. Their taste is much more appealing when they are planted in a fall garden so they are minus the bitter taste that hasn’t won them any popularity contests. I have picked Brussels sprouts in January. Cabbage
Many people make the mistake of planting these garden favorites in their spring garden and harvesting them in the heat of the summer. This makes for a bitter, if not hot, taste. The summer taste has been compared to that of radish by some. The secret to a nice, mellow, smooth sweetness is to harvest in cooler weather. It is considered a healthy powerhouse with its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and richness in glucosinolates. Broccoli
No matter how you look at it, you cannot deny the wonderful health benefits of this green favorite. Even children can be convinced to eat this veggie, although you may have to smother it with cheese. Children can also be persuaded to eat raw broccoli, especially if you let them dip it in a sauce or dressing. I tell the kids that they are little trees. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins K and C, a good source of folate (folic acid), and also provides potassium and fiber. Vitamin C – builds collagen, which forms body tissue and bone, and helps cuts and wounds heal faster and better. Fiber helps to promote digestive health.
Carrots will grow twice as sweet in cooler weather than they do during the warmer season, not to mention they just grow better in general. Starting carrots from seed is the recommended way to grow this root food. Do not start the seed indoors. If you get them started now you will have plenty of time before the frost comes. Carrots are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health, and may be responsible for the significant decrease in glaucoma risk This is only a small portion of the things that can be planted in your garden for fall. Anything can be planted but be sure that you have time before the frost to actually harvest!
If you love the feeling of accomplishment that you get from your summer garden, why not continue that into the cooler months of fall and early winter? It is never a bad time to garden. You just have to know what to plant and when to reap to get the best rewards for your efforts. HAPPY GARDENING.