Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fall in love with gardening again

Going Green Mama is dusty but happy as she writes this after an evening in the garden....

This gardening season was a bust. Thirty-plus days of 90-degree weather, and I can't recall the last time it rained. My dozen tomato plants produced a half-dozen usable fruit; my lettuce bolted from the beginning and the asparagus beans, the only thing that seemed to grow, attracted wasps. Lots of them.

And so this week, as the temperature dropped, I began the task of ripping up the remains of the summer season. And this week, I've listened as coworkers complained that their gardens were worthless, and isn't it sad that the growing season is over.

I've got news for you ladies: It ain't over yet.

Yep, even in Indiana, we can still keep up with round 2. The fruits of your fall labor can at least keep going until November, and perhaps even longer. Yes, even if you didn't plant your fall garden in July or August like they advise. Yes, you can, even in the north.

I needed convincing too. And I took an online fall gardening class last year. There, I learned that even in the far north, there are tricks you can do to extend your growing season. Here's a few:

Check your seed packets. Look for that growing season and back-track from your region's frost date. You'd be surprised how many seeds are still good for at least another round of planting. Root vegetables like carrots and radishes are good, as are some lettuces, peas, broccoli and spinach.

Think spring. September-October is a great time to start planting things like garlics, shallots and other over-wintering produce. You'll be happy come spring!

Keep warm. Invest in straw as mulch for your plants, or build your own cold frame if you're inclined.

Want to know more? Check out your local extension or read Eliot Coleman's The Winter Harvest Handbook and Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.

What are your favorite tips for extending the growing season?


Anonymous said...

Woohoo!! You're inspiring me. It's not too late to plant fava beans either.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

I tried planting a fall garden, but so far it hasn't gone well. But live and learn, right! Now I know more about how to do it better next year.

Truffula said...

Thanks for your cheerleading on this topic! Yup, it's been a discouraging summer. And, if all of the normal summer challenges weren't enough, the stink bugs posed a new one. After reading your post, I headed right on over to our library website. "Four-season Harvest" looks like its on the shelf at the branch I usually visit. Guess where I'm going on Monday? :-)


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