Tips for what to plant now for flavorful fall harvest
Toward the end of August and early September, conditions are prime to plant leafy greens, herbs, broccoli and root crops for fall harvest. These plants aren’t made for the long and intensely hot days of summer. The late-summer with cooling night time temperatures and shorter days with less sunshine offer them the right conditions.
Flavor note: Green leafy vegetables — kale, spinach, lettuce, collard greens and chard — also stay sweeter as the sun gets less intense. If you love your salad, then plant these greens now.
Also plant broccoli and root crops such as beets, carrots and radishes. Since root crops take time to develop, read the seed packets and look for varieties that mature in 60 days or less.
Root crops can withstand light frost and with deep ground freeze protection, can even be picked well into the winter.
Tip: Cauliflower, unlike its cousin broccoli, doesn’t get a high rating as it takes too long to mature when planted this time of year.
Basil, parsley, cilantro, chervil and dill are great herbs to plant in late August and early September. Just know they won’t survive a frost unless you provide them with frost protection.
Tip: Though we often have an early frost toward late September, we usually get right back to warm weather and good growing conditions.
Herbs are also easily grown in containers. By planting them in containers that can be easily moved, they can be brought indoors for overnight frost protection.
Whether you move them inside or cover them outdoors, herbs can keep offering their flavorful harvest right up until a killing freeze. And if they are in containers, then keep them indoors to enjoy throughout the winter.
Tips for late-season planting
The most important step to get plants established is to keep seeds and seedlings evenly moist until the plants are a few weeks old.
Make sure the sprinkler system is adjusted to water seeded areas evenly.
Schedule watering times carefully to avoid over- or under-watering new seeds.
Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every other week.
Apply a layer of well-seasoned compost to nurture the soil.
Plan ahead for frost protection.
With the danger of early frost increasing throughout September, it’s important to be ready with frost protection before you hear the freeze warning a few hours before frost.
Use old sheets and blankets — or specialty frost protection available at garden centers — to cover plants.
Avoid using plastic as a cover because it offers no protection and leaves touching the plastic will frost.
You can even string old Christmas tree lights (not LED lights because they have no warmth) on stakes under the coverings to keep your plants really warm.
Don’t give up on the growing season yet — plant fall harvest flavor in your garden this weekend.
Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.