Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thinking About the Fall Garden

Yesterday I received a seed catalog in the mail for "Winter 2012".  It was well-timed, as I've been thinking (now that most of the summer garden is planted) that it's time to go through my seeds and see if I need to order anything for fall.

Around here, many cold-season plants will survive well into the winter, if not right through.  The tricky part is getting them to grow to an appreciable size before it gets too cold, or the days get too short.  If you plant too early, the plants will bolt (go to seed) when they're about half-grown.  If you plant too late, they won't be able to produce enough energy to grow, and they'll sit in the garden with four leaves on them, waiting for spring.  I have yet to hit the sweet spot in the middle where they reach an agreeable size, then sit in my garden all winter waiting for me to eat them.

This year, though, I have a secret weapon.  The amazing, the incredible: HG-16!  HG-16 is a publication of the Maryland Extension, which lists two pages of common vegetable crops with useful planting info like - ahem - spring and fall planting dates for central Maryland!  It also gives spacing recommendations, and recommendations about how many feet of row to plant for each person you're planning to feed.  These things are, of course, variable from one garden to the next, but the recommendations give you a place to start.

According to HG-16, I can/should start planting many of my fall crops soon.  Here's the list so far:
  • spinach                       Aug 1 - Sept 5
  • loose-leaf lettuce        July 15 - Sept 1
  • romaine lettuce           July 20 - Sept 1
  • broccoli*                     July 20 - Aug 20
  • carrots                        June 15 - Aug 1
  • cabbage*                      July 10 - Aug 20
  • fava beans                               ?
  • garlic                          Oct 15 - Nov 15
* These dates are for setting out transplants

I'll have to order seeds for carrots, cabbage, and fava beans.  (I'm still debating about the fava beans, actually.  Since I grew so much garlic this year I should have plenty to re-plant for next year if I want, or I may order some more just to increase the variety.

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