Sunday, July 10, 2011

It’s Not Too Late to Start Growing Vegetables

It's mid-July and my bush beans are looking the worse for wear and my lettuce won't last more than a couple more hours in this heat. This brought me back to our FPC workshop last August on extending the growing season. It's not too late to start beans or carrots. In a few weeks, we can start a second crop of turnips, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, chard and maybe cilantro. Some crops actually grow better in the fall than in the Spring.

While researching this, I found a couple of good articles on seed company websites: Johnny's and Seeds of Change. However, one of the bests sites is a publication published by the Iowa Extension office which shows the time to plant, let grow and harvest vegetables between March and November.

I also ran over to the SACG (in this oppressive heat) to see what seeds we had left in the shed. I separated the flowers from the vegetables. We have lots of lettuce seeds left. I also found some bok choy and tom thumb lettuce (both of which I've been bumming off Charlie for the last month. About time I grew my own). Over the last two days, I have discovered that the big box stores have stopped selling seeds, but not the local nurseries, like DeMonye's, Oakland Nursery and Dill's. (They are 40% off at DeMonye's, which also has some seedlings (particularly greens and tomatoes) for 50% off). So, I picked up some turnip, winter squash and okra.

The graphic is from The Dispatch. Click on it to enlarge it to make it more readable).

Some tips:

  1. Plant fall seeds a little deeper than you do in the Spring. The soil is cooler the deeper you plant and some seeds prefer slightly cooler soil temperatures.

  2. Think about watering the ground where you will be planting the night before.

  3. Water the row thoroughly after planting since the ground will dry out quickly in this heat and you need moisture to germinate the seeds. (For that matter, some seeds will benefit from soaking them in water overnight before you plant them).

  4. For carrots, consider putting a board over where you have planted and check it every day or so. This will help keep the soil damp and deter weeds. Remove the board when the seedlings begin to emerge.

If we built some cold frames or hoop houses, we could extend our growing season until Christmas. As it is, we usually have food growing in the SACG until at least Thanksgiving.

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