Planting a Fall Garden
So you still haven’t planted your garden yet? Believe it or not, there is time to grow something and enjoy some Washington grown treats this year! Mid to late summer is the perfect time to start your fall garden.
The best gardeners know that to maximize their garden, one doesn’t just plant in the spring only. For continual harvest of crops like lettuce, beans, and corn, you can plant every 2 to 3 weeks to ensure harvest over several weeks.
But even if you haven’t started one thing yet, you can still grow some plants (even from seed!) and enjoy a harvest this fall.
The most important part of planning your fall garden is timing. Fall crops tend to take about 2 weeks longer to mature than spring crops, due to cooling weather and shorter days. In order to plan your fall garden, you need to know two things: your average first frost date and the days to maturity of the vegetable you wish to plant. If you don’t know your first frost date, you can find it here http://www.almanac.com/content/frost-chart-united-states The average days to maturity can be found on your seed packets.
Once you have your last frost date and the days to maturity, you can calculate the last possible date to plant your seeds and expect a harvest.
For example, if you live in George, WA, which has an average first frost date of October 8th and you would like to plant a variety of spinach with 45 days to maturity, the latest you should plant your spinach is August 10th. (August 24th is 45 days before October 8th, plus two additional weeks to account for slower growth.)
What types of crops can you consider? Here are a few ideas, along with the average days to maturity:
- Arugula: 25 (for baby leafed) to 55 days
- Beets: 45 to 55 days
- Broccoli: 60 to 80 days
- Carrots: 45 to 75 days
- Collards: 50 to 65 days
- Green Onions: 50 to 60 days
- Herbs: varies
- Kale: 30 to 60 days
- Lettuce: 25 to 60 days
- Radishes: 10 to 50 days
- Spinach: 25 to 50 days
- Swiss Chard: 25 to 60 days
- Turnips: 30 to 75 days
Both farmers who grow for farmers markets and some large scale farmers have been practicing staggered planting to extend their harvest. Join in their wisdom and get the most out of your garden this year!