Bartlett on Gardening: You Didn't Miss the Boat

Rain every weekend, special occasions, visitors, vacations---so many things can sidetrack a gardener. Don't fret. You can still plant some warm-season veggies and plan for an autumn harvest.

It is not too late to set out tomato and cucumber plants. Hurry though. This needs to get done by the end the month. You can sow seeds of summer squash and bush beans until the middle of August.

If you can find tomatoes and cucumbers, you still have time to plant 'em. But shake a leg--you should get R done by the end of the month.

The strategy for fall harvest planning is simple. Our average date for the first frost is Oct. 25. Looking on your seed packet, count back from the first frost date the number of days until harvest and add a couple of weeks so that you have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Now you have your planning dates for a fall garden.

Romaine and loose-leaf lettuce can be planted from seed until Sept. 15 and harvested on a cut-and-come-again basis until frost. Set out transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage by mid August. Seeds of winter greens such as kale, collards and mustard may be sown in August, but wait until the second week of September to plant spinach.

The edible flower calendula is a colorful cool-season annual which does better here in autumn than in spring's rapid warm-up. Radishes don't relish hot weather either and are another great addition to a fall garden.

Some crops will be killed by a hard freeze. Some taste better after that event because sugars are trapped in the plant. Parsnips, turnips and brussels sprouts are all tastier after a visit from Jack Frost. Depending on the severity of the winter, some crops will be around until February. My kale lasted until spring this year.

Here at The Planet, we know life happens, but gardeners are optimists. There is always a next season. Thinking about the great variety of vegetables that can be planted for an extended autumn harvest might make one glad to be getting a late start

Master Gardener Ann Bartlett never lets lack of familiarity with a plant keep her from trying it in the ornament beds around her home.

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