It is early August, and I am more excited than ever to get in the garden. Why? Because this is just the right time to spend a quick 15 to 30 minutes planting a few things that will feed you in September, October, November, and even December. We have all the plants and seeds you need to make that happen in a way that will feel really good during those cool autumn days. Here is a quick guide for the fall vegetable garden. You can also sign up for our fall gardening workshop described below if you are looking for a little more guidance.
Spinach - you can plant either seeds or plants up until early September. Around September 10th, a row of seeds can go in the ground that you will harvest in early spring. The seeds will germinate this fall, and grow a bit, but don't harvest them. Just cover them with some straw in December, uncover them in early April, and the sweetest spinach awaits you. It is called "Overwintered Spinach". You've probably seen it in local food stores in early spring and wondered how it can be so sweet. The trick is cold weather.
Lettuce and arugula- plants can go in the ground until mid-September or so. Really. That means you have easily another 6 weeks to keep planting fresh greens for your salads. And another 3 months or more to continually harvest those greens. Seeds can go in the ground until early September / late August.
Scallions - plants can go in the ground until early September.
Beets - you have another 3 weeks or so to transplant beets and another 10 days or so to sow them from seeds.
Boc Choi and Napa Cabbage - transplant now, or as late as early September.
Broccoli - transplant anytime between now and late August (really). This will give you one big head per plant and tons of side shoots that you can snap off and throw into the wok or pan well into December.
Kale and Chard - plants can go in the ground until 3rd week of August or so. They will grow well in the fall, and kale can last into December easily (it will even come back in the spring if we have a mild winter again, but then it will go to seed May 2017 or so). Chard can only take a light frost, so it won't last through December, but it is nice to have a fresh patch of it for freezing and fall dinners. You can read about my chard gratin here.
Fennel - this is another cold hardy plant that you can transplant through August and into early September.
Radicchio, escarole, frisee - these bitter greens are very rugged and do quite well in the cold. They like to be planted by the end of August for October and November harvests. They make a perfect autumn salad with fresh pears, a nice Alpine cheese like the Tomme at our next door neighbor's Family Cow Farmstand, and a few toasted walnuts tossed with a garlicky vinaigrette.
We have all of these plants in stock from fresh plantings at our Hinesburg greenhouses. You can also find an assortment of them at City Market, Healthy Living, Gardeners' Supply, and the Montpelier Guy's Farm and Yard.