Last year when I posted about growing fall crops, we were in the midst of the Covid Pandemic, but a year later I will tell you I feel this is so much more important this year. Take the time to do fall crops if you can.
Faced with what is happening in our states here in the United States, and in our global world, a fall garden is a wise choice for food security. It doesn’t take a lot of time to get it going, and you can eat till first freeze, when the days are getting short. And frankly…watching and tending a garden is good for the soul. It gets you outside most days, you get fresh air and sunlight. Enjoy the end of summer as it slips into fall.
And about that food security thing….a single English Cucumber is selling for nearly $4 at the grocery store 2 miles away from our homestead this week. $4. Insanity. In summer! And a small Kale bunch for $3.49? Sigh.
Food security is getting worse by the month. Every time I go shopping I wonder what will be the next thing that isn’t in stock. And I have noticed the fresh produce quality is lagging this summer, when it should be in its prime. It’s up to US to make sure we are set. Don’t rely on the system to do it for you.
Fall Is Coming:
It’s July 23rd and the living is easy right now, with the beds lush with green, but “We need to get planning for fall”, this is the week to get going. If you are in a temperate area, you will want your fall crops in the ground or in seed pots by first week of August for best results.
We are zone 8A here on the south end of Whidbey Island, in the Olympic Rainshadow, though we used to farm in Zone 7 when we lived on the mainland, so below will cover much of Western Washington.
This isn’t a huge list, but recommendations for some of the more popular seed choices.
Depending on where you live, you may want to invest into frost cloth if you have early freezes (we don’t here, we usually don’t freeze until early November as the Salish Sea protects us).
A side project:
If you have children and you have open pollinated (heirloom) (but not hybrid F1) crops going to seed right now, consider doing seed saving for the next spring, and get the kids to make some seed packets! They can decorate the packets and get “ownership” in the garden. To save seeds easily, have them place the seeds in brown paper lunch bags, label and set aside to dry in a cool/dry area till Fall, then package up.
What to get working on this week:
You knew I would say that, right? But it is true. Chores lead to a happy garden or homestead.
- Go out and walk your gardens, pull things that were sapped by heatwaves and won’t make it back (for example, lettuce that is bolting). I feed this to our ducks and chickens. They love those days.
- Weed, even though it sucks to do (I hate weeding so much but it feels great after I do it). Figure out what you will be harvesting soon, such as onions and garlic, and figure out what can be sown in those spots for say the next 60 days. You could do peas or beans, and then be ready to put in garlic for the Fall…..
- Check fences for damage.
- Look at trellising you might have up, that needs repairs or changes.
- Prune your tomatoes if you haven’t, to promote the energy to the fruit.
- If you need to fertilize, do it soon.
- If your wood chips in your walking aisles are gone, add in more. They suppress weeds and keep moisture in.
- Walk your land and look for noxious weeds to pull. We have to deal with Tansy, Thistles and those nasty blackberry runners that rip at your legs. Pull often and they decrease over time. Where we live if you put noxious weeds in black bags the local dump takes them for free.
- Think long and hard about if you would like more garden space. This is the time of year to start planning. If you have to lay down sileage tarps to kill weeds/grass you want the hot sunny days to do the work. It’s a good 6 to 9 months time for it, so get started for next Spring.
Seeds In Soil –
Sow every 2 weeks direct seed, bush beans can be seeded up to early to mid-August for fall crops. Bush bean varieties grow faster than pole, and are preferable for fall.
Last week of July to mid-August for fall crops. Seed every 1-2 weeks till then.
Transplant first week of August. Get into pots now as seeds. Like today!
This crop grows best as a fall crop. It can bolt to seed in early warm springs. Protect late summer plants from summer heat with shade cloth if needed.
Seed August 1st for fall crops. Seed every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting.
Certain varieties are planted in fall, to be harvested the next year.
In most summers grow it continuously, when it’s too hot for lettuce. Seed every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting through mid-August.
Garlic & Shallots:
Direct plant October to November, before hard freezing. Buy now, or when you pull this summer’s crop, save some for fall planting.
Plant by mid August for fall crops. Seed every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting.
Plant by August 1st for fall crops. Can sow direct or start in pots late July.
Resume seeding end of July to plant fall crops through mid August. Can direct seed or start in pots.
Onions, from seed:
Green onions can be seeded every few weeks for a continuous crop, through mid August.
Direct seed from mid-July through first 2 weeks of August for fall crops.
Bush takes less time than tall climbing varieties, and are preferable for fall.
Plant July and on for fall crops. Grow smaller varieties for best results (save the russets for summer). Ensure they get plenty of sun, fall grows well in large containers. Keep them in as much sun as you can.
Resume in August for fall crops. Seed every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting.
Spinach/Bok Choy/Other Greens:
Direct seed or start in pots by second week in August. Seed every 2 weeks for continuous harvesting.
Can be seeded through late July.
Sow every 2 weeks direct seed, through mid-August.