Blast Off Today for a Great Fall Garden

Posted: October 23, 2017

After this summer’s success growing edibles in containers I’m approaching fall as a whole new productive season. I did well from spring through late summer with Sow True Seeds’ Parris Island slo-bolt lettuce, Buttercrunch slo-bolt lettuce, Roman chamomile, dwarf sunflowers, hot peppers, basil and even eggplants. Out in the yard I had great results with the more ornamental borage, gaudy red garnet amaranth and okra. Those are getting played out now, and it’s just about time to replant.

For once I am getting started with my fall garden in mid-September rather than November – way too late – and taking a systematic look at how to maximize production during fall and winter.

I stopped by to visit the new Sow True Seed shop in Asheville this week, and got some good advice on seeds for fall planting. I selected a lot of packets and analyzed the days to harvest. Here how I will plant:
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First, sugar snap peas. They take 66 days to harvest, which gets us to late November. After that I’m afraid a big frost could wipe them out. I will keep readers posted on this experiment.
Next, beds of leeks and fennel. Those crops take up to 135 days to harvest, but are tough and hardy. In fact, snow makes them happy.
Third, a group that takes from 50 to 60 days to harvest. So I can plant them an know they may produce this fall or stay in the ground and take off in spring – daikon radish (a great soil conditioner), arugula, carrot, beet, collards.
Finally, the very short harvest crops – mizuna (greens) and French breakfast radishes – which take only 24-45 days to harvest. I can plant those just about anytime this fall.

In addition, I will plant onion sets for fresh scallions during the winter. Some of the smaller crops noted above, like arugula and mizuna, will be perfect in pots, since I can keep them close to the kitchen door.

Don’t forget to buy more plant labels while you are ordering seeds. And of course, order seed garlic and shallots now for planting in October.

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Nan Chase

NC Garden Ambassador at Sow True Seed
Writer Nan K. Chase has written about topics as diverse as the history of Islam and the history of the mini-skirt, about beauty pageants and about nuclear energy. An award-winning investigative journalist, she has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Air & Space, Southern Living, and many other publications. A long-time gardener, Nan lives in the mountains of western North Carolina.

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