Next Year’s Garden Season Begins Now

Although this year’s gardening season is winding down, next year’s season is just beginning.

I heard quite a few years ago, that someone was experimenting with planting crops such as carrots and beets in the fall with the expectation that they would be much further ahead in harvesting than spring-planted carrots.

I was too busy at the time to pay much attention and just filed the information away. Then last year, I saw the comparison of fall-planted carrots vs. spring-planted carrots at a friend’s garden. Seeing the difference was worthy of my attention.

Digging into gathering information regarding fall planting of some crops, a reader informed me that she, too, saw the difference in the advanced growth of, and earlier harvest of, carrots and beets and has been planting these vegetables in the fall for years.

The process is known as overwintering, which is defined as planting in summer for harvest the next spring.

So this year, I am going to try it as well.

Because I still have vegetables that are maturing and the harvesting isn’t done yet, this project won’t happen until late September or early October, weather depending, but now is the time for planning.

As far as I am aware, success with this innovative approach has been carrots, beets, radishes, turnips and parsnips. Although turnips grow well as a spring planted vegetable by planting in the fall, the harvest is so much earlier.

Partial success has been reported with the Brassica family of plants (Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Broccoli) but would depend on your particular location. If you have a few left-over seeds from these plants, it wouldn’t hurt to experiment.

Who knows what kind of winter we will have. There is no reason other green hardy leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard, and Kale wouldn’t also work.

Prepare your garden the same way as you do in the spring. Choose a location in the garden that will get plenty of snow cover and south facing is always important.

Remember, too, that crop rotation is desirable for all crops, to prevent disease and insect infestation, consequently plant the carrots, beets etc, in a different location from the past spring’s crop.

Fall is often a time when gardening stores discount their peat moss, compost or other garden accessories and now is the time to stock up for your “fall garden project”.

A fresh layer of compost and peat moss is quite desirable.

Appropriate seeds may be hard to find unless you have seeds left over and that is where planning comes in. There is still time to search locally for seeds or for ordering seeds.

Plant the seeds a little bit deeper than you would in the spring. The cool soil at the end of September or early October will keep the seeds from sprouting as you don’t want them to germinate this year.

Covering your planted bed with a layer of the white “floating row cover”, a transparent material that looks similar to cheesecloth and is often used for frost protection, is an important step not to be overlooked. This keeps out birds that may pick at your seeds. Plus the floating row cover will help with the sprouting of the seedlings in the spring.

These vegetables will not grow during the winter months, but as soon as the temperatures start warming up, they will start maturing rapidly.

If you are still wanting to do more gardening, try “overwintering”. If you would prefer to plant flowers in the fall, there’s always Tulips … but more on that later.

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