By Charlie Nardozzi
With school back in session in most areas, kids are arriving to find the gardens they planted in spring in full production. With some planning, you can have winter squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers all ready to harvest in the garden this September. But in most areas, early September also gives you plenty of time to plant more crops to mature this fall or next spring. This will help maintain kids’ excitement because they will be able to harvest earlier plantings and care for new plantings at the same time. Here are some choices for fall veggie planting:
- Greens: You really can’t go wrong with planting almost any kind of green in fall. Select greens that can be harvested when young, such as loose-leaf lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, beets, and spinach. In hot areas, wait until a little later in the month, when the weather cools a bit, to sow these greens. Harvest these crops as baby greens or let them mature to full size, depending on your climate and the varieties you planted. You can use floating row covers to protect greens from early frosts and pests.
- Garlic: While September is still too early to plant garlic, it’s a good time to clear some space in the garden, talk to kids about varieties, and purchase your garlic bulbs for planting. Plant garlic in October or November, depending on your location, about the same time you’d plant tulips.
- Scallions: While planting bulbing onions now isn’t the norm (except in the Deep South), you can plant scallions or bunching onions just for their tops. Harvest these once they are large enough to eat, and add them to salads to give your greens a spicy taste.
- Roots: Radishes can be planted now for a quick fall harvest. Select baby carrots such as ‘Little Fingers’ and beets such as ‘Red Ace’ to sow now as well. These crops will give you a small but tasty treat come late fall. You can even mulch the carrots heavily in late fall and overwinter them for a spring treat.