Fall In Love With Cool-Weather Gardening For A Healthy, Hefty Homegrown Harvest • Paso Robles Press
From Bonnie Plants, independent columnist
Shorter days and cooler temperatures mean gardeners everywhere can bend their green fingers much longer to get every last moment out of the growing season. Cooler temperatures make spending time outside in the garden a pleasure. In addition, thanks to the favorable growing conditions, you will spend less time caring for the plants in cool weather. The plants grow quickly at first and gradually slower as the days get shorter and colder.
Destructive insects will not be as numerous, and weeds will germinate and grow more slowly than in warmer weather. Compared to hot and dry summers, autumn usually brings an increase in rainfall, which reduces another time-consuming chore – watering.
How to Grow: Use Grafts: For the most timely results possible, buy good quality grafts that have already started so that the germination process is complete. You will harvest six weeks earlier than growing from seed and have time before the cold weather sets in.
Get through it together, Paso Robles
Make friends with frost: cole plants (German for cabbage, as in coleslaw) such as cauliflower, cabbage and kale thrive in cooler temperatures; and they taste even better when pinched by Jack Frost, as frost stimulates the cabbage plants to produce sugar, which in turn makes them sweeter. In contrast to cole plants, tomatoes can still grow abundantly in autumn, but they are susceptible to frost.
Location, Location, Location: Plan your fall garden with enough sunlight (six to eight hours a day) to grow and thrive, while also leaving some afternoon shade. Spend time jotting down the sunniest spots and planting accordingly. Prepare the perfect soil. Just like humans, plants need their own type of food to thrive. Working in compost can be beneficial, as can removing used plants and weeds. Freshen up the garden soil by removing any mulch and then replacing it. Straw makes an excellent cover; It is easy to scatter and is also a popular home for spiders, which fight pests naturally.
Look at containers. Container gardening is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to grow your own groceries at home, and it’s also great for small spaces or city dwellers who may not have green spaces. Choose your plants. From flashy salads to hearty cole harvests, fall offers a plethora of options. Some good, cool weather options include: Georgia Collards: Valued for their sweet, cabbage-like taste, these greens are high in vitamins and minerals.
Spinach: A favorite in cool weather, it is fast-growing and produces many leaves in a short time. Artwork broccoli: this variety is unique; Instead of producing a large broccoli head, it provides tender, dark green side shoots with bite-sized heads and long, edible stems – perfect for searing and searing.
Hybrid cabbage: Cabbage is particularly rich in beta-carotene, vitamins C, K and fiber. Water wisely. It is best to water at the base of the plant (ground level) in the morning and keep the foliage dry – water when the top 5 cm of the soil becomes dry. To test, stick your finger or a pencil about 2 inches into the ground. When the earth is dry, 5 cm deep, it’s time to water; If it’s wet, wait for the soil to dry. Fertilize faithfully.
Plants need an additional nutrient boost in the form of high-quality fertilizer for healthy growth. Always follow the manufacturer’s label directions for rates and intervals as too much fertilizer can be harmful to plants. Prepare for the harvest. Once your plants start producing results, you will have a plan for eating fresh or for preservation.
Who knows, maybe this is the perfect time to try your hand at canning or freezing to maximize freshness and time.
All it takes is the right preparation and planning, and soon your garden will have a delicious garden-to-table feast before the first frost hits the ground.
For more information on fall gardening and varieties, visit bonnieplants.com.
Bonnie Plants is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; You can email them to bonnieplants.com.