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Wed, 07/25/2012 - 14:25 — Sarah Martinez
Plan now for Fall greens
Enjoy the goodness of Spring when Autumn winds begin to blow
Today’s guest blog post comes from our friends at the National Garden Bureau.
When the trees begin to show Fall colors, your garden can too. You may not have thought about planting for a Fall harvest that can continue even into the winter. Now is that time to plan for Fall planting. For Fall harvests you can start everything from seed sown directly in the garden.
Do you enjoy salad and other greens fresh from the garden? In season, they are fabulous, especially cut-and-come-again greens like leaf lettuces, arugula, mustard and others. For what you would pay for two weeks worth of salad greens for a family of four, you can buy more than enough seed to keep you in salad all Fall and well into Winter. Look for greens that you would normally plant in spring before the last frost date—those that can take some cold.
Since these are mostly “foliage plants,” look for those that add a dimension of color in addition to “leafy green” when selecting varieties to add to your garden. If you don’t segregate ornamentals from edibles, you will want the plants to add as much interest—leaf color, shape, size, and plant form—as possible.
You can choose from many leaf lettuces, including these All-America Selections winners: ‘Red Sails’ (1985), ‘Buttercrunch’ (1963), ‘Ruby’ (1958), and ‘Salad Bowl’ (1952). Romaines can take the cold; try ‘Rouge d’Hiver’ and ‘Freckles’ for good color.
Mix it up
Sow each type of seed separately, or create your own personal mesclun blend. You can mix all the seeds together in a bowl and then scatter them on bare soil—thicker than normal. Make an eighteen-inch-wide swath through a garden bed, or edge the path leading from the sidewalk to your front door. The greens will come up in a colorful carpet. By the time the plants are a few inches tall they will need thinning. Pull up plants at random for an instant salad of baby greens.
Since you will be planting in the heat of summer, sow the seed in a partly shaded spot, or provide shade with spun polyester cloth to keep them cooler. Mist lightly during the day to refresh the seedlings and young plants. Otherwise, they require no different care than Spring-sown seeds. Growing spinach in the Spring can be a challenge, as it doesn’t like the heat. In Fall, it is happy with the cooling weather. Be sure to avoid any varieties that are labeled “Summer” spinach. As with the other plants for Fall harvest, sow the seed in a partially shaded area to keep the soil from getting too warm.
To many, the flavor of kale—like Brussels sprouts—is enhanced by frost. For diversity of leaf shape, color (from deep green t