Taking Root #11

Fresh Vegetables all Year Long? Plant a Fall/Winter Garden

By Gini Bramlett

Utilizing empty spaces in the garden is the goal of most avid vegetable gardeners, and in a milder climate like ours, gardening can continue well after the traditional spring planting is over.

By now, many gardeners are finding empty spaces due to early summer harvesting of lettuces, fall planted garlic, peas, radishes, cilantro, onions, spinach and more. July is the time to begin filling those spaces for later harvests in fall, winter and even next spring.

Before we list vegetables that can be planted now and in the coming months, let’s talk briefly about soil conditions. Essential nutrients can be depleted from spring plantings, so adding more compost, manure and the like is necessary before planting and sowing fall/winter crops.

In fall and winter, microorganism activity underground slows dramatically and sometimes even stops entirely. Amending your garden soil with manure or a granular all-purpose fertilizer as early as possible (now) gives the microorganisms time to break down the fertilizer before the weather cools.

Later in the season, use liquid or water soluble fertilizers such as a fish base fertilizer. Avoid planting heavy feeding winter plants in the same place as your spring heavy feeders grew. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all heavy feeders.

Right now, plants that can be placed in the home garden are basil, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, overwintering onions and kale.

Sown from seed now are arugula (through September), bush beans and beets (through this month), carrots (through mid August), kale (through early August), lettuce (through October) and quick-maturing cabbage (through mid July). Spinach can be sown from seed through mid September and Swiss chard only until mid July, so seed now. Chard can be transplanted through August.

Cilantro is surprisingly hardy and can be held through winter if conditions are right. One of the best varieties for late planting spinach is Standby from Adaptive Seeds in Crawfordsville.

Kale and kohlrabi can be planted from seed through mid August and from plants through the end of August. Lots of good varieties are available for kale, and for kohlrabi are Superschmeltz and Calibri, available at Territorial. Cover kohlrabi and kale plants during a hard freeze.

Overwintering sweet onions can be planted through August. Best varieties for a spring harvest are Siskiyou Sweet from Seeds of Change and Walla Walla from Fedco Seeds. Sweet onions do not store well so plan to eat them soon after harvest.

Garlic can be planting in October in the Willamette Valley for a June/July harvest and radishes can be sown in September and October. Best fall radish varieties are Round Black Winter from Adaptive Seed and Rudolf from Seeds of Change.

Spinach makes a great fall crop and a good winter crop if kept under cover. Prone to slug damage, the soil around plants must be kept dry between watering, or Sluggo, an organic slug deterrent should be used. Spinach can be sown through mid September. Good varieties are Giant Winter, Bloomsdale Savoy and Olympia from Territorial Seed.

Companion planting is just as important in winter gardens as in spring gardens. Beets, onions and kohlrabi are good neighbors, and lettuce, carrots and radishes are also good friends. Cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi and broccoli are good along with herbs and aromatic plants, as well as beets, onions and celery. Spinach likes strawberries, too.

So, as you can see, there is no need to leave your garden space barren into fall or over winter. The vegetables I’ve included are only some that can be grown in the fall and winter garden. Your local extension agency has a complete list. Go online at extension.oregonstate.edu/.

Brownsville Farmer’s Market

Don’t forget to stop by the Brownsville Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9am-1pm for fresh local and organic vegetables, berries, cherries, herbs, jams, chutneys, local honey, fresh fruits such as local apricots now, and peaches coming soon. Also, stop by for fresh pastries and breads along with your morning cup of coffee.

The market offers all your garden questions answered by a certified Master Gardener most Saturdays.

The farmer’s market is looking for new vendors to sell their produce and wares at the market on Saturday morning. Crafters are invited. For more information about the market, call manager Diane Remoir at 541-359-5898.

And remember, volunteers are always welcome on Thursday mornings from 10-noon at the Community Garden to help plant, weed, harvest and assist in other garden duties. No need to call; just stop in. We’ll be glad to see you!

Harvests from the garden help the Brownsville Senior Center, Sharing Hands Food Bank and Brownsville Seniur Center.

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