Early August is a perfectly wonderful time to plant seeds for a fall vegetable garden.
Early August is a perfectly wonderful time to plant seeds for a fall vegetable garden. This spring was so cold and wet that I had terrible germination with the vegetable seeds I planted. But the ground is warmer now, making for better germination
If you have areas in your garden where the early lettuce or green beans are gone, or if you have a few spaces you just didn’t get to, get out there and plant right away. First, clear away all the spent crops and weeds that are in your way. Spread a two-inch thick layer of compost or other organic matter over the seeding area, add a few hand fulls of natural organic fertilizer and dig all of this into a depth of four-to-six inches. Break up all the dirt clods, rake everything smooth and you are ready to plant.
Radishes, lettuce, mesclun, arugula, turnips, kale, beets, Chinese cabbage, green beans, spinach and peas are some of the vegetables you can plant right now, as well as dill and cilantro. If you can find any transplant packets of parsley, that would be a good thing to plant too.
Unfortunately, many nurseries and garden centers get rid of their seed packets too early in the summer. If you can’t find packets, go online to Renee’s Garden at www.reneesgarden.com, John Sheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds at www.kitchengardenseeds.com or Cook’s Garden at www.cooksgarden.com to see what is available.
Radishes will produce a crop in 25 to 30 days, lettuce will produce in 50 to 60 days, mesclun in 25 to 30 days, turnips in 30 to 35 days, kale in 50 to 60 days, beets in 35 to 60 days, Chinese cabbage in 45 to 60 days, spinach in 20 to 40 days, green beans in 50 to 60 days, and peas in 55 to 60 days. Both cilantro and dill are fast growers that like warm weather, so you should have these herbs ready to harvest in 30 days.
The green beans are the most iffy because they won’t withstand an early fall frost, but all of the other crops actually like “cooker” weather and will last into the middle of October.
Once you have your seeds planted, be sure to keep the bed lightly moist for best germination. It doesn’t always rain a lot around here in August and if the bed dries out, the seed won’t germinate very well. Just sprinkle the planting bed lightly every day or every other day until you see the seeds begin to germinate. Then you can cut back to giving them a good watering as needed. Before long, you will have some delicious herbs and vegetables that you will enjoy into the fall.
By now, all of you should have tomatoes, peppers, onion and cilantro growing in your vegetable garden. If not, all of these tasty veggies are widely available at your favorite farmer’s market. With all of this abundance, I love to make my own salsa. I prefer to use a blender rather than a food processor because I like the texture better, but use whatever you have on hand.
Homemade fresh-from-the garden salsa recipe:
Place three to four roughly chopped tomatoes in a blender.
Add one medium onion, peeled and chopped, two cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, two to three fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped, one-half cup minced fresh cilantro (be sure to wash it thoroughly to remove any sandy grit,) the juice of two limes, salt and pepper to taste.
Pulse this a couple times until it’s blended, but still has a slightly chunky texture.
Allow the salsa to mellow for an hour and serve with homemade tortilla chips.
Sometimes I will add a spoonful of sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. But if you want to add cantaloupe, peaches or watermelon for sweetness, you will have a salsa that all of your friends will write home about.
Larry Sombke is a landscape consultant, speaker, author of the book Beautiful Easy Flower Gardens and a frequent guest on Northeast Public Radio. Contact him with questions at www.beautifuleasygardens.blogspot.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.