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Time to plan your winter garden

Summer bounty
Summer bounty
Linda Strader

Those lucky folks who live in warm climates such as the southwest deserts can look forward to year round gardening. Fall is the best time to plant cool weather crops, including some herbs. Plan your fall garden like you would your spring garden; rotate crops and leave some empty spaces to give the soil a rest.

Garden Clean-up

If you had a spring garden, start cleaning up what isn’t doing well. Summer squash and melons are usually done by now, so unless you still have fruits on the vines, pull them out. Remove any dead, diseased or dying plants of any kind, too.

It is best not to compost plants from your garden, as in order to kill off insect eggs and diseases, your compost pile needs to reach temperatures above 200 degrees. It is not worth risking re-infecting your garden.

It is a good idea to add addition compost to your garden, and the Mantis Gas Roto-tiller makes the job a lot easier. Just keep in mind not to till too often, as you may end up killing all your beloved earthworms you worked so hard to bring in.

Seedlings for Fall Planting

Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage work best this time of year when planted as seedlings. If your garden area is in full sun, they will appreciate some filtered shade to acclimate them to their new environment. Swiss chard, lettuce, kale and other greens can be purchase as seedlings, too, or you can plant seeds directly in the ground.

Vegetable Seeds for Fall Planting

Root crops like beets and carrots do not do well as transplants, so use seeds instead. Try different colored varieties like golden beets or purple carrots. Seeds of Change Beet Chioggia is also interesting, with a red and white striped interior. Other seeds to plant:

  • Sugar snap peas- If you choose a bush sugar snap pea variety, you will not need to worry about installing a trellis.
  • Lettuce-Slow bolt varieties like red oak and black-seeded simpson will ensure a longer crop.
  • Kale-All kales do quite well. Even ornamental kale is edible.
  • Swiss chard-Pick one with ruby red stems for more color.

Herbs to Plant in the Fall

  • Parsley –Seeds of Change Parsley Italian Flatleaf or Parsley Forest Green are two organic options. Both are perennials and will continue to bring you fresh parsley for a year or two.
  • Cilantro-Seeds of Change Cilantro Slow-Bolt ensures you will get the most out of your cilantro plants before they go to seed. Don’t forget to harvest the seeds; which are known as coriander.
  • Chives- Plant Seeds of Change Chive Garden for snipping onion flavored stems to garnish your favorite recipes.

The best part about a fall garden is you don’t have to water as often, and there are few pests to contend with. Planting now means crops through early spring, and lots of fresh vegetables and herbs for your winter soup recipes.

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