Garden Clippings for September 22, 2018
Peppers were the absolute winner in our backyard veggie garden this year. Never have I seen such a bumper crop. We have been picking peppers for a month and the harvest is showing no signs of letting up anytime soon.
For years we have struggled with peppers. We plant them faithfully each year, providing a carefully prepared seed and planting bed. But when harvest time arrives, the crop has always been skimpy with small, misshapen fruit. This year we have more peppers than we can handle, with big crisp fruit that rivals anything that I could find at the market.
I’d love to take credit for the exceptional crop, convincing myself that perhaps I have finally mastered the fine art of growing peppers, but instead I will blame the hot June, dry July and wet August.
The cucumbers did well too. They grew a mile a minute and instantly produced an abundance of tasty cukes. Unfortunately, they all ripened the same afternoon, or so it seemed.
A week or so ago I cleaned up the cucumber patch and dumped the vines on the compost heap. Underneath the foliage I discovered a few overgrown cucumbers the size of a Sumo wrestler’s arms.
Cleaning up the cucumber patch created a sizable area that begged for plants, so I sowed 2 packages of spinach. Within 10 days tiny seedlings appeared which will soon grow to provide spinach for salad, omelets and soup.
Spinach is not the only crop that can be planted in early fall for late fall harvest. Lettuce and all salad crops can easily be planted up to the middle of September for October harvest. Don’t try planting cool season crops such as lettuce and spinach in the middle of summer because the heat will render them bitter and unappealing.
Radish is the other obvious seed to plant for fall harvest. From seed to harvest, radish needs only 30 growing days. Radish sprouts within a few days of planting and quickly grows to form healthy bulbs. If you want a succession of harvest times, sow a new row of seeds every week or two until the first week of October. Radish prefers growing in cool weather and will produce the most tender tasting food when planted in April, May and September.
Those who grow garlic know that the best time to plant is early fall. Ditto for hardy onions. Garlic planted in September or October will have more than a month to make roots and prepare for spring growth. Bulbs will be ready to eat in June. It is a good idea to cover the onions and garlic with a layer of mulch before winter freeze up.
Lettuce, like spinach, is another cool season crop that grows quickly and performs better when grown in spring or fall rather than through the hot days of summer. Leaf lettuce along with many salad greens require between 30 and 45 days from seed to harvest. For a quick and gratifying treat, grow lettuce and salad greens in a container and enjoy harvest until late November. To extend the harvest, bring the container indoors overnight if frost is expected.