Time to finish planting the roots crops and greens for fall, winter, and early spring harvest. Continue planting radishes, spinach, kale, arugula, tatsoi and other cool weather greens in weekly successions through the beginning of October under row cover. September is the last sowing date for fall harvesting of spinach. Seed for small spinach plants to winter over under mulch or row cover for spring harvest can still be sown into October. In warmer coastal areas if you are having trouble germinating spinach try Sprouting spinach in your fridge for one week, then sow (if <68F, and dead nettle has germinated) or wait a couple of weeks for the soil to get cooler
Keep carrots, beets, radishes, and all your other winter roots well weeded for maximum growth while it is still warm enough. Sow hardy lettuce varieties like Winter Density and Bronze Arrow every 2 days thru early October. Then transplant into beds spaced 8-12 inches apart and cover with Reemay or other spun polyester row cover for fresh salads all winter.
Sow cover crops as space becomes available. By the end of September start to plant vetch and winter rye as a cover crop on bare land. Water, weed, thin and compost strawberries for next year’s crop. Use thinnings to start a new bed. Continue harvesting summer veggies, using that last burst of summer harvest to make sure you have enough tomato sauce, salsa, pickles, etc to last the winter as the first frost should be coming early next month.
Here are some fall planting tips from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange concise fall planting guide:
Planning: Try to have as many greens and roots mature as possible ~Dec 15 before growth stops – from Dec 15-Feb 15 (Persephone days) what you see is what you can eat, don’t count on any new growth happening. If there’s limited garden space, greens are the most productive. Sow seeds thickly and harvest thinnings as plants grow. Once plants have matured to their final spacing, only harvest outer leaves, leave small leaves to become larger.
Most productive/cold-hardy greens: spinach, kale, collards, some mustards, Even’ Star Winter Arugula, cilantro, sorrel, salad burnet, curly parsley. Use row cover to extend harvest until Spring.
Remember to keep harvesting your last summer crops, cover cropping empty areas and making last plantings for fresh eating in fall thru winter and into spring!
By Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and the author of
Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia