By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Summer is here and fall will be knocking on the screen door before we know it.
Planting fall crops has always been a favorite of mine since many of the fall crops can also be planted in early spring.
So these cold crops or cool season vegetables sort of sandwich the summer crops between them like a great sandwich.
But depending on what planting zone you live in will depend on what you can plant. So explore the cold crops or cool season vegetables that grow in your area.
Below are some of my favorites cold crops or cool season vegetables and tricks on growing them.
Sugar Snap or hulling peas are great in early spring and fall. Just remember these plants will need a trellis to grow upon. Also make sure you mark which is which because nothing ruins a stir-fry like using hulling peas instead of edible pea pods.
These little cabbages are a great fall treat. The trick with these plants is the cooler it gets the better the Brussel sprouts taste. But remember to pick fro the bottom up and do not plant where cabbage has been planted in the past 2 years.
While pumpkins are typically thought of when Halloween comes around they also add wonderful flavor and vitamins to any diet. But pumpkins unlike other cole type crops are started in the spring but harvested in the fall after the plants have died back.
Broccoli can be harvested all the way to the ground. The whole stem and flower can be used in cooking. Broccoli flowers are something that most people who like broccoli use but the stem can be used in stir-fries, slaw, and in stews. To use the stem peel back the tough outer layer and shred or slice. Discard any of the stems that are hallowed.
This vegetable can be found with a white, orange, or purple head and can even be crossed with broccoli. But regardless of color or breeding this cold crop is easy to grow from seed or plant. But remember to mix in good compost before planting.
To keep the head white pull leaves up over the head and secure with a clothespin. This simple trick will keep the head pristine white, orange or purple.
Greens-Turnip, Kale, Spinach, Mustard, Collard, Bibb, Bok Choy, and Kohl Rabi
Greens is a term that covers many plants but generally refers to plants whose leaves are eaten only. These plants grow in early spring and fall. Warmer temperatures cause these plants to bolt and become bitter so plan accordingly. Also greens seem to be one of the favorite foods for slugs. If you find this as a problem try planting your greens in planters or place eggshells and sand around your plants in the garden. Both these items make the garden environment uncomfortable for slugs due to the rough texture and sharp edges of both these items. Also saucers of beer can be placed in the garden but this will kill the slugs instead of creating an inviting environment.
Remember to pick the leaves from the outside in or cut the whole plant when harvesting.
Pansies may not be considered a cole crop so to speak but they are edible flowers that grow best in cool weather. But keep in mind if you plan to eat your pansies in a salad or candied on a cake make sure they are grown organically.
Also if mulched pansies will come back when temperatures become more to their liking.
Fall does not have to cause the gardening bug to go into hibernation but instead creates an opportunity to grow other plants that thrive in cooler temperatures. So if your gardening bug goes into hibernation try some of these cool season vegetables. I think you will be pleased with how easy they are to grow and how delicious and rewarding fall gardening can be. So until we blog again may the sun warm your soil and the temperatures bring the crispness to your cold vegetables all the while Old Man Winter knocks on your garden gate.