Now that you’ve harvested those carrots, and the peas have long since pulled out, it’s time to plant again! Don’t let that bare ground go to waste and get that second crop growing now! The best crops to plant are short season, cold hardy vegetables that sweeten with a little chill. Kale and lettuce for instance, thrive in cooler nights and shorter days. There is no flavor like that of new leaf kale with a little frost on them in the fall. Grow dinosaur kale for sautéing (love the name!) or Curly Headed Vates Kale for kale chips! A healthy and yummy snack alternative! Other leafy greens that enjoy cooling temperatures are arugula, spinach, bok choy, and Swiss chard.
Radishes, carrots, and parsnips can also be planted now for a wonderful fall crop. If you really want to impress your neighbors with fresh harvested vegetables, give them some in December! Before that first snow, simply cover your root crop vegetable with 2 to 3 feet of straw. This method protects your vegetables enough that you will be able to pull fresh carrots from the ground even if snow has covered them!
This time of year is also a fine time to plant your cover crops! Keep the health of your soil in mind always, even for the following year! Try planting legumes like soybeans, cowpeas, or pintos. The object here is not to harvest food from these plants, but rather to provide food for the soil! The roots of these plants add nitrogen into the ground, and once the plants die in the winter, the leaves and stems themselves can add natural compost.
If you noticed this summer that your soil is hard as a rock and watering it requires nearly an Olympic sized swimming pool worth of water to even begin to dampen the ground, try planting giant mustard. These plants have the uncanny ability to grow tall quickly and add an enormous amount of material into the soil to break up that clay when turned in!
Lastly, don’t forget to collect your seeds! It’s never a bad idea to collect your own seeds, Covid or not! Once seeds are completely dry from your favorite vegetables, place into jars or envelopes (marked with variety and year) and store them somewhere dark and dry!