Gardening: How to plan now for cold-season crops – Santa Maria Times

If you missed out on growing a summer vegetable garden – or are enjoying homegrown produce right now and would like to extend your bounty — it’s time to start planning.

In most temperate regions, the window of opportunity with regard to developing cool-season crops is opening. Take advantage, plus you’ll be positioned to harvest vegetables long after your own neighbors have packed up their gardening supplies. Homegrown Brussels sprouts regarding Thanksgiving, anyone?

The process intended for starting seeds and planting starter plants is the same year-round. But when growing fall plants in areas that experience frosts plus freezes, timing needs to be precise. In case you plant cool-weather vegetation too early, they’ll wilt under the summer sun; too late, and frost could kill them before they reach maturity.

To get it right, you will need to know your region’s first average ice date. I like the particular tool posted on The National Horticulture Association’s website ( ). Enter your own zip code, then scroll down to the chart labeled “In the particular Fall. ”

Take note of the day in the field where the “10%” column intersects with the “First 32-Degree” row. That represents the particular time when, on average, there is a 10 percent chance the temperature will drop in order to 32 degrees. It’s a conservative estimate, but necessarily so: Gambling on something as unpredictable as the weather can lead to a harvest of regret.

Next, count backward from your 1st frost date by the number of “days to maturity” listed on the grow tag or seed packet, plus use that target day as a starting point.

There are some exceptions: In the southernmost locations, for example , a second sowing associated with so-called summer time veggies like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash and beans can be planted within August plus September, yet cool-season crops should wait until October or even November. In regions like the Pacific Northwest, drop plants can typically become harvested straight through winter.

Leafy greens such as arugula, Asian vegetables, collards, kale, lettuces, mustard produce, spinach and Swiss chard – plus root vegetation like beets, radishes and parsnips – thrive best in cool temperatures plus mature well underneath the shortening periods of daylight typical associated with fall.

Their seed products could be sown directly into the garden or outdoor containers in most areas. But because germination is improved within cooler temps, beginning these seeds indoors under air conditioning will increase success in hot-summer climates.

Before sowing or even transplanting, amend backyard soil with generous amounts of organic matter such as compost or aged manure, or even mix in a slow-release fertilizer (follow package directions). If you’re planting underlying crops, loosen the particular ground 10-12 inches deep to ease their own growth downward.

Plant seed products at the depth recommended on their box, generally roughly twice their particular width, and observe spacing requirements to avoid overcrowding. Keep the dirt moist, taking care in order to water gently to prevent washing away seeds. Firm the garden soil softly to pack this into place.

If seeds are tiny, instructions may indicate “scattering” plus “thinning. ” This means sprinkling seed products over the soil within rows, after that removing extra seedlings to achieve the appropriate space needs for the plants.

After seeds sprout, apply mulch to retain moisture, keep the ground heat even and discourage weeds from taking hold. And pull up weeds that do present to eliminate competition to get drinking water plus nutrients. Keep vegetation well-watered during the remaining summer months to prevent wilting and heat stress.

The flavor of cole plants — Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale plus kohlrabi — will be enhanced by a light ice, defined as an overnight dip in order to thirty-two levels.

Artichokes, arugula, beets, carrots, cauliflower, celery, endive, escarole, lettuce, parsnips, radicchio, Switzerland chard and many Hard anodized cookware greens may withstand exposure to a hard frost (below 28 degrees) for a limited time.

Others can be protected whenever overnight frosts are predicted by covering them with a row cover, bedsheet, blanket or tarp. Remember to remove the protection in the morning.

Jessica Damiano writes regularly about horticulture for The Associated Press. A master gardener and educator, she creates The particular Weekly Dirt newsletter plus creates an annual wall calendar associated with daily growing plants tips. Send her a note at [email protected]. com and find the girl in jessicadamiano. possuindo and on Instagram @JesDamiano .

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