Garden Tips for the Garden State – Fall Gardening
It’s the last week of August and that means it’s time to get your fall veggies in the ground. Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Radishes and Spinach not only do these guys tolerate the approaching cooler weather, they actually thrive in it. Many of these fall veggies even taste sweeter once the cold sets in making the fall harvest so worth it.
The best way to extend the growing season in New Jersey is with a little help from row covers and cold frames.
Use floating row covers draped over your fall veggies once the frost starts. These thin white clothes made of polypropylene let light and rain through but keep heat from escaping. It also acts as a windbreaker for those breezy fall days and will prevent the end of the season bugs from getting in as well. You can use stiff wire supports to make a mini greenhouse over each row (as pictured above), or just let the cover rest on your hardier veggies, such as cabbage and broccoli.
Row covers can only do so much; cold frames will help extend the growing season in your garden even further. Most years a cold frame is all you need to produce salad greens all winter long. A cold frame is just a shallow planting bed with glass, plastic or fiberglass covering the top. You can use old windows as tops and wood or straw bales as sides. To gain the most warming rays, position your top on a slope toward the south if possible. Fill your cold frame with half soil half compost and you’re good to go. Keep an eye on the internal temperature and prop one side of the cold frame open a bit to let air in and out with minimal heat loss.
It’s hard to be inspired to plant a whole new round of veggies. Most years, by the end of the summer I am somewhat ‘gardened out’, looking forward to the reduced workload and not having garden chores constantly in the back of my mind. However, like most of gardening, when you force yourself to just go ahead and do the work, you usually end up thanking yourself later.
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