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In the event you missed out on rising a summer time vegetable garden – or are having fun with homegrown produce proper now and wish to lengthen your bounty — it’s time to begin planning.

In most temperate areas, the window of alternative for rising cool-season crops is opening. Take benefit, and also you’ll be positioned to reap greens lengthy after your neighbors have packed up their gardening provides. Homegrown Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving, anybody?

The method for beginning seeds and planting starter crops is similar year-round. However when planting fall crops in areas that have frosts and freezes, timing must be exact. In the event you plant cool-weather crops too early, they’ll wilt below the summer time solar; too late, and frost might kill them earlier than they attain maturity.

To get it proper, you’ll have to know your area’s first common frost date. I just like the device posted on The Nationwide Gardening Affiliation’s web site ( https://garden.org/apps/frost-dates/ ). Enter your zip code, then scroll all the way down to the chart labeled “Within the Fall.”

Be aware of the date within the area the place the “10%” column intersects with the “First 32-Diploma” row. That represents the date when, on common, there’s a 10 % probability the temperature will drop to 32 levels. It’s a conservative estimate, however essentially so: Playing on one thing as unpredictable because the climate can result in a harvest of remorse.

Subsequent, depend backward out of your first frost date by the variety of “days to maturity” listed on the plant tag or seed packet, and use that focus on date as a place to begin.

There are some exceptions: Within the southernmost areas, for instance, a second planting of so-called summer time greens like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash and beans may be planted in August and September, however cool-season crops ought to wait till October or November. In areas just like the Pacific Northwest, fall crops can usually be harvested straight by winter.

Leafy greens like arugula, Asian greens, collards, kale, lettuces, mustard greens, spinach and Swiss chard – and root crops like beets, radishes and parsnips – thrive finest in cool temperatures and mature nicely below the shortening durations of daylight typical of fall.

Their seeds may be sown immediately into the garden or out of doors containers in most areas. However as a result of germination is improved in cooler temperatures, beginning these seeds indoors below air con will improve success in hot-summer climates.

Earlier than sowing or transplanting, amend garden soil with beneficiant quantities of natural matter like compost or aged manure, or combine in a slow-release fertilizer (observe package deal instructions). In the event you’re planting root crops, loosen the soil 10-12 inches deep to ease their development downward.

Plant seeds on the depth really helpful on their packet, usually roughly twice their width, and observe spacing necessities to keep away from overcrowding. Preserve the soil moist, taking care to water gently to keep away from washing away seeds. Agency the soil gently to pack it into place.

If seeds are tiny, directions might point out “scattering” and “thinning.” This implies sprinkling seeds over the soil in rows, then eradicating further sprouts to realize the suitable spacing necessities for the crops.

After seeds sprout, apply mulch to retain moisture, hold the soil temperature even and discourage weeds from taking maintain. And pull up weeds that do current to eradicate competitors for water and vitamins. Preserve crops well-watered throughout the remaining summer time months to forestall wilting and warmth stress.

The flavour of cole crops — Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale and kohlrabi — is improved by a light-weight frost, outlined as an in a single day dip to 32 levels.

Artichokes, arugula, beets, carrots, cauliflower, celery, endive, escarole, lettuce, parsnips, radicchio, Swiss chard and lots of Asian greens can stand up to publicity to a tough frost (under 28 levels) for a restricted time.

Others may be protected when in a single day frosts are predicted by protecting them with a row cowl, bedsheet, blanket or tarp. Bear in mind to take away the safety within the morning.

Jessica Damiano writes usually about gardening for The Related Press. A grasp gardener and educator, she writes The Weekly Grime publication and creates an annual wall calendar of day by day gardening tips. Ship her a word at jessica@jessicadamiano.com and discover her at jessicadamiano.com and on Instagram @JesDamiano.

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