Grow your food year round

August is an ideal time to plant seeds for a second gardening season that can be as productive as your major early spring plantings.

For a delicious and very nutritious cornucopia of fall meals, late summer is the time to plant lettuces, some herbs  (dill, garlic, chives, arugula, parsley),  healthy leafy greens (chard, kale, pak choi), and healthy root veggies (carrots, beets, leeks, radishes, fennel), and brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts).

Late planted crops have less competition from weeds and pests and grow beautifully with less garden work. In mild-winter areas of the country, you’ll have great harvests in time for Thanksgiving and many crops will hold perfectly through the low light winter months without bolting to seed or becoming bitter tasting as they would in the heat of early summer.

It may seem odd to be starting new seeds when a lot of your summer produce such as squash and tomatoes are still cranking, but it is well worth the effort. For reliable harvests in cooler weather, seedlings must have good initial growth and well-established root systems. The goal is to have fully grown, ready-to-pick plants that basically store themselves in the garden throughout the fall, so you can pick them as you need them over a long sustained harvest season.

Start seeds in containers or in a garden area with dappled sun or light shade — wherever seeds can germinate comfortably out of the hot sun but still get plenty of light after seedlings are well-established. Plant seedlings in well-prepared moist soil in the early morning or evening so they will have the advantage of cooler night temperatures to settle in and minimize shock.

Once the seedlings have acclimated, don’t forget to supply adequate moisture to these young crops and fertilize them regularly in the early growing stages. In USDA zones 8, 9, and 10, some fall -planted crops may overwinter as small plants and wait for spring temperatures to rise and daytime hours to get longer before heading or leafing up.

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