It’s al­ready time to plan your fall vegetable gar­den

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jodi Tor­pey

Be­lieve it or not, it’s time to start plan­ning your fall vegetable gar­den. Re­ally.

Time waits for no gar­dener, es­pe­cially when it comes to the fast-fly­ing days of sum­mer. If you want to keep har­vest­ing fresh veg­eta­bles long af­ter other gar­den­ers are re­lax­ing on the couch, you’ll need to start soon.

Cool-sea­son veg­eta­bles help ex­tend the gar­den­ing sea­son, es­pe­cially if they can be ready to har­vest in about 60-80 days. The eas­i­est method is to buy trans­plants of fall crops, al­though seeds work for some veg­gies, too.

The key to fall gar­den­ing suc­cess is se­lect­ing veg­eta­bles with the short­est time to ma­tu­rity and then tim­ing the plant­ing. The goal is to make sure veg­eta­bles are ready to har­vest be­fore the re­ally cold weather ar­rives.

Use a cal­en­dar to count back from the date of the av­er­age first frost for your area and match that to the num­ber of days to ma­tu­rity for each fast-grow­ing vegetable you want to plant.

In Den­ver the av­er­age is around the first week in Oc­to­ber, though it can be ear­lier or later. If 60-day broc­coli is planted in mid-July, plan for a late Septem­ber har­vest. (Plants will be slower-grow­ing than in sum­mer.)

Other fall vegetable choices in­clude beets, car­rots, radishes, kohlrabi, parsnips and peas. Look for va­ri­eties that are pro­moted as cold-tol­er­ant.

Spinach, kale, let­tuce and Swiss chard are also good choices be­cause they can be eaten while leaves are still small.

To plant, re­move weeds and sum­mer veg­eta­bles that are past their prime. Loosen the soil to about 6 to 8 inches deep and work in an inch of com­post to give plants a good start. A light ap­pli­ca­tion of a balanced fer­til­izer will keep pro­duc­tion high.

Wa­ter the space to re­duce the sum­mer soil tem­per­a­ture just be­fore plant­ing. Seeds can be planted slightly deeper than in spring to help them stay cool and moist. Keep the fall gar­den wa­tered to give seeds and plants a good start. A light layer of mulch is a good idea, too.

As the sum­mer days grow shorter and night­time tem­per­a­tures start to dip, be ready to cover plants with row cover cloth, sheets or plas­tic milk jugs. Some plants, like kale, might even keep pro­duc­ing into win­ter if they’re well pro­tected from what­ever weather comes their way.

Kathryn Scott, The Den­ver Post

Char­lotte Got­tlieb plants a row of broc­coli, which she will har­vest into the fall, in her gar­den in Ar­vada on June 30. Gar­den­ers who want to harveset veg­eta­bles in the fall should plan now and start plant­ing soon.

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