Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Autumn Gardening on the East Coast (updated)

How many of you are planting items to grow in the autumn/fall? It took me a few years before I finally took the plunge. Now that I have, I'm hooked!

Last year, I tried growing beets, carrots, arugula, spinach and snap peas.  The beets, arugula and spinach all did very well. I left the carrots over the winter months and by the time spring came around, they were a bit soggy so that didn't quite work out.  Snap peas were just okay- they ended up tasting a little tough, which made me think perhaps I didn't choose the right variety to plant.
Beets harvested in November last year. 
This year, I've planted carrots, spinach, arugula, and beets. I'm trying to stick to things that I know we'll eat and enjoy.

There are many cool season crops that grow well in the fall months, including:
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Other greens like mache, tatsoi and mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Bok Choi
  • Broccoli
  • Rapini
  • Radishes
  • Swiss Chard
  • There is a great article in East Coast Living about fall garden crops that outlines some of the above; you can read it here.

I've found two things that help me to extend the season once frost develops: our covered raised beds and using straw to layer around the seedlings. I have two beds that have a cover- as an example, I have one on a smaller 3 x 3 bed using a lid like this one.  Regarding straw, I picked up a bail from a local farm supply store and have been using it for the past two years.  If you don't have access to straw, there are other alternatives for mulching outlined in this article.

The cover for one of our raised beds. 
If you need a little inspiration, browse through the photo gallery that Martha Stewart's blog just posted, it's gorgeous!

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