Thursday, July 18, 2013

Time To Plant for Fall


Most people don't realize that gardens are a year round deal.  Typically we think that we plant in the spring and then that's it.  If you miss the spring planting, you have missed the boat and have to wait until next spring for a garden.
THAT'S NOT TRUE
Gardens are year round.  There is a vegetable you can plant every single month out of the year.  Even in the hottest month of summer and the coldest month of winter.  Especially here in the desert.   As a matter of fact, some summer plants prefer the coolness of fall or winter over the blistering desert heat.  And late plantings might thrive by missing the bug infestations of early summer.  It doesn't get so cold in the high desert that certain winter varieties can't make it either. Even in Vermont you can have a garden in the middle of winter.  Carrots for instance, love to be covered in snow and it ev en makes them taste better.
So now that it's summer, that means it is time to start planning your fall garden.  The first thing to be aware of is how long it takes your veggie to mature.  Here in the desert, you only want short-day varieties.  Short day refers to the amount of (ironically) darkness the plant gets exposed to.  The more darkness, the better these varieties do at flowering.  Scientists used to believe that it was the amount of light the plants were exposed to that caused flowering, but discovered it is the darkness.  However, the short/long day designation stuck.
Short day plants are also quick growers.  Just like very cold places like Vermont, we in the desert have short growing seasons.  In more moderate climates, there is three growing periods: spring through mid-summer,  mid-summer through early fall, and late fall through winter.  In the desert, we have four growing periods: spring, summer, fall, winter.  This makes the amount of time we have to grow plants much shorter.  For the most part, a plant started in march doesn't have until July to grow.  It needs to be done by the end of May.  Plants that do good in cold areas usually do good in the desert.
You can start planting fall varieties next month.  July is just WAY too hot in the desert for sensitive plants like carrots, radishes, beets, etc.  However, August has usually cooled down and is humid enough for these plants to spring up happily so that by the time fall rolls around you have tons of fall plants for harvest.
 Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is currently offering 25% off seed purchases with the code FALLGARDEN13