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After a cruel winter we had this year, the weather gods seem to be kinder to us now. We have been enjoying the beautiful hot days, with just a bit of rain at this corner of the world. Though we are pretty novice gardeners, almost everything seems to be growing very well this year, and we have been harvesting beautiful veggies every day. If you have been following our blog for a while, you know that we have transformed our older backyard shed into a greenhouse. We are hoping to be able to extend our gardening season and grow cold-hardy veggies in winter as well 😉 For now, here is our quick garden update and planting for fall harvest guide. I hope you will find this information helpful 🙂
And no, it is not too late to plant now for fall harvest!
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July Garden Update
This is our second real gardening season. Our gardening experience before was pretty limited to my childhood years trying to help my mom in her garden, and to my husband’s and mine attempts to grow a containers garden. Therefore, we have been trying and growing lots of new for us plants this season and see which ones we like and will keep on growing, and which ones are easier to find locally.
Some veggies we grow were on our plates for the first time in our lives, and we did like them. There were others we said that it was possibly a waste of our precious gardening space. Not because we did not like them, as I don’t think there is such an “animal”. But mainly for the space/time/outcome reason. We do try to stagger our harvests, but there are still lots of fruit and vegetables that we don’t want to give up growing. As you know it takes a loooong time to grow tomatoes. But! The taste of the homegrown tomatoes is absolutely worth all the waiting! If you too have a limited garden space, you are probably also trying to stagger planting and harvesting accordingly.
So, what we are growing this year.
We have 24 tomato plants (8 varieties), 10 cucumber plants (3 varieties), 6 eggplant plants, 3 raised beds of potatoes (3 varieties), 3 zucchini plants, 3 summer squash (pattypan) plants, 1 pumpkin plant, 2 watermelon plants, carrots, parsnips, 3 cabbage varieties, a few of each: broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Chinese cabbage; kale, various herbs (oregano, marjoram, dill, coriander, garlic chives, chives, sage, and chamomile), a few lettuce varieties, beans, peas, and beets. And we start and grow them all from seeds.
The list might not look like a lot to some experienced gardeners, but it helps us having fresh salads and veggie main dishes for the most of the summer plus allows us to freeze some for winter 🙂
Anyway, it is the end of July, and we have lots of tomatoes, but they are just starting to turn red. We heard many gardeners in our area complaining about how everything is coming late this year. So, we don’t feel very bad about late tomatoes 🙂
We have been picking 5-6 cucumbers every day for about a month now. We eat them fresh in salads, pickle them to eat now, and will be pickling and canning them starting next week. Stay tuned for our canned pickles recipe 😉
We don’t grow all the vegetables we eat!
Because we live in the area surrounded by lots of farms, we do have access to the products which are not feasible growing on a small urban lot. For example, it is easier for us to purchase non-GMO corn directly from a farm rather than try and grow the quantities we need (buy local ;)). Because we love corn, we are still growing a few plants, but they are more like an experiment crop for us 🙂 Same is with blueberries. British Columbia is the largest blueberry-growing region in Canada, and Canada is the second largest blueberry-growing country in the world. We have access to an organic u-pick blueberry farm just 5 minutes drive from our house. Though we have purchased a pink lemonade blueberry bush this year, it will take a few years to start getting the fruit from it. Also, we will need to get another plant for cross-pollination.
Do you want to know what you can plant now and harvest in the fall?
If your answer is yes, then keep on reading 😉
There are a few things you need to know.
Check your frost dates first
Find your frost dates (US and Canada). Some plants, like tomatoes and basil, won’t tolerate cool weather at all. Whereas the others, like kale and other brassicas, peas and some pole beans, would be the better candidates for fall planting.
Next, calculate the right timing. This is an important combination of plants’ days to maturity and the lighting conditions. Without going too deep into science and explaining how photosynthesis process works, we need to remember that the plants need a specific number of light hours to grow successfully. I don’t recall what book it was (I will update this if I find my notes on this), but the plants’ growth stops if they get less than 6-7 hours of light. Therefore, we need to take the length of the day/light into consideration to make sure the plants have matured before the days become shorter than 7-8 hours/day.
Some resources to help you out 🙂
There are a few apps (paid and free) and websites that can help you with planning your planting nowadays. I will list some of our favourite sources, but a general rule is to calculate the plant’s dates to maturity so it is all mature before the daylight is less than 6-7 hours.
West Coast Seeds has good growing charts for most fruit, vegetables, and flowers for North America’s regions.
Patrick from One Yard Revolution has a Google Spreadsheet available on his channel. You can make a copy of the document and update it with your gardening zone information to get the planting charts.
Grow Veg has an app (paid) which can help you with lots of gardening questions. They have a free trial (which I used), so you can try it out and see if you like it. I did not proceed to they paid option as we cannot budget for it now.
This is what we have done so far
We have seeded more cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and kohlrabi 4 weeks ago, and they are now ready to be transplanted to the ground. Kales and pac choy seedlings were started 2 weeks ago and are still too little to be transplanted. The brussel sprouts got transplanted last weekend.
It’s been very hot here lately, and we are lucky not to be worried about slugs eating the young seedlings. But, for that same reason, we have more white cabbage butterflies. Their babies (those ugly green caterpillars) like our cabbages a lot. We don’t use any pesticides (either organic or non-organic) in the garden. Just keep on picking them from the plants. Covering the plants with a light protective material as soon as you plant the seedlings out can help to prevent the infestation.
We are growing a few beets varieties as well. This year we have added the Winterkeeper Lutz to our collection as we heard very positive reviews about it. We now have about 40 plants (various). If you are wondering why we need that many, I can tell you I love borscht! I can eat it almost every day, and it is my favourite dish in winter! Let me know if you make it 🙂
Carrots are another great vegetable to start and grow for the fall harvest. Both beets and carrots (and parsnips) can also be “stored” right in the raised bed and harvested during the winter months (if the soil in your area does not freeze).
Peas and Beans
Peas like a cooler weather, therefore, they are perfect for planting in early spring, and in mid-summer for the fall harvest. Bush beans are fast growing and can also be planted twice in a season. Our pole beans are now growing nicely up the garage wall. Similar to other plants in our garden, they are slower this year. They will be done well before the first frost.
This is our planting for fall harvest update
Do you have plants you grow in fall and winter? What are your favourite ones? What would be your advice to the novice gardeners like us? Please comment below 😉 Wanna keep in touch and get my weekly newsletter with the latest from our blog? Subscribe to my newsletter on the form below 🙂