The Garden Beckons: Time for Fall Planting

By Analiese Paik

Did the summer garden pass you by? Between running two children back and forth to camps, managing a busy work schedule and taking a late June vacation, my summer garden is purely accidental and a lesson in survival of the fittest. We did plant two varieties of radishes, but the homemade compost sprouted tomatoes that thrived in the blistering early summer heat, leaving the radishes no chance of survival. Imagine our surprise when we returned from vacation to find a bed of tomato plants where we had planted radishes!

A patio box has overwintered herbs – tarragon, oregano and bay laurel (surprise!) – but no cilantro, basil or parsley. An embarrassment really. One of the raised beds sports an enormous horseradish that I promise to finally harvest this November. I know enough to wear a mask and process the roots outdoors.

I’ve been feeling guilty, remiss in my duties as a gardener, and promised to make it up this fall. The collection of seed packets beckoned, along with 7 empty beds (okay maybe they had a few weeds in them), and my children promised to help. (I confess that sending them to farm camp at Wakeman Town Farm might have been a tad self serving).

My youngest tends his seeds planted during Wakeman Town Farm camp, planning to add them to our fall garden.

Mike Aitkenhead at Wakeman Town Farm said to get the seeds in this week, firing off a list that included broccoli and peas. Just the mention of peas had me excited. I think I’ll freeze some for Thanksgiving. Yesterday my son planted a dozen different seeds in an egg carton at camp, including broccoli, kolrabi, and kale, which we’ll transplant when they’re seedlings.

Farah Masani, a contributor to our new “Word from the Farm” column suggested leeks, cabbage, chicory, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes, kohlrabi, fall/storage carrots, broccoli rabe and spinach and arugula to over winter.

These seeds, acquired over the summer during a visit to Comstock Ferre in Wethersfield, made it into the garden today.

After deliberating over seeds packets from Comstock Ferre, Baker Creek, Seeds of Change, High Mowing and Seeds Savers’ Exchange, my youngest child and I chose a manageable number to plant in the afternoon between thunderstorms. At dinner, he rattled off the list “Atomic Red Carrots, Japanese Minowase Daikon, Chinese White Winter Radish, Arugula, Rouge d’Hiver (lettuce), and Extra Large Carentan Leeks.” Tomorrow we’ll plant the cilantro, bok choy, mizuna, 2 types of kale, and peas. If we’re feeling daring, we’ll plant some onions. We hope to have a successful enough planting to avoid purchasing a fall CSA.

Whatever you decide to plant for the fall, do it now. Borrow seeds from a friend or head to the local gardening center to buy a few packets. If you need any planting advice, post below and we’ll help you out. What’s going into your fall garden?

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