With the constant heat and drought, it may feel like summer will never end but in five short weeks the kids will be back in school (in some form or another) and the nights will be drawing in. If you have been enjoying summer harvests, consider fall crops as a way to extend the growing season.
Similar to planting in the spring, you can direct sow seeds or start seeds indoors. Starting seeds indoors is a good way to avoid the heat, dry soil and troublesome insects that plague seeds and tender young plants. Forget the tomatoes, now is the time to think about cool weather crops such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale, green onions, radishes, beets and carrots. To determine when to plant use the ‘days to maturity’ on the back of the seed package and count backwards from our first expected fall frost date (around the second week of October for most of the GTA). Vegetables like cabbage take a little longer to mature and would benefit from being started indoors under grow lights. Be sure to choose varieties that can withstand mild frosts or nights below 10C.
- Carrots- 10-12 weeks before the fall frost date
- Radishes- 8-10 weeks before the fall frost date
- Green onions- 9 weeks before the fall frost date
- Spinach- 6-8 weeks before the fall frost date
- Beets- 8 weeks before the fall frost date
- Swiss chard or kale- 4 weeks before the fall frost date for baby leaves
Start Indoors (and transplant outdoors approx. 3 weeks later)
- Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower- start indoors 10-12 weeks before the fall frost date
Some care will have to be taken to have a successful fall harvest. Ensure the soil is consistently moist after planting seeds. We usually receive much less rain in August than we do in April, so watering will need to be done frequently. Be aware of where you are planting the second round of crops – if you removed a heavy feeder like potatoes or cucumbers, replace the nutrients by adding a decent amount of compost to the garden. Consider shading the plants from the sun during the month of August and the beginning of September. If the crops were planted a little later than planned or aren’t as developed by the time the frosts hit try row covers, cold frames or cloches to protect your plants.