Oh mid-summer, how I love you! With the recent stretch of hot weather, we’re now knee deep in beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini, and every meal revolves around what’s ready to pick. Yet, as I pull the early crops from the garden – bolted lettuce, spent peas, and mature garlic – it’s time to think about succession planting to ensure that we have homegrown veggies and herbs for the coming months. Here are three of my favourite crops that should be seeded now (early August).
An under-used and under-appreciated fall crop, kohlrabi is very easy to grow, quick to mature, and oh, so tasty. It’s also the perfect choice for succession planting – and for kids, who will enjoy the odd rounded stems in shades of apple green or deep purple. Direct sow in the garden 8 to 10 weeks before the first fall frost, or get a jump start by starting the seed indoors under grow lights. Harvest when the stems are 3 inches across and enjoy them julienned with a veggie dip, grated into a slaw, stir-fried, roasted, or made into pickles. Don’t forget to eat the leaves! Steam or stir-fry them for a nutritious cooked green.
2) Japanese turnips
‘Hakurei’ Japanese turnips are a farmer’s market favourite and are both quick and easy to grow. They’re ready to pull just 5 weeks from seeding when the creamy white roots are 1 to 1 1/2 inches across. Once picked, don’t toss the tasty greens, which can be cooked like spinach or eaten raw as a salad green. We simply wash, chop and dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of salt. Bon appétit!
3) Baby beets
Growing up, we planted long rows of ‘Detroit Dark Red’ and ‘Cylindra’ beets for a summer harvest, never realizing that we could practice succession planting and seed again for autumn. Today, I grow a handful of varieties for fall, which are picked when still young and tender. ‘Golden’ is a bright yellow-orange beet that doesn’t bleed when sliced, ‘Early Wonder Tall Top’ is the best variety for greens, and ‘Red Ace’ is extremely reliable and ready to pull in just 50 days. Direct seed 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost, keeping the crop well watered in times of drought for the highest quality roots.
What are you planting for fall?
Great info. Where can I get the seeds for these?
Niki Jabbour says
Hey Deanna.. depending where you are located.. you can get it from Johnny’s Seeds (US) or Halifax Seed (Canada).. all of these are easy to find and sooooo worth growing!
Thank you! A very well timed post as I have some gaps in the garden I have been looking to fill!
Niki Jabbour says
Awesome!! Plus, still time for bush beans, dwarf peas, carrots, and many, many greens! 🙂
We planted hakurei turnips in the spring and unfortunately the roots were attacked by root maggots – I didn’t put row cover over the bed like I did with my brassicas. Wonder if that would have helped?
We had great Kongo kohlrabi for the last month or so – it’s easy to let them get too big and then they get woody so we tried to pick them while they were about tennis ball size. So sweet! I’ve seeded more in the garden for the fall because we love them so much.
I used the greens in my morning smoothies – quite the punch of nutrients!
I’ll have to re-read the section on succession planting in your book, Nikki, which BTW is an awesome book! Promoting it on my blog and plan to write a review on it soon.
Niki Jabbour says
Thanks so much Marc! I really appreciate your kind comments. Yes, Hakurei turnips can be popular with the root maggots. I find that a mid to late summer planting is less affected than a spring planting. I haven’t grown Kongo kohlrabi (adding it to my list!), but I love Kossack, which is also a huge growing type. I’ve had stems grow to about 10 inches across and still remain tender. Thanks again! – Niki