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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.
1) Kohlrabi – 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?