There's time to plant a vegetable garden for fall

I didn't plant a vegetable garden this spring. I thought I would be quite happy buying my fresh produce from the farmers' markets. However, each day as I walk by my empty garden plot, I realize I miss my garden. So, I have decided to plant a fall garden.

I can't grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other hot-season vegetables now, but many vegetables will tolerate early frosts. Through Sept. 1, I can plant beets, Chinese cabbage, collard, kale, lettuce, radishes and spinach. In October, I can plant garlic.

I checked out maturity dates for these vegetables so that I could buy varieties with the shortest growing seasons. Early Wonder Tall Top beets take only 45 days to reach maturity. If I plant this weekend, I could have beets by Sept. 30. Golden beets, with orange skins and gold insides, also sound interesting. They take 55 days to mature, so I would be harvesting in mid-October. The Chioggia candy-striped beets also take 55 days. Bilko Chinese cabbage needs 54 days, but Minuet requires only 48 days. The Red Meat radish is white and green outside, looks like a watermelon inside and matures in 50 days. Pink Beauty and Cherriette are ready for harvest in only 26 days. In 28 days, I can have baby kale, such as the Winterbor or Red Russian and many kinds of lettuce. Most spinach varieties mature within 35 to 40 days, but baby spinach can be harvested much sooner.

To make my late garden vegetable plants thrive, I will turn the soil and add compost. As the seedlings sprout, I will need to protect them from the multitude of critters in my yard " bunnies, ground squirrels, voles, quail and other birds. I already have an automatic drip system with sprayers to efficiently water the area. I will sow the seeds, water them in, cover the bed with screening and wait for germination.

After a couple of weeks, I will thin out the plants, provide a little fertilizer and weed. When we start getting below-freezing temperatures, probably in early September, I will put mulch over the plants at night to keep them from freezing. Since northern Nevada usually has a lovely warm Indian summer, the plants should thrive.

Before too long, I will be picking and eating fresh garden veggies. I might even try to grow a tomato plant in a pot inside the house.

For information on gardening, contact me at 887-2252 or, or contact your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office.

Check out many useful horticulture publications at "Ask a Master Gardener" at

n JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension Educator for the

University of Nevada

Cooperative Extension.


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