If you love harvesting fresh vegetables from your garden in the summer, here’s a piece of good news for you: you can grow vegetables all year round. People who grow their own vegetables are more likely to eat more fresh vegetables. Vegetable gardening allows you to live a healthier lifestyle by letting you control what you eat.
However, you can’t grow every vegetable at any time of the year. Different climates are suitable for different plants. For example, if spinach is planted in hot weather, it quickly goes to seed. By properly planning your garden you can enjoy fresh quality vegetables even in the off-season. Here are some great tips.
Depending on how cold your winter is, you may stay inside and plan your vegetable garden rather than going out to do any actual planting. Winter might be the time to yield root crops if you had planted them in late summer. In most places, you can’t actually plant crops in winter, but you can make use of this time by getting ready for the next year’s growing season.
Winter is a good time to improve your soil if your ground is not covered with snow. Use organic matter like well-composed manure and leaves that you collected from your yard in the fall to improve the soil. The healthy bacteria and worms in the soil will break down the organic matter and improve your soil’s nutritional value.
Its time to start planting your cool weather crops when the winter is coming to an end. Some crops are not fond of heat and won’t do well in hot weather. Spinach is a major example.
In the spring, it is best to plant Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Spinach and other greens you like to have in salad as soon as the soil can be worked.
You can also plant Onions early. Usually, planting onion sets are easier. Onion sets are miniature onions which were started from the previous year’s seed. It is tough to grow onions from seed but planting sets practically guarantee success.
Radishes do well if planted in early spring. This cool-weather crop sprouts quickly and they help to repel pest. Peas are cool weather crops as well, depending on the variety they can be planted or may need a trellis to climb on.
You can start seedlings indoors in late winter. Peppers, tomatoes and other alike vegetables need to be well matured before being relocated into the garden. Before transplanting tomatoes require 6-8 weeks of growth where peppers could benefit from 8-19 weeks.
Don’t plant all your seedlings before the threat of frost is past. Because you might get a hard frost and lose all of them. If you are prepared to do some extra work you can protect your crops easily from frost. Planting early has advantages because you will be able to harvest much earlier. This will be beneficial if you are hoping to be the first one in the area to sell a particular vegetable.
You should plant your potatoes in the late spring since they will need some time to sprout they shouldn’t be at risk of freezing up at an event of frost. You can also plant carrot this time too.
Early summer is the time after the threat of frost has passed; this may vary depending on the area. Early summer is the time of the year that most people look forward to.
You can plant peppers, tomatoes, beans, corn, pumpkins, melons and anything else you wish to grow in your garden. These mentioned plants and a lot of others thrive in warm and well-drained soil.
Mid-Summer comes with the excitement of harvesting your summer crops such as cucumbers, beans, and tomatoes. Beans that are freshly snapped are one of the best summer treats of the garden.
Mid-summer is also the time to start planning for your fall garden. So you can continue gardening and provide fresh vegetables for your family long after the summer is over.
When it comes to fall gardening the main concern is the fall frost date. Be sure to choose vegetables that will mature before that date. This may be a good time to select early maturing variety. The ideal vegetables for a fall crop are bean and cool weather crops that you planted in the spring.
Planting a fall crop will provide you with the second harvest of fresh radishes, lettuce or even peas prior to the cold weather.
Late fall is the time to wrap-up your harvesting unless you want to leave crops in the ground for winter harvest, like turnips.
Dig up all winter storage onions and potatoes and harvest your winter vine crops such as squash and pumpkin. All the above mentioned don’t need harvesting until after a frost. The above-ground plants will be killed by a frost but the vegetables will be fine. But make sure you harvest them before the temperature drops below freezing.
When it comes to extending your growing season, don’t be afraid to experiment. With proper planning and re-planting regularly, you can grow more vegetables than previously you thought possible. When continuously re-planted, you can harvest certain plants for a long period of time. Beans are one of these bountiful crops. Peas, radishes, turnips and leafy greens are some other crops that paybacks from second or third planting. Plant later again in two to three weeks after the first planting.
Be cautious with plants that finished producing. Most crops are safe to be till under, but be careful with crops such as tomatoes, which are very prone to disease. Tilling under diseased crop could infect the next year’s crop. Concerning this matter, vine crops can be risky too. You might want to avoid tilling them under or including them to your compost pile.
Some Tips for Prolonging the Growing Season
These are some of the tips you can apply to stretch out your harvest and make the most of your edible garden.
- Make a Plan: the best way to plan a year-round edible garden is by planning what crops you would like to harvest every single month. Then figure out when and how much you need to plant.
- Plant Successively: plant seedlings or sow round of seeds frequently every two or three weeks. So you will be able to harvest the later plantings when the previous plantings are dying off.
- Keep the Soil Healthy: growing year-round could drain the soil of nutrients. Throughout the year, keep it nutrient-rich by rotating crops and keep adding compost.
- Plant in Mobile Containers: if you plant your crop in a container, it gives you the freedom to move it around so you can provide your plant with as much light as it needs. The soil in containers in the spring also tends to heat up quickly which could lead to an earlier harvest.
- Be Prepared for the Frost: cold frames or frost blankets can provide protection for your plant. These measures will help to keep your harvest going after the beginning of frost.
- Growing Perennials and Annuals Crops: with perennials such as asparagus, strawberries or blueberries, you can have harvest year after year just from one planting. On the other hand, annual crops provide variety as well as the chance to do testing with new hybrids. You can plan to plant annual crops to fill in between your perennial crops.
Start small to be successful. Pick one or two vegetables or fruits for each season you would like to harvest, then from there grow your garden and start growing all year round.