|Sunflower in the foreground, red okra in the background|
Saturday, August 27, 2016
End of summer is a great time to tidy garden beds and harvest herbs. As the days get shorter, growth slows and before long the sun cannot support all the greenery from summer. Peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers will keep producing through frost. Keep the fruits picked to keep them producing. You can also sow seeds of cool weather lovers for fall and early winter harvests.
This is the perfect time to harvest your herbs. You can cut them back so they remain lush, improving the tidiness of your garden, and providing herbs for the winter ahead. Cutting them back will help the plants build stronger root systems. Trimming does encourage new growth as well. You just don't want to prune too close to frost as new growth makes the plant less hardy.
I dry my herbs to preserve them. I put loosely in a paper bag in a dry, warm area out of the sun and let dry naturally. Loose is the key here so they get good air circulation and do not mold. They should be completely dry in about 3-4 weeks. I like putting them in clothes closets to dry as they release such great fragrance and the darkness helps keep the flavor in the herb.
Once dried, remove the leaves from woody herbs and store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. With a soft herb like chives, you can just crumble into the airtight container. I use wide mouth canning jars for herb storage or freezer bags kept in a dark location.
For more ideas on herbs, Use herbs for signature desserts and grown up beverages, Quick tip on fresh flavor herb preservation and herbal butters, Homemade salad dressing recipes with garden herbs, and Make your own teas from garden grown herbs
If the winter is not a bad one, most perennial herbs like chives, oregano, sage, savory, and thyme can be harvested year round straight from the garden.
Fall planting guide for cool season crops
In September, plant more greens, carrots, and radishes. October is the month to plant garlic for next year’s harvest. Time to plant garlic! With growing tips...... Buy early because the most popular varieties sell out early. I will plant the best cloves from this year's harvest. I have both regular garlic and elephant garlic to plant. I like elephant garlic because it produces such huge cloves.
You can pick up transplants like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, kale, as well as herbs at some nurseries since gardening has become so popular, buy them on line or grow from seed. Everything that loves spring also thrive in fall into early winter. Lettuce is a favorite for fall.
For more on fall planting, Time to set out transplants for fall, winter, & spring harvests
Caring for your new seeds and transplants
Like in the spring, newly sown seeds need moisture to sprout. Keep seeds and transplants moist until they get their first real set of leaves and are well established. Then water as needed.
Many crops you can harvest into December and beyond, depending on how cold fall is. Some get sweeter with some frost, like carrots, chard, and lettuce. With cover, you can harvest all the way through winter!
A quick reminder, save the seeds from your best performers to plant next year! You can replant seeds from any heirlooms or open pollinated plants. Not only does it save you money, but it also gives you the plants that do the best under your garden and zone conditions.