With summer underway, home gardeners have started to look forward to finishing the planting season and harvesting in the fall.
Lynn Hoffmann, a master gardener with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association, said that leafy vegetables like lettuce, kale, collards and Chinese cabbage are among the vegetables that can be planted to add some last-minute veggies to gardens.
“These vegetable crops like cool temperatures and good moisture in the soil,” she said. “You can plant seeds in the early fall and get some leafy greens from your garden.”
Hoffmann said that vegetables like beans and carrots can still be planted during the summer and spinach and garlic bulbs can be planted early in the fall.
Hoffman said that people who plant vegetables or plants in their garden in the middle of and late in the summer will need to keep the soil moist.
“It is important to keep the soil moist when you put in seeds in the late summer,” she said. “You don’t want the soil or seeds to dry out during the germination phase. Seedlings are very susceptible to the often dramatic weather fluctuations in the fall so you need to keep the garden monitored.”
Hoffmann said to extend the growing season for vegetables a gardener can also use cold frames — an enclosed structure that protects plants from adverse weather, and row covers that protect plants from cold and wind, keep soil and plants from overheating and keep insects from infecting the plants.
Hoffmann said that cold frames are easy to make and use.
She recommended using 2x10 lumber and making the structure 8 feet long by 4 feet wide to provide lots of room for salad greens and herbs.
“You pretty much can have a mini-greenhouse that will keep temperatures two to 10 degrees warmer than the outside,” Hoffmann said. “Many cold frames that are situated in a sunny, protected area of your yard can often produce greens even with snow on the ground.”