Del Norte Gardening: Time to act if you want a fall harvest

By Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayers Williams August 04, 2011 04:51 pm

Now that August is upon us, it finally feels like summertime.

 Our tomatoes are just starting to turn red, onions are sizing up and the overall bountiful harvest has returned. This is a very busy time of year for us at Ocean Air Farms, and it is also the hardest time to stay focused on the future.

Why do we struggle so much in August? Because, we are always caught up in the moment: Harvesting, weeding, harvesting, weeding, river.  With all this excitement going on, we often lose track of the fact that we have only two more months of active plant growth.

So, back to thinking about the future. If we stay on this path of only maintaining and harvesting from our current plantings, some time around October, our bounty turns to scanty. The fact is that now, what seems to us like “finally summertime,” is the most important time to plant anything you expect to harvest this winter and spring.

Every single year our winter garden falls short of our expectations. We’re not saying we don’t plant a winter garden, but back at planning time we dream about the full array of winter produce.  Our list looks something like this;  carrots, beets, leeks, kale, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and some winter hardy lettuces.

So, if it seems as hard for you to think about planting your winter garden as it was for us, let us share with you the reasoning.  Remember that August and September are the last months of the “growing season.” By October growth virtually stops.  So, if  you have planned well enough to have established cabbage plants and broccoli that is just showing its little crown, you can expect growth to drastically slow down and to pick off these plants for months.

Another concept that has taken us years to admit is the differences between June and July garden growth and what happens in August and September.  Well, in the early part of the summer we are blessed with fair temps and long days, plants tend to respond very well to this.

Now, here in August, we are so caught up in the present that we forget the days are shortening and the temps are slowly dropping.  Another local fact we’d like to share is, August is the month with the biggest sway in temperatures, it is home to some of the warmest days, but also we see cooler nights.

We see this as the first step in the closing door of “easy” growing.  All of this reasoning comes down to one important fact. If you do not have plants that have a good head start on the coming weather, you stand little chance of seeing growth from October or anytime afterward.

So, this is it, plan and act now!  Your future of garden goodies is depending on your foresight. Come see us at the Farmers Market or “like” Ocean Air Farms on Facebook, and we’ll share our updates on continuing the harvest all winter long.

Del Norte Gardening runs every fourth week on Thursdays. Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick.

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