–Karline Jensen, High Rocks, Hillsboro, WV
At our recent Season Extension workshop, we started out with a circle sharing our experiences with frost. Some gardeners shared about crops they had successfully harvested after frost — kale, carrots, potatos, spinach, beets, and other crops that stood the cold and remained in good condition. Others told of crops they had covered or protected somehow, that would have been damaged had they not helped them out a bit. Like peppers or green beans. And some told of the crops that had not survived, the sad tale of venturing into the garden after a cold and frosty night, to find tomatoes or cucumbers frozen to mush. We talked about getting your basil in before it drops below 40, and digging sweet potatoes before frost; even though they seem like they should be safe underground like potatoes and carrots, somehow the cold will travel down the vines and into the tubers.
Then we went into the high tunnel to plant some fall crops. First, we sampled the broccoli.
It had started producing bountifully in June, and was still putting out side shoots over two months later. But, they were starting to taste bitter. So time to pull them out to make room for something new, and cart them off to the compost pile.
We cleared away the mulch…
Scuffle-hoed any little weeds that had managed to grow under it…
And dug with our forks to loosen the soil, particularly the edges of the beds that had been stepped on as the paths got wider throughout the summer.
We even found a few potatoes from plants that had volunteered from last year.
We raked the edges in a little to redefine the paths, and then raked the surface smooth for the seeder.
Now it was time to plant. We adjusted the seeder for lettuce and carrot seeds, and tested to make sure a good number of seeds would come out.
We planted 3 rows of carrots in one bed, and 6 rows of lettuce in another.
Now it was time to water them in, to give them some good momentum for sprouting.
Meanwhile, getting out the row covers from last year, and checking to see if they had any holes in them…
Then put in the wire hoops to support the covers…
And finally, covering them up.
Then we went inside for everyone to plan their own fall gardens. Here, in Pocahontas County WV, our chart said to plant carrots until August 27, spinach until October 1, baby lettuce until October 8, and mesclun and radishes until October 15, as long as you’re planning to cover them with row covers, and don’t mind going out on a cold day to harvest. Our last 10 hour day at this latitude will be November 19, so the crops will have time to start growing before the light levels get too low for them to do much. Looking forward to delicious salads into the winter!