It’s finally time to rake in the harvests! July and August are some of the most prolific months for gardeners in our region. All of our hard work is finally paying off in the form of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and so much more. There are even jokes going around on the internet about making sure to lock your car doors so you don’t get bags of unwanted squash and zucchini! While this is intended in jest, some people do have tons of extra produce and will try their best to share it with others to prevent it from going bad. No one wants to work hard to get a harvest and then have that harvest spoil because no one wants it. The harvests will soon be coming to a close, however, and then you will be safe from zucchini bandits!
In all seriousness, even though many things are coming to the end of their growing season, you can still plant several things in August for a fall harvest. For example you can sow peas in mid to late August for a fall crop. You can start seeds inside for fall crops like Brussels sprouts, and other heading brassicas. Finally, you can sow seeds for a late crop of leaf lettuce, mustard greens, Swiss chard and spinach. As you can see, there is so much still to be done in your garden, and season extension equipment can help you extend the growing season for these crops as well as others.
To extend the growing season, you can use unheated techniques such as floating row covers, or low tunnels. Our program uses floating row covers or hoop supported row covers also known as low tunnels. According to Wikipedia: Row covers are lightweight fabrics placed over plants to retain heat and can provide several degrees of frost protection. They can also protect crops from damage caused from extremes of heat or cold, which will enhance crop growth for quicker maturity and better quality under adverse weather conditions. Row covers allow rain to permeate the material, and also allow plants to breathe without holding in too much moisture because the row covers are fabric. Row cover material can be laid directly onto the crop (floating row covers), or laid over a framework of hoops or wires. In its simplest function, it allows a light frost to form on the cover instead of on the leaves beneath. Row covers must be pinned in place or weighted down on the edges.
Whether or not you choose to use season extension techniques in your garden, I hope your season has been fruitful. Gardens are a delight when all goes well and you have an abundant harvest. However, even if you have had a poor harvest, gardens can still teach us lessons about patience and perseverance. Be patient and maybe try again next year. If next year doesn’t work, there’s always the year after that. Sooner or later, your garden will be fabulous. Just try and try again and don’t ever give up!
Read more about season extension at: https://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms-seasonextension2012/. For more information on our program, including how to join us, visit: Https://www.tinyurl.com/LeeMasterGardeners.