Planting Tips for Your Favorite Fall Veggies!
#1 Fall Veggie is KALE! Highest in bioavailable calcium, great for women! Super plant per square foot return on space used! Cold hardy, is quite tasty after a bit o’ frost! Though kale will grow year ’round in SoCal, it thrives in winter. In spring to early summer, aphids and white flies are real pests, and rather than fight them, I just take the plant down, replanting again in fall. Especially the curly leaf variety. I prefer the young fresh leaves, and usually I need room for summer plants anyway. Later in the season Kale is susceptible to mildews, so AM ground level watering if possible. Seeds germinate best at 70 to 75 degrees F! Perfect for fall planting here. Mulch the babies until cooler weather. Since they are doing nothing but producing leaves, give them plenty of Nitrogen! There are so many marvelous varieties! Kale is weird and magnificent! Look at the lacinato/elephant kale, flat leaves. Pretty fringy Red Russians are almost as good as flowers. Curly leaf is simply amazing, like green brains! Red Bor is simply gorgeous. Plant several varieties and enjoy your creatures!
Broccoli is a good calcium source, and a great antioxidant, cancer prevention food source. Plant lettuce with it to deter cabbage moths. Cilantro makes it grow REALLY well, bigger, fuller, greener! There are fun varieties of brocs too, including several with purple heads! Waltham 29 is a standard large head fall variety. The beauty of broccoli is it produces side shoots after you cut off the main head! It keeps right on producing! All summer long if you keep harvesting, otherwise it flowers and eventually stops making babies. I plant a batch for fall, mixed varieties, so they don’t all head at once, and that technique confuses pests! I figure where I want that tall plant in my summer garden because, depending on the variety you choose, they can get over 4′ tall! That needs to be where it won’t shade other plants once it is mature. Once they are in production, feed them occasionally. They are a hard-working big plant.
I choose Chard as a powerful winter plant because, though it will grow through summer, 2, 3 years, it gets stressed and I feel sorry for it. They thrive in winter, like kale. Lots of Nitrogen because they are another leaf crop like kale and lettuce. For our early mid August plantings, start it in a semi shade area. Do label the planting area if you are also planting beets. They are in the same family and look very alike when they start. It’s important to know the difference because beets are considerably shorter with a way smaller footprint. Figure on a 2′ diameter footprint at maturity for your chard, up to 3′ if you plant a Fordhook Giant! A healthy chard will easily be 2′ tall, so again, if you want them to grow through summer, place them so they won’t shade other plants later on. They like lots of water and will grow fast, plenty to eat! High in vitamin A. Lots of brilliant color varieties – Neon, Bright Lights, they make a winter garden come to life!
Peas are the winter legume! And so different from beans, the summer legume, in production! When I first started gardening at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, one of the gardeners said, ‘You can never plant enough peas!’ And, I, a pea lover, found that to be true! Where one bean plant will produce pounds and pounds of beans, it takes several pea plants to get the same results! Plus, they don’t grow as long. So, of course, I plant way more peas, probably about 24 to 1 compared to beans! And I plant successive rounds. When one batch finishes I still have more coming. I’ve seen that some gardeners pop those seeds in the ground, and bingo, they have peas! Others of us just sigh and go get our transplants at the nursery. What it is. I trellis my peas in big cages that I stake well so the winter winds won’t topple them. I baby them, gently push escaping side branches into the cage so they don’t get broken off. They are subject to mildews, so for air flow, I plant fewer in one cage than I used to. Water at ground level in the morning if possible. Peas come in 3 main categories: Snap – eat on the spot, Snow/Chinese – the flat ones – on the spot, in salads or steamed, and English – shelling! It’s fun to grow all three! You can get yellow peas if you order the seeds! Water them frequently (short roots) and they will be so sweet, the dessert of your winter garden!
Winter crops are generally super nutritious! Right when we need that extra energy, there it is. Greens are high in Vitamin A that we need for good eyesight when winter is a bit darker! Perfect.