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8 vegetables to plant now for fall harvest

Jon Lovette/Getty Images Lettuce growing in garden
DOUBLE-CROPPED VEGETABLES: Do you wish you had planted more beets or onions? Would you like fresh lettuce to harvest into fall? Then consider working up areas of your garden that have already been harvested and plant a second crop of vegetables.
Extend your garden’s growing season by double-cropping.

Like farmers who double-crop soybeans after harvesting peas or fall-seed alfalfa after harvesting wheat, gardeners can do the same and grow a second crop of vegetables for fall harvest. Usually by now, spring-planted vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, peas, cabbage and radishes have all been harvested.

If you’ve harvested your summer crops already, clear out any plant debris to keep new plants healthy. Then work in some compost or fertilizer and keep growing!

Here are eight vegetables to plant in your garden after harvesting spring and summer vegetables:

1. Lettuce. Since lettuce tends to bolt in hot weather, starting these seeds now for harvest in September (or even later) will result in a healthier harvest. Plus, there will be fewer insects to eat leaves. Plant mesclun mixes, bibb or other leafy varieties like black seeded Simpson. They grow more quickly, and you can sow successively every two or three weeks for a constant harvest.

If you are short on space in your garden, seed lettuce in large flowerpots on your patio or deck.

2. Peas. Peas don’t thrive in summer’s heat, so planting them now will give you healthier plants and a heartier yield. They grow and mature rapidly, so you’re sure to have at least one harvest, and likely several, by the end of October.

3. Onions. Most onions grow well in cooler weather, but green onions, in particular, are well-suited to an autumn vegetable garden. That’s because they grow quickly, so you can harvest a crop even if you plant them in August. If you have leftover onion sets from this spring, plant them now to extend your onion crop for a few more months.

4. Radishes. If you’re searching for a crop that grows quickly, look no further. Radishes can reach maturity in just a few weeks. Sow directly into loose, well-drained soil. They’re also sweeter when picked young. If left in the soil for too long, radishes can get woody and lose their flavor.

5. Spinach. I like to mix young spinach leaves into a garden salad. If you plant spinach now and do successive plantings every couple of weeks, you can harvest the baby leaves as soon as they’re a couple of inches long.

6. Swiss chard. I like to cook Swiss chard like most people cook spinach. I prefer to eat Swiss chard like most people eat spinach. I boil Swiss chard in hot water until the leaves are soft. I drain the water, add a little butter and salt, and enjoy! It’s a versatile crop. Baby Swiss chard leaves can also be mixed into a garden salad.

7. Carrots. Plant some carrot seeds now and you will be harvesting carrots in as few as 55 to 60 days, well before the first expected frost date.

8. Beets. Delicious red beets beet take 50 to 60 days to mature, and they actually get sweeter and crunchier as the weather gets cooler. Like carrots, they need to be sown directly into loose, well-drained soil.

Comments? Email fran.oleary@farmprogress.com.

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