September 2, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.
Jim Childs wrote about some reasons that Barbara Damrosch, author of The Garden Primer, thinks that fall planting is worthwhile. In one of my articles last spring I suggested that you buy extra seed in the spring for fall planting. So if you have extra spinach, lettuce and radish seed, you are in business. For both zone three and zone four, the average day for the first frost is September 15. Since a killing frost is much later there is still a lot of growing time left.
Spinach takes from seven to 14 days to germinate and you harvest in about four weeks. Sow the seeds more thickly for fall planting because the ground may still be warm, which reduces germination. Keep the soil moist and mulch as soon as the seeds are up and growing to keep them healthy and clean. I have a friend who plants spinach at the end of the growing season and they are the first plants to appear come spring.
Leaf lettuce seeds won't germinate if the temperatures are in the eighties, so fall is the best time to eat baby lettuce leaves. The germination time is from one to two weeks and you should be harvesting in a month.
At the Threshing Show we had several questions about radishes. Unless you got them in very early, you probably had a lot of foliage above the ground, but not many radishes that were worth eating. Due to the early spring and hot weather the root maggots had a feast on radishes this year.
Another advantage in planting a fall crop is that root maggot larvae are not active in the fall. The germination time is from four to twelve days and you can be eating fresh radishes in less than a month. By keeping the soil moist your radishes will have a better flavor for fall eating.
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