Have you ever wondered the best way to plant and harvest vegetables in late summer and early fall? Luckily, there are many options to choose from! Even in Canada, many vegetables can still produce a harvest when planted in July or August.
Here in Saskatchewan, the summers are comfortable and warm, while the winters can get extremely cold. Even though the warmer season lasts around 4 months, the growing season in Saskatchewan can last from May to September.
If you’re looking to spend some time outside and get in touch with nature or just impress your friends and family with a home-grown meal, this article can help! Below are some key tips and tricks that will help you keep your garden growing even as Winter approaches.
Consider Harvesting Timelines
When you’re deciding which vegetables to plant, try to consider how long the plants will take to grow harvestable crops.
For example, if you’re planting in July, try to choose a vegetable that you can harvest in 50 days or less. Or, if you decide to plant in August, plant something that is harvestable in less than 30 days.
Making note of harvesting timelines is important in both the Spring and Fall seasons and will help you plan a garden that will produce food throughout the growing season!
Start Planting in Seedling Trays
To get a head start on your garden, it can be a good idea to start your plants in seedling trays. Every one to two weeks, you can plant new seeds in a tray and rotate them into the garden as you harvest older plants. This can help ensure that you have access to a healthy harvest all Summer and Fall!
Intercrop Before You Harvest
Many crops that are sown in Spring will be ready for their final harvest in mid-Sumer. This includes plants like garlic, potatoes, beets, radishes, and turnips. About a month before harvesting these plants, you can sow new crops in your garden!
The adult plants will protect the seedlings as they begin to grow, which will help your garden thrive! This long-used practice is called intercropping.
After harvesting your first crop, leave the new, intercropped seedlings in place so they can continue to grow. You can continue this process throughout the entire growing season up until the first frost of the year.
Additionally, you can also seed new crops between taller vegetable plants like tomatoes which will help fill spaces that weeds would otherwise take up.
Which Plants to Plant
How do you choose which vegetables to plant in the fall? To help you decide, we’ve put together a list of some of the best fall crops available and even included some tips on how to get the best results for your harvest!
Radishes don’t always store well long-term, so it is important to cultivate a continuous supply. Radishes have a convenient 30-day harvest timeline, so they are a great option if you want to fit in one or two more yields at the end of the season.
For even better results, consider intercropping your radish seeds with plants that have nearly run their course. Once the older crop is harvested, the radishes will already be well on their way.
Shelter from larger plants will also help with germination and increase the ambient humidity around your seedlings.
If you are planting in July, leafy greens are an excellent option! These vegetables can include everything from arugula to purple lettuce. Leafy greens will germinate well in the heat and continue to grow and thrive despite hot temperatures.
However, it’s important to note that this does not include heads of lettuce, which grow best indoors in the Spring, and need around 60 days to mature.
Asian greens are often used in stir-fries and keep well in the freezer. Common examples of Asian greens that grow well in Canadian climates include:
- Amaranth greens
- Bok choy
- Chinese broccoli
- Chinese celery
- Gai choy
- Napa cabbage
- Pea shoots
- Water spinach
- Yau choy
These vegetable plants can be planted directly in the soil, or they can be planted in seedling trays and transferred outside later. Asian greens do best in mid-level heat and partial shade. Their turnaround time is quick, and they can even be planted in late August!
Spinach, Kale, and Swiss Chard
These plants are resilient and can survive even if they are left uncovered during the first couple frosts of the year! In fact, kale will lose some of its bitterness in colder temperatures or after living through a frost. If you use a low tunnel or a cold frame, you can extend your harvest season into October.
These hearty plants can be intercropped with garlic stands or they can be started in trays and transferred outside. If you want to enjoy cooking with these plants well into the fall season, simply harvest leaves from the bottom of the plant first and work your way to the top!
Turnips, Beets, Kohlrabi and Carrots
Classic root vegetables like these are quick to harvest. When it comes to beets, carrots, and turnips, this is especially true! Since the heaviest part of these plants is located in the soil, the crop can survive colder conditions.
Planting seeds in warm soil in July will help give the plant a head start by ensuring a quicker germination rate.
If you want to thin your crops without sacrificing seeds, you can start these plants in trays and then transfer them to your garden at a later time.
When it comes to planting and growing potatoes, you have to consider what your goals are before fall planting. If you want to harvest as many potatoes as possible, then it’s important to choose kinds of potatoes with shorter days harvesting seasons.
Classic Russets or Yukon varieties are an excellent choice for this reason.
You may not be getting big potatoes with this method, but you will likely end up with many mini potatoes. These vegetables are extremely durable and can grow up until the first frost, as the edible portion of the plant is completely covered and protected by soil.
When in doubt, it's usually a good idea to cover your soil before winter hits. Uncultivated soil will slowly lose microbe activity and is prone to erosion.
This can lead to a loss in nutrients in your soil and even grading issues in the future. To avoid these problems, plant a cover crop once you’ve finished your last harvest.
There is a wide range of potential cover crops, including winter wheat, rye, and various legumes. These seeds are inexpensive and can often be purchased in bulk. All you have to do is spread the seeds on the soil’s surface, water as normal, and let mother nature do the rest!
Just be sure the cover crop you choose isn’t an invasive species as that can negatively affect local flora and fauna.
Whether you’re looking for a new hobby or just want to enhance your quality of life, gardening can be a great pastime, even late in the growing season.
At Leenan Homes, we know how important it is to feel at peace in your home – and your garden. If you want to make your dream home a reality - reach out to us today! Our team of experts is ready to help you remodel your home or help you plan a new build that will meet all of your needs!