Your vegetable garden is probably at the height of production now. Peppers are starting to turn red, tomatoes are in abundance, beans are being harvested. But this is also the time to plant some seeds for the fall garden. Some that can still be planted because they can stand up to cooler weather and shorter day time hours are carrots, parsley, cilantro, beets, turnips, spinach, kale, radishes and lettuces. Keep these seeds watered after you plant them to help them survive the hot dry days of August. You can mulch around the seedlings with straw to protect them from the “heaving” of the ground in the winter (“heaving is caused by freeze/thaw cycles in the winter months. To help carrot seeds, with their feathery foliage, break the soil mix the seed with radish seeds and the radish seedlings will create a pathway for the carrot seedlings. Carrots, beets, radishes and kale will even survive frost and their flavor may be improved with the frost.
Another crop to consider planting in the fall is garlic. Garlic bulbs may be ordered now for September planting. There are 2 kinds of garlic to choose from “hard neck” and “soft neck”. Soft neck is the variety that you find in the grocery store but hard neck generally has a deeper flavor.
To plant garlic simply pull the bulbs apart and plant each clove, root side down, about 2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart in rows 12 inches apart. The garlic will sprout and then you can mulch around each plant with straw to keep the plants from heaving during the winter freezes and thaws. In June your garlic will be ready to harvest after about half of the leaves have turned brown. This is a wonderfully easy and rewarding crop to grow. For more information about growing this crop go to: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2906/2906-1347/2906-1347_pdf.pdf