August 2011 JSS Advantage Newsletter
August can be a busy month. Summer crops are at their peak and fall crops need attention. It's time to look ahead to fall and winter markets. Yet, it may still be so hot you just don't want to do anything! In this issue of the JSS Advantage, we'll suggest some practical ideas and, we hope, provide some encouragement to keep you going.
Grow Some Quick Fall Crops for Winter Markets
In most of the United States, mid-summer is the time to schedule fall crops, including those you will harvest this fall and winter and those you will plant in fall for early spring harvest.
Looking at the calendar, you may realize there's not much time left until your first frost. But if you act fast, you can still get a good harvest of field crops in the next 30-60 days. You will need to pay extra attention to seeds and seedlings to prevent them from perishing in the heat, but once you get them established, they will thrive as the weather cools off.
Johnny's Fall Planting Calculator is a great tool to determine the dates crops need to be planted outside without season extension products. If you are going to grow in hoophouses, Quick Hoops or even under row cover, your planting dates can be later than the calculator advises. High and low tunnels constructed with our Quick Hoops™ Benders allow you to extend the growing season for cold-hardy crops with a very late season harvest or overwintering for early spring harvest. Best of all, they are on sale this month!
Recommended fall crop varieties
Basil: For authentic basil flavor in a more compact plant, try Genovese Compact, Improved (#2922). It is a preferred variety for greenhouses. Aroma 2 (#2946G) with its fusarium resistance is a good choice for the greenhouse as well. For something different, try our smallest basil, Pistou (#2742). This fine leaf or Greek basil takes just 30 days to reach maturity.
Beets: All varieties are good for fall planting, maturing in 45-55 days (longer in fall because of decreasing day length). Beet greens are delicious, though somewhat acidic, additions to a salad, so save the thinnings and use the tops after harvest.
Cabbage: Farao (#2110G) is a delicious, early cabbage maturing in 64 days. Gonzales (#2907), a round mini cabbage, was the earliest to mature (66 days) in our close-spacing trials. For mini cabbage, space the plants 8-12" in row, 12-18" between rows. Alcosa Savoy (#2985) is cold-tolerant and matures in 72 days, making it a good choice for hoophouses.
Carrots: Napoli is the best variety for fall and winter harvest. Organic seed (#209G), organic seed with pelleting approved for organic production (#209GP), raw seed (#209), and raw seed with conventional pelleting (#209P) are all available.
Greens: Vit (#419) mache is an ideal winter salad item, maturing in 50 days. It is a versatile, vigorous, mildew-resistant variety. Claytonia (#388) is one of the hardiest of the winter salad greens. It can tolerate moderate frost and can be grown all winter in mild regions or in cold greenhouses. Matures in 40 days.
Kale and Collards: All are cold-tolerant and will survive light frosts.
Lettuce: For baby lettuce and salad mix, most any variety will produce in fall. Five Star Greenhouse Lettuce Mix (#192), a blend of downy mildew resistant varieties, is especially good for fall when the DM pressure is greatest. For full size heads, choose cold-tolerant varieties such as Black Seeded Simpson and Winter Density.
Radishes: Grow a variety of colors and shapes, and succession plant every week until 45 days before hard frost.
Spinach: Tyee is the professional growers' favorite for fall crops and overwintering. Organic seed (#646G), non-organic seed (#646), and organic seed with Natural II Treatment (#646BG) are all available.
Swiss Chard: Quick to grow for baby bunches and salad mix; be ready to protect from frost for full-size bunches.