In late summer and early September, when the outdoor markets and home gardens are bursting with tomatoes, peppers, and melons, it can make you forget that autumn and early winter can also be as fruitful as the spring and summer seasons. You can have a second season of growth, providing you choose appropriate crops, enriched soil, and provide adequate water. You can replace your lettuces, peas, and brassicas (broccoli and all of its relatives) with new plantings that will take off quickly in a soil that has been warmed by the summer’s sun, while the cooler nights will be appreciated.
Lower temperatures will produce crisp lettuces without bolting. Kale, Brussel sprouts, and cabbages will be sweeter while the carrots, beets, and turnips will also thrive. Greens and root vegetables are the stars of the second planting, so zero in on hardy fall varieties of spinach, lettuces, arugula, and chard for greens. Beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, and rutabagas will be your root veggies. Pick your favorite and go for it.
You can extend your fall harvest by shielding plants from hard freezes. Use the simple method of blanketing low-growing plants with a thick layer of straw or leaves (pull to side during the day) or by using a clear plastic tarp or a floating row cover. Going one step further, you can make or purchase a simple cold frame and use a birdbath heater to warm it. You will begin to see that your garden’s useful time is not over at the end of the summer.
In addition to your vegetable garden, most home gardeners look at the fall as a time to plant more flower bulbs. In that spirit, the September meeting of the Garden Club R.F.D. hosted Hans Langeveld, co-owner of Longfield Gardens in Lakewood, who presented a program centering on bulbs grown in Holland.
The October 18 meeting of Garden Club R.F.D. will take place at the Middletown Arts Center at 10:30 a.m. The program is open to the public and will be presented by Steve Barlow III, owner of Barlow’s Garden Center in Sea Girt. The topic is Gardening 101 and will cover how to divide perennials, designing, planting, and insect and disease prevention. Join them for this interesting meeting.
Meet the members who live in Middletown and the surrounding communities of Holmdel, Monroe, Highlands, Red Bank, Freehold, Tinton Falls, and Rumson. Meetings cover various aspects of gardening as well as flower design. Contact membership chair, Nancy Canada, at (973) 452-4846, to learn more about the program and about Garden Club R.F.D. Also, check out their Facebook page, “Garden Club RFD,” where you can view Steve Barlow demonstrating some techniques for the garden.