"}
Food

A Midsummer Sowing

Thinking ahead to the flavors of fall

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

If you’ve been a diligent gardener this year, chances are the rewards are starting to add up.

With a big, juicy garden finally in cruise mode, now might not be the time you want to ponder starting over, but this is exactly what you must do in order to stay ahead of the seasonal curve. Your strong, beautiful plants will start to fade at the end of summer, and when they do you’ll want to have reinforcements in place—plants that can tough it out through the fall, and perhaps into winter.

Specifically, you can look forward to the likes of greens, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and peas. Choose seeds for plants that have a chance of surviving past a hard freeze, and have a relatively short number of days until maturity. And as you prepare to plant them, think about how you’re going to keep these plants warm when the days get cold.

One strategy is to cover the chilly crops with a floating row cover, which is a lightweight white cloth that is often called “reme,” which functions as a blanket when laid over plants. Or you can plan to build a hoop house around them. Alternatively, stick to crops, such as carrots or kale, that grow sweeter after a frost. Some, like spinach, can produce through the winter in the right climate if properly insulated.

Peruse your garden and choose appropriate places for your fall planting, taking into consideration where the sun’s path will be as it starts hanging out in the southern end of the sky. You can also consider other features, like brick walls or the south-facing side of the house, which will absorb heat by day and release it by night.

As you contemplate where to put your fall crops, create space by removing the plants that have already died, like the spring peas, or have gone to seed, like lettuce, cilantro and spinach. The gaps created by this cleanup are good places to plant your fall crops. Another good spot is the garlic patch, if you have one. The garlic will have been harvested by now, leaving a large blank spot in your garden to be filled in by cold-tolerant fall crops.

Dig up the soil, pull the weeds, and if the sun is really intense, shade the ground for a few days to let it cool off before planting. Mix in compost if you’ve got it, and generally make a hospitable spot for a midsummer’s planting.

As in spring, the summer planter has a choice between starting seeds indoors in pots, or sowing them directly into the dirt. Starting plants indoors is more of a necessity in spring, in order to get the plants growing without exposing them to damaging cold. But summer is a tricky time to grow starts in a greenhouse, for you or your plants. Growing plants indoors during the summer heat is a job that’s best left to the professionals, as young plants in small pots without much soil will dry out and die in the blink of an eye.

Transplanting seedlings into the hot ground can be very stressful for the young plants. If you go this route, do it by evening, and water them in well. That way they will have all night to recover, and come to equilibrium in their new home. After that, water them morning, noon and night for about a week to help with the adjustment. Because of the hazards of transplanting, I prefer planting seeds directly into the garden.

Every region of the country has a different set of possibilities for a fall garden, determined largely by the first frost date of fall. So the fall gardener must figure out when that first frost date generally is, and consult the seed package to determine how many days until maturity, and then do a little math. Sow your seeds, and cover with some kind of mulch, like compost. This will help keep the little plants cool and moist. Then add water. Lots of it.

And don’t forget to water yourself while you’re at it. I recommend iced tea. After the fall seeds are planted, you can add a little something stronger to the drink, and get back to the business of enjoying your bountiful, diversified, cold-hardy garden.

SVCR Don McLean
More Food...
Where's the Beef?
A stroganoff surprise

During a recent cold spell, my boyfriend expressed the desire to consume grilled steak.

“I don’t care if it’s 25 degrees outside, I’m going to fire up that damned barbecue and make us a dinner fit for royalty,” he declared, slapping an enormous package of tenderloin onto the kitchen…

more »
Necessary Chocolate
Making a sweet connection

This is the time of year when we eat even more chocolate than usual. The winter season sets the tone for hot cocoa consumption, and Americans consume 58 million pounds of its bittersweet darkness on and around Valentine’s Day—about 5 percent of U.S. annual chocolate consumption.

Credit…

more »
Shirlee Bird Cafe
A friendly face in Fairhaven

If you drew a line from the time Shirlee Jones first moved to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University in 2000 to when she opened the small-but-mighty Shirlee Bird Cafe in Fairhaven’s Sycamore Square Building in August of 2015, it would veer off wildly before coming full circle.…

more »
Events
Today
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Orchid Show and Sale

9:00am|Skagit Valley Gardens

Sedro-Woolley Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Kevin Ranker completes his sermon

1:00pm

Positive Blues

2:00pm|Nancy's Farm

Mock and Maher

3:00pm|Deming Library

Tartarus

4:00pm|Village Books

IGN Cascadia Bellingham Technical College
Tomorrow
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Winter Camping Basics

6:00pm|REI

Cuban Salsa

6:00pm|Bell Tower Studios

Bite of Blaine

6:00pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Pizza Party

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Rock & Gem Club Meeting

7:00pm|Bloedel Donovan Community Center

Rock and Gem Club Meeting

7:00pm|Bloedel Donovan Community Center

Swing Dance

8:00pm|Eagles Hall

Guffawingham

9:30pm|Green Frog

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tuesday
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting

8:30am|Bellingham Technical College

Community Preparedness

2:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Baker Backcountry Basics

6:00pm|REI

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Putting the kick in cross-country

6:00pm

Dressings, Sauces and Stocks

6:30pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Prawn Particulars

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Tides

7:00pm|Village Books

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

see our complete calendar »

IGN Cascadia Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Northwood Steak and Crab Trove Bellingham Farmer’s Market Bellingham Technical College