This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
Okay, I admit that one of the last things on my mind is planting a fall crop of veggies. It’s all I can do to keep up with the zucchini and beans and the pumpkins that the missus planted that have grown so much that I can hardly get to the garden to plant anything new, even if I wanted to.
But the reality is that this heat wave we have been experiencing is going to come to an end, the nights are going to start cooling off and the days will continue to get shorter which are all triggers for fall crops to germinate and start growing.
As we harvest our summer crops of onions, garlic, beets, carrots and of course zucchini and beans we will have new space for planting other veggies and it is important to get them in early enough so they can get established before the soils get too cold for root growth.
Late July and early August are the perfect time to sprout cabbage and broccoli and chard and to direct sow any of the root crops like carrots, radishes and beets.
Garden centers will start bringing in packs of lettuce and cabbage and broccoli in early August so if you don’t want to mess with starting seeds the packs are a great way to go.
As always, any time you do a new planting it is essential to amend the soil with compost and enrich it with an organic fertilizer. Remember that whatever you had growing in that space consumed the nutrients in the soil when it was growing and when you harvested it you removed those nutrients with the plant.
EB Stone Flower and Veggie Mix is a fabulous compost to add to the soil because it has been enriched with aged chicken manure, earthworm castings, bat guano, kelp meal and feather meal. It’s the full meal deal in my book and easy to deal with for the small veggie garden.
If you are lucky enough to have a large garden then may I suggest trying Bailey’s compost out in Snohomish or Cedar Grove Compost in Everett. Both of these are an excellent soil amendment and are rich in soil microorganisms, an essential part of a healthy soil.
While the above composts will add some zip to your soil you still need to add some fertilizer. Remember, a compost is mostly a soil amendment designed to help the soil retain moisture, improve drainage and enhance the overall life of the soil.
A fertilizer is a concentrated source of food for the plant to use as it grows. Organic fertilizers are the best because they release slowly which means the plant gets just the right amount of food as it needs it and the rest remains in the soil for later use instead of moving down through the soil and into the water table and ultimately onto the Sound or lake.
As an added bonus, organic fertilizers like E.B. Stone Tomato and Veggie Food have been fortified with soil microorganisms like mycorrhizae which are essential to a healthy soil.
Even if you aren’t into planting a fall garden you should at least consider planting garlic. It is probably the simplest veggie to plant because all you have to do (once you have prepped your soil) is merely break your head of garlic into individual cloves and plant them a couple of inches under the soil, 6 inches apart and forget about them.
For more info on growing fall veggies be sure and come to our class on Saturday, August 1st, at 10 am, where Mary Ann and Andy Sudkamp will regale you with their years of gardening wisdom. In their little lot in Everett they manage to grow veggies year ‘round and you can learn how to do it as well.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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