Overwintering brassicas and leeks newly transplanted under protection of Remay. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Work to be done, even in summer heat

I’m always amazed that my garden doesn’t wither in this blistering sun too

By Mary Lowther

I bet those in southern climes take siestas in the middle of the day because it’s too darn hot to be outside, working. I’m always amazed that my garden doesn’t wither in this blistering sun too, but it keeps churning out the goods so I do what southerners do and tend the garden in the cooler early morning and late evening. Except I don’t work nearly as hard, after all, I’m retired!

There’s still sowing and transplanting to be done now so that we have a harvest throughout the fall, winter and into spring. We can get overwintering and wintering seedlings and cover crops transplanted and sown. Overwintering crops grow until winter cold stops their growth and they go dormant until the following spring when they produce an early crop. Seed packets should say on them if the variety is of this type. Sprouting broccoli, overwintering onions, cabbage and cauliflower seedlings can be transplanted now for a spring harvest, but be prepared for some large sized crops.

Wintering crops can be harvested all winter; some of them do well without protection, but others will need some sort of cover, like a cold frame. Wintering seedlings that can be transplanted now include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celeriac, kale and collards, leeks, parsley and fall harvested broccoli. Other vegetables that can be directly sown as seed without protection include carrots, chervil, chives, kohlrabi, mustard, pac choi, parsley, parsnips, radishes, scallions and turnips. Arugula, cilantro, corn salad, winter lettuce, mesclun and spinach seeds can be sown outside now but will need protection when winter sets in.

I don’t grow all of these vegetables, but this gives an idea of just how much we can get out of our gardens. Winter-tolerant seedlings are available at Dinter Nursery for something like $4.39 a six-pack. If we’ve got the land, we should use it.

When growing winter crops, make sure you rotate the beds so you’re not planting, say, brassicas where summer brassicas grew because ubiquitous club root disease can remain viable in the soil for 20 years and it loves brassicas. The bed that contained brassicas in the summer probably has a nice supply of club root spores just ready to do in your newly planted brassica seedlings as soon as they’re planted. I’ve been rotating my beds for 12 years now and still haven’t eradicated this disease, but at least the brassicas get to harvestable size before club root causes much damage because each bed gets seven years between those tasty crops.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

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