Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
October, 2011
Regional Report

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Lots of salad greens ready to be eaten!

Time Vegetable Plantings with Your Harvests

Low desert gardeners are thrilled that this year's long, hot, and exceptionally dusty summer is over, and we can dig into our cool growing season. This is my favorite time for veggie gardening, with the next seven months of reasonable temperatures allowing for a deliciously lengthy harvest season.

Before planting veggies, consider how you plan on using the crops that you grow. If you like to harvest and eat fresh from the garden over as long a season as possible, sow small amounts of your favorites every two to three weeks to ensure an ongoing crop. This is called succession sowing. It is a simple method for providing an unending supply of tender salad greens and sweet baby root crops such as carrots or parsnips without being inundated with 50 pounds of beets or dozens of cabbage heads.

On the other hand, if you know you will be hosting a houseful of hungry college athletes for a couple weeks, 50 pounds of anything may not be enough! The idea is to take a few moments to think about how you will use the veggies in your garden and plant accordingly. It will save time and reduce waste.

If you plan to preserve or can a particular crop, it makes sense to sow it all at once so that the majority of the harvest will mature and be ready for picking and processing in the same time frame. Also, if you plan on trying more than one variety of a specific vegetable for preserving, you might want to choose varieties that mature within the same time frame so that everything is ready for canning day. On the other hand, you might choose to spread the labor over a period of time, in which case, try varieties with different days to maturity.

Cool Season Vegetables
Sow seeds for root crops such as beets, carrots, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, radishes, and turnips. Sow all types of salad greens such as collards, endive, leaf lettuce, mustard, spinach, Swiss chard, and tatsoi. Sow or transplant cole crops such as bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and kale. Peas are also a cool-season veggie.

Finally, if the end of summer's heat sent you into a delirious frenzy of planting and your garden overflows with more bounty than you can handle, there is always someone who would be delighted to receive a fresh donation of healthy produce. Check with neighbors, senior centers, or food banks.

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