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Plants for Fall Gardens
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Beetroot, commonly referred to as “beets” are the root part of the beet plant. It’s a delicious plant: most commonly pickled for sandwiches and relish trays, but also the original sweetener for the delicious cocoa red-velvet cake.
Beets are also a great substitute vegetable; add with a few tomatoes to create a lighter tomato soup. Puree and replace the chickpeas in your hummus for a lower calorie, just as delicious version.
These vegetables thrive in zones 6, 7, and 8 in the early spring, but even more so in the fall. Begin planting in the early days of August, staggering for a few weeks to extend your harvest. Sow a row the first week, and another the second, and third, don’t go much further than that, or growing time may be much too short. Harvest at the end of October, and into early November.
Beets are susceptible to Beet webworm, Vegetable weevil, Aphids and jassids. You can identify the damage by the fairly obvious holes developing on the leaves growing above the ground. Monitor this closely, as the damaged leaves can impact the growing strength of the roots.
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Kale, the so called “superfood” of the 21st century, has actually been a staple for salads for decades. Kale is high in fiber, as well as vitamins C and K, vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, and minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. It’s been shown to help with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as reducing the risks and effects of heart disease. It’s best consumed fresh, but is often considered too bitter for most people to “stomach”.
Simply blend a few leaves (sans ribs) into a fruit smoothie to increase the nutritional value, or fry up for a few seconds to create healthy and tasty kale chips. Sprinkle into the hot oil of a stir fry for a few moments before adding them to the meat and sauce combo for a sneaky addition to the meal.
Its growing period makes it a great leafy green for your fall garden. Sow seeds at the end of July and beginning of August, water regularly, and harvest at the end of October well through November. Plant 18 inches apart, or in 12”-18” pots. The leaves will only get as big as the root space allows, don’t be deterred by the smaller leaves: they’re just as delicious as the large ones.
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Garden peas and fall gardens go together like…well two peas in a pod! In horticulture zones 6, 7, and 8 peas have one of the latest growing seasons. Plant in mid-to-late August, and grow and harvest until late in November.
Peas are high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. They’ve got a slightly sweet flavor that lends itself well to savory and spicy dishes. Carrots and peas are the classic standby from childhood everyone remembers. They work both hot in dishes, and cold in salads.
Peas are one of the more easily stored garden vegetables. Once harvested, remove all the peas from their pods and then lay out on a sheet tray in a single layer. Freeze for 1-2 hours just until they’re set. Then move them to a freezer safe container or freezer bag. To add them to salads, just throw them in frozen and let them thaw in the mix, or simply heat them up in a tablespoon of butter in a sauce pan. It won’t take long to have them tasting fresh and making you feisty again.
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The tastiest alternative to lettuce available is undoubtedly spinach. Whether it’s eaten raw like a salad, chopped up and thrown into soup, or stuffed into a chicken breast, it’s a delicious and nutritious vegetable.
Because spinach is rich in water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and a wide variety of phytonutrients it’s an incredibly valuable vegetable to incorporate into any diet, and very easy to incorporate into a variety of meals. Its heartiness and high water content actually makes it a great addition to the Thanksgiving dressing.
Plant indoors late July/early August, and move to your outside garden in September to have harvest lasting up through mid-November.
Spinach is a great plant for a beginner’s garden; it is quick growing, easy to harvest, and a happy plant all around. But there are some things to watch out for: downy mildew, “damping off” disease (which is caused by low quality seeds and overwatering), as well as the usual round of pests: aphids, slugs, snails, cutworms, and flea beetles. Be sure to take care with what pesticides you use, and whether you use an organic or modern method make sure you’re washing the spinach thoroughly before cooking it or putting it in the family salad bowl.
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There are very few vegetables that are as divisive, delicious, and versatile as cauliflower. The general opinion of food is that the more colorful it is, and the deeper that color is, the better it is for you. And while that is true, it is not actually a fair representation of the cauliflower. It is either a horrifying or disgusting concept, or a marvel of the horticulture world.
Cauliflower is actually a “superfood”, comparable to kale. It’s one of the top 20 foods as ranked by the ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index). It’s high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc. It is being used rapidly as a replacement medium for other “white foods”, like rice, and mashed potatoes. Ricing your own cauliflower just requires a food processor and a clean tea-towel, and most people can’t even tell the difference!
Planting is simple, simply start indoors mid-to-late July from seeds, and move into the garden bed late August to early September. Harvest time for this batch should be mid-to-late November. Cauliflower is susceptible to aphids, cabbage worms, and slugs/snails especially. Cabbage worms are tricky to identify as they’re green in color and like to hide on the underside of the leaves.