It’s mid-August already, but there’s still time to sow a number of different vegetables for a winter harvest. If you’re growing your own food for your family or for market, you’ll want to take advantage of the remaining season and get these crops in the ground right away. If you haven’t tried it yet, seize the opportunity and overwinter a bed of vegetables for fresh harvesting all winter. If I can do it, you certainly can!
Aside from temperature, the most important thing to consider when planning your winter garden is day-length. Most plants need at least 10 hours of daylight for active growth to occur. Eliot Coleman dubbed this the “Persephone Days” after the Greek vegetation goddess.
The key is to schedule your plantings so that your crops will be 75% mature by the time the Persephone Period begins. Your day-length will vary depending on where you are, so the point at which your Persephone Period begins will likely be different from mine.
Note: To determine your own Persephone Period check out Johnny’s Winter Growing Guide, where they walk you through how to figure it all out.
First you have to decide where you’re going to put these crops. Are they for harvesting throughout the winter? Or are you trying to overwinter them for an early spring harvest? Do you now have empty beds where your spring crops formerly sat? Which beds could be freed up? and which ones will be available once the summer crops have been harvested?
Think about how you’ll protect them from the cold. Do you have a high-tunnel or hoop-house, or are you using low-tunnels? Do you have all the supplies you’ll need? You don’t want to be scrambling for row-cover in the event of an unexpected frost-warning; take advantage of the fall season-extension sale going on right now at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
If you don’t have a high-tunnel or hoop-house, the low-tunnels are a super easy and affordable option for gardeners and commercial growers. Learn more about using Agribon in the Garden in this article I wrote!
9 crops you can sow mid-August
Now you’re gung-ho to grow! Boo-yeah! But what can you plant this late in the season?
Quite a lot as it turns out.
- Broccoli raab (this is a little different from your typical heading broccoli)
- GREENS: spinach, pac choi, mache, lettuces, mustards, etc.
I can’t get fall transplants in my area because most folks still garden primarily through the summer around here. If I had started these myself back in July I could have put them in, but by mid-August it’s just too late to try growing these crops from seed. However if you can get them where you are, or if you know a local farmer who grows fall transplants you should totally jump on that and get these crops in the ground. Often people have less trouble with them in the fall because the pest pressure is all but gone and these plants really do like the cool temperatures.
- BRASSICAS: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (brussel sprouts have a 110 day maturity, so even from a transplant there’s just not time to produce a crop).
Just sow it!
At this point in the season we’re beginning to get worn out, tired from long days toiling in the sun and late evenings in the kitchen preserving the harvest. Yet I know that if you make the effort to get these crops in─come January when you’re harvesting fresh greens for salad or a side of fresh steamed greens─you’ll be glad you did.
Whatever the reason for growing your own food─whether it’s to save money, eat better (as in fewer preservatives, less sugar, less salt, and to avoid cancer-causing pesticides), or to promote a more sustainable food system─you can extend your growing season to extend into the fall and even through the winter with a little strategic planning, and some initiative. So get out there and get those seeds in the ground!
Have you tried growing for winter harvest? Share your insights with us! Leave a comment below; together we can grow better!