by Charlene Burgi
The first half of August is already behind us. Where has this summer gone? Can you believe it is already time to start the winter garden?
These thoughts flashed through my head as I glanced at the calendar. Often the time to plant winter veggies escapes my attention until it is too late. Do you have the same challenge? If so, let this be your reminder to get started on planning and planting.
The most successful gardens come from a good plan. For example, even vegetables that normally thrive in winter will suffer if deprived of needed light. Winter sunlight varies from summer sunlight, so your plan should take into account which parts of the garden receive the winter sun.
Plan for companion gardening. Beets and onions are the magic combination for my friend. Her beets continued to fail until she mixed the two together. Winter can make companion planting a bit trickier as not all vegetables will grow during that season. Find winter crops that will help each other reach their maximum capabilities.
Besides where and what to plant, good planning also includes when
. Seeds that germinate in warm soil (70 degrees) and grow during winter months should go into the ground now while the soil is meeting the seeds’ optimum germination requirements. Seeds for direct planting at this time include kale, dwarf peas and leeks.
If you find yourself starting the garden after soil temperature has diminished, all is not lost. Start your seeds in trays and place them in a warm window or atop a planting heat mat. Transfer them outdoors when they are of transplantable size. Those seeds include all types of lettuce, parsley, spinach and chard.
Some of these vegetables will grow throughout the winter months. Last winter I was shocked to see the Italian parsley poking its leaves through the winter snowfall here in Lassen. Swiss chard is another hardy survivor, as are spinach and garlic.
| Mystery squash or melon
And speaking of garlic, order your cloves of choice this month for September planting. They will be ready to harvest in the late spring.
Lastly, if you are saving seeds from this year's vegetable garden, be diligent about labeling with an indelible ink pen before storing. I have amazing mystery squash plants—or could they be melons?—growing profusely in the garden this year. The mystery still remains as to what fruit they will bear. Whatever the crop, there will be a ton of it if it beats the snow here in Lassen.