JoAnne Skelly: Fall is on its way, but many things can still be planted
Gardeners often wonder what veggies can be planted in September. The answer depends on the weather, which of course we can’t predict. The average first frost date is Sept. 21. To be successful with a late-summer planting for a fall harvest, plant seeds with very short dates to maturity or buy vegetable starts at nurseries. Also, be prepared to cover crops with row covers, mulch, straw, paper bags, containers or something to protect the plants when the freeze does happen. If you have a hoop house or low tunnels, you may be able to grow all winter, depending on where you live.
The fastest crop is probably radish, which can mature in as little as 21 days. Bunching onions, regular onions and garlic do best if planted in the fall and need very little care through the winter for a spring harvest. Another way to approach planning a fall harvest is to eat crops at a younger stage such as early lettuces, baby radish leaves and tiny radishes, young spinach, etc.
I checked Johnny’s Seeds online to see what varieties they had that matured quickly. Other seed companies and our local nurseries will have good seed selections too.
Kale is cool season-dependable. Red Russian can be picked for baby greens at 25 days with 50 days to maturity. Starbor and Ripbor can be harvested at 55 days. Toscana, an Italian variety, is edible at 30 days for baby greens and 65 for mature leaves. It is said to be cold-tolerant.
Spinach is a good cool-season choice. Carmel, Raccoon or Red Kitten can be eaten in 23 to 25 days for baby leaves and 34 to 36 days for mature leaves. Collards are another option.
Beets are good for cool-season growing because they get sweeter in the cold. Besides, they come in so many beautiful colors and the greens are edible, too. Red Ace is easy to grow, with a crop in 50 days. Merlin takes only 48 days. If you plant Early Wonder Tall Top, you can eat the leaves in 35 days and roots in 55.
Explore carrots, turnips, parsnips or rutabagas. Whatever veggies you might plant, be sure to watch the weather and be ready to cover your plants if a cold night is forecast.
JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.