Keep Bounty Coming in Fall

Lori Eanes    Birgitt Evans demonstrates the delicate work of transplanting fall crops from the six packs where they germinate into larger containers or garden beds.

It’s August. The weather is warm and the kids are playing in the pool. So that makes this the perfect time to think about the fall garden, right? Right! In order to take advantage of the long growing season in Alameda, this is the time to plant seeds either directly in the garden or in flats for September transplant to ensure harvests late into the fall.

What can be planted in the fall and winter garden? Pretty much everything except for fruiting crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini. Everything else will grow well in cooler temperatures, especially as pests such as cabbage butterflies and aphids die off in November. 

Root crops, including carrots, turnips and beets, should be direct sown from seed in the garden since they do not transplant well or at all. Clean up plant debris and add 1 or 2 inches of compost and a balanced organic vegetable fertilizer to the soil. Follow package directions for depth and spacing of the seeds. Water well since seeds and young plants need even moisture. 

Brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, gai lan, komatsuna and bok choy do well started in six-packs in a semi-shaded spot where you will remember to water them and where they will not be eaten by snails. 

When the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, transplant into garden beds prepared in the manner described above. White cabbage butterflies are prevalent in the summer and their caterpillars can devastate young seedlings, so use a floating row cover or double layer of bird netting to keep the butterflies off the plants. 

Swiss chard and spinach are also best planted in the fall and winter garden since the leafminer flies, whose larvae create tunnels in the leaves, die off in the fall. Leeks are another crop to start now in containers for transplant and they will provide alliums into the winter.

Finally, there are the glorious peas — shelling, snow and sugar snap — each with its own culinary use. Plant a large container now and keep it in part shade and keep planting (in containers or the ground) every two weeks through to November for enough peas to fill pot pies and stir fries all fall and winter.

With a little planning and succession planting, the Alameda gardener can eat well from the garden all year long.

Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) is a network of gardeners in Alameda interested in growing food and donating fresh produce to neighbors who face food insecurity. Find the schedule for ABG’s monthly education meetings at www.
alamedabackyardgrowers.com. 

ABG’s Project Pick is always looking for fruit trees to pick and volunteers to pick them so more fresh fruit can be delivered to the Alameda Food Bank. To sign up, email info@alamedabackyardgrowers.org or leave a message at 239-7485.