How I Intend to Have my Kale and Eat it Too

I want it all.  I’m not ashamed to admit that.  I want the sweet taste of fruit in the winter, and I love the crunch of crisp greens when the earth is soggy and the sky is gray.

The last two weeks have been consumed with various methods of preparing and canning apricots, so the sweet taste of local fruit in the winter can be checked off my list.  But what to do about my need for crunchy, nutrient rich greens?

Pete Rasmussen, from Sandhill Farms, had all the answers at the WCG Fall Planting Workshop this weekend.

Fall is the perfect time for working in the garden.  It’s cooler, the days are beautiful, and – as it turns out – there are many plants that thrive in Utah’s fall.  With a little work and creativity, it’s possible to create microclimates within the garden and produce yummies year-round in the Salt Lake Valley.

  • Starting today, and going through August, start thinking about your fall layout and begin prepping.
  • Clean out your beds, remove bolted lettuce, dried up peas, anything that has passed its prime.
  • Add compost, either from your own compost pile, or pick up some organic Oakdell compost at IFA.
  • Give the area a light watering daily for 2-3 days.  Wait 2 weeks.
  • Plant Arugula, Spring Mix Lettuce, Beets, Bok Choy, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Radishes, Turnips, Carrots, etc.

At Sandhill Farms, rumor has it that when evening temperatures reach 41º and below, the sugar content of Kale triples.  “It’s like candy,” insists Pete.

The trick to a good fall harvest is, of course, soil preparation, and getting your plants in before September 15th.  The young’ins need time to mature before the stresses of fall hit.

Those are the basics.

The workshop was loaded with lots of terrific information on extending the growing season – even through winter – with floating row covers and hoop houses.  Pete also gave a quick, yet thorough, run down on organically improving soil fertility with cover crops, and of course, the marvels of garlic.  Pete can’t help but talk garlic!

Garlic is something I’ve never even thought about planting.  Now, thanks to Pete’s tips and enthusiasm, I’m convinced I can’t have a complete garden without garlic.

WCG and Pete are providing another workshop exclusively on garlic planting and growing August 28th.  Come by, catch Pete’s contagious love for all things garlic and gardening, and pick up some absolutely fabulous garlic seed.  Seriously.  You don’t want to miss it.

I suppose the king of all reasons to extend my growing season is because, as Pete said, “it feels good for the soul to garden and have your hands in the earth.”  My soul wants to feel good in all four seasons – not just late spring and summer.

Do you have any Fall Planting tips?

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