Fall Garden Planning

Lemon Queen SunflowerHi friends! Hope your week has been beyond wonderful 🙂  While many of you may be gearing up for the holiday weekend, hubby and I have been working on repair projects around the house and putting together our fall planting plan. Yup… it’s that time again. Actually, some folks here in the Las Vegas area are already planting their fall veggies.

In my garden, I like to plant my fall crops in mid to late September for a number of reasons.

1) It’s still pretty hot outside right now and I want to be able to give my baby plants the “best” start possible in the garden. Planting when it’s still too hot for cool weather crops can really stress them out and impact their growth and future yields. I’ll be starting some seeds indoors this weekend using my soil block maker. I really do love this tool.

2) At the end of summer, I like to do soil testing and amend my beds based on the test results for optimum nutrition (a.k.a. growing high brix/nutrient dense).

3) My plan usually involves a staggered approach. I’ll start with one bed by removing all of the plant material, add the required amendments then let it rest for a week or so. After planting it out, I’ll start the process on another raised bed and so on. Sometimes the process isn’t as clean-cut as this, but I rarely do a big haul and remove everything at once.

3) This time of year, there are still so many great summer veggies growing in my garden. Most of my veggie plants have gotten their second wind for the season and I really like to wait a little longer to harvest all of my summer rewards… like buckets full of pepperoncini peppers, cayenne peppers, butternut squash, Zatta melons, tomatoes, poha berries, and a variety of summer squash and eggplants. To rip out all of my summer veggie plants would mean losing pounds and pounds of great healthy produce. As long as I have plenty of food growing in my garden I’ll continue to let it grow.

4) I use frost protection on my raised beds in late fall and through winter which helps out tremendously with my delayed fall planting. This gives my plants a chance to grow and I can harvest later in the season and throughout the winter months. This approach has really worked out well for me. No need to feel rushed.

5) To minimize pest problems. This is especially true for this year since we had those nasty Bragada Bugs earlier on. They’ve been MIA in my garden for the past month or so (a really good thing), but I plan on planting several veggies in the brassica family (broccoli, kale, mustard, etc.) and the temps are still perfect for their re-emergence so my fall garden will definitely benefit from a later start.

Planning

Seeds

I typically start my fall planting plan process in early August. First I’ll take quick stock of what I have on hand then, hubby and I spread out the seed catalogs and scour through its content to see if there’s anything new we’d like to grow in the upcoming season.

There are a small handful of seed companies that I like to order seeds from, but I’ve chosen only two catalogs to order my Fall seeds from this year. My favs for fall are…

Baker Creek Seed CompanyBaker Creek Heirloom Seeds ~ To date most of my seeds I’ve ordered have come from this awesome company. I love the fact that this seed company offers some very unique varieties of heirloom seeds. They’ve also signed the Safe Seed Pledge, a public declaration of their policy to “steer clear” of genetically engineered seeds or plants. This is extremely important to me and I make it a point to only purchase seeds from companies who have taken this pledge.

As a company, they have a great selection and their catalog is by far the absolute best when it comes to photos. It’s a very beautiful catalog that’s sure to please just about anyone who grows their own fruits and veggies.

Their online ordering process is very easy to use and their seeds are always neatly packaged with a small thank you ~ a free seed packet. Some of my fav veggies to grow have come from their chosen free selection for me 🙂 They also get a huge +++ for their shipping costs. The best I’ve ever found ~ $3.50 an order.

Bountiful GardensBountiful Gardens ~ This is the first time I’ve ordered from this company and I do have to say that I’m impressed. I also just recently discovered that this catalog is a project of the Ecology Action organization. A company that is dedicated to biointensive growing practices and teaching their methods around the world. Unfamiliar with biointensive growing? Be sure to check out their website and John Jeavons’ book How To Grow More Vegetables.

Their online ordering process was very easy to use and they’ve also signed the Safe Seed Pledge. Their shipping costs are a bit more expensive but still reasonable. Their catalog does carry a wide selection of heirloom quality veggie seeds with some planting information. What I’m most impressed with is how quickly I received my order. I opted for the least expensive shipping option and still received it within only a few days. The packaging was nicely put together with a nice note about recycling/reusing the shipping materials 🙂

At this point I have not planted the seeds yet, so I’ll have to let you know how the seeds do. I’m expecting quality.

The Plan

Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for even a short while you’ll know that I’m a planner. A big time planner at that. I personally find it challenging to plant things willy nilly in the garden because I like to maximize my growing space the best I can. I am, however, always impressed with those folks who can go out into their garden and plant out a beautiful garden spread without much planning effort.

For now though, my process and growing practices dictate a more planful approach. In a single season, it’s normal for me to grow 25+ varieties of veggies and greens. To fit everything in, I start with a well thought out layout.Garden Planner

To quickly build my layout, I created a custom grid-layout using a professional graphics program. In my custom file, I’ve also set up circular objects that represent each of the plants I will be planting out that particular season. Keep in mind that everything is to scale. Just below each object I’ve listed out things like days to maturity, size, etc. for quick reference as I’m laying things out.Planner

I typically start out with size information that I’ve obtained from online, a garden book or from a seed catalog. As I grow each veggie plant, I’ll make note of the final maturity size in my garden then I’ll update my circular objects accordingly.

Sure, there are tons of applications out there that I could use that’s done some of the work for me, but I have yet to find one that gives me the level of scalability and flexibility that my own system provides me. I simply move things around until I get the right fit keeping in mind the height of each plant. My personal system is a blend of biointensive and square foot gardening.

The initial time and effort it took me to set my system up was well worth the effort. Now, it’s just a matter of adding to or updating my library of plant objects and adding in new raised beds.

One online application that I like above all the others is Smart Gardener.  It’s a free application and has a lot of easy to use tools. They do have a number of plants in their database and have given folks the option of adding plants into their system. In my opinion, it’s one of the drawbacks of the application. There does not seem to be any real checks and balances for this added info and there can be several individual listings for the same plant. This adds time and effort when searching for a specific item. They do have a fairly robust search functionality, that allows you to weed out some of the duplication. Check it out for yourself. Note: I am not in any way being compensated for my opinion or mention of this product ~ I just simply wanted to pass along the info to you.

What Are You Planning to Grow This Fall? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear all about your plans for your garden this fall.

As for me, I’m planting the following:

  • Arugula
  • Beet, Albino
  • Beet, Chioggia
  • Beet, Detroit Red
  • Beet, Golden
  • Beet, Shiraz
  • Broccoli, Waltham 29
  • Carrot, Amarillo
  • Carrot, Cosmic Purple
  • Carrot, Lunar White
  • Carrot, St. Valery
  • Celery, Tendercrisp
  • Chives, Garlic (Chinese Leek)
  • Collard, Vates
  • Garlic, Inchelium Red (softneck)
  • Garlic, Lorz (softneck)
  • Garlic, Spanish Roja (hardneck)
  • Garlic, Thermadrone (softneck)
  • Greens, Corn Salad
  • Greens, Miner’s Lettuce
  • Greens, Minutina
  • Greens, Salad Burnet
  • Greens, Salsola soda (Agretti)
  • Greens, Tatsoi
  • Herb, Cilantro
  • Herb, Giant of Italy Parsley
  • Kale, Dwarf Siberian
  • Kale, Nero Di Toscana
  • Kale, Red Russian
  • Kale, Trenchuda
  • Kohlrabi, Purple Vienna
  • Leek, Blue Solaise
  • Lettuce, Bronze Goldring
  • Lettuce, Hungarian Pink Winter
  • Lettuce, Red Romaine
  • Lettuce, Red Sails
  • Lettuce, Rocky Top Mix
  • Mustard, Red Streaks
  • Onion, Ailsa Craig
  • Onion, Bianca di Maggio
  • Onion, Green Bunching
  • Onion, Mill Creek Red Onion
  • Onion, Red of Florence
  • Parsnip, Hollow Crown
  • Pea, Desiree
  • Pea, Little Marvel
  • Pea, Lincoln
  • Pea, Sugar Snap
  • Radish, Easter Egg Mix
  • Radish, Rat’s Tail
  • Spinach, Low Acid
  • Swiss Chard, Flamingo Pink
  • Swiss Chard, Rainbow
  • Turnip, Orange Jelly/Golden Ball
  • Turnip, Purple Top
  • Wheat, Emmers
  • Wheat, White Sonora

Told you I like to plant a wide variety of veggies and greens 🙂 This year we’re trying our hand at growing some winter wheat in our 10×10 raised bed.  Both varieties are very old heirlooms and are so different from the wheat varieties grown today. These two wheat varieties are both low in gluten and can possibly be eaten by those with wheat and gluten allergies. I’ve been off wheat and gluten for almost three years now and I plan to try my hand at making sprouted bread with this grain. I’ll keep you posted.

Well, I have a lot of work ahead of me so better get busy. Oh, remember to leave a comment about what you’re growing this fall. Have a great holiday weekend with your family and friends and enjoy the sunshine in your garden!

Sunshine

God Bless,

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9 Comments

Filed under In The Veggie Garden

9 responses to “Fall Garden Planning

  1. So happy to have found your blog! (thru XtremeHorticulture) I moved to Vegas in March and am working on a ranch growing all our food, something I wasn’t sure could actually be done but I have been impressed! I planted our summer garden March 17 – April 7th (because that is when I was hired) but as I looked around in late June I thought maybe that was too late a start to give the tomatoes (and cucumbers) long enough to produce much. We had tomatoes and cucs but not as many as I had expected from the numerous plants we had. I planted all my brassica, pumpkins and squashes last week along with some new cucumbers and replaced some dead tomatoes (hoping the tired looking ones will come back and fruit for us). I had started all these from seeds in the greenhouse for the last month or so, they are good sized but I should have started the pumpkins earlier as I don’t think we’ll have any for Halloween, maybe Christmas jack-o-laterns 😛 It sure is a big learning curve! Other than the timing issues and skimpy harvests, my peppers all are a little wonky. Most of the Bells are really tiny, like cherry tomatoes, and the Anchos are a little inverted like they want to be full size but they’re folded up inside themselves (almost like you could pull the top and bottom and it would come unfolded to be flu-sized)… I don’t know if you can understand what I mean, but if so, do you know why that would be?
    Thanks for your great blog, I look forward to visiting often!

    • Hi Sara Ant!
      I am honored that you like my blog so much. I’m also very impressed. I hope you don’t mind, but I clicked on your name link in your message and found your blog. I love that you’re traveling around working on various organic farms. I’m certain you have tons of wonderful stories to tell and have eaten a world of awesome fresh food.

      It’s definitely true that if you don’t get things started early enough here the summer heat could slow or stall the growth and production process. For next season, try utilizing hoops with agribon or hot caps to warm the soil and seedlings to get things growing even earlier.

      We’re heading into our cool season now and I’m not certain your pumpkins and squash will have enough time to mature (unless grown in a greenhouse). The cold really starts to kick in to gear in early November. Pumpkins and squash are typically planted in late March/early April. Summer squash may produce. Never hurts to try.

      Re: your peppers. Here’s my best guess…
      Malformed or “button” pepper fruit can be an indicator of poor pollination either due to the lack of pollinators in your area or due to low temps during flowering when pollination was taking place.

      Also, have your soil salinity level tested. High salinity in the soil can result in diminished yields, plant growth and fruit production (small fruit). If your salinity is high, you might want to revisit your irrigation practices.

      Another possible cause is that it could be the variety of pepper you’ve chosen to grow. It may not be well-adapted for our climate. You may want to test a few different types.

      I’m thinking your pepper issues might be more related to pollination. I would encourage you to grow wild flower hedges or edgings nearby your pepper plants and grow a diverse variety of wild flowers the pollinators love. Even intermixing wildflowers with your peppers will help to get the pollinators up and close to your pepper plants. Possibly start a bee hive, too. These hard little workers do an awesome job.

      I would also recommend that you pose this same question to Bob over at Xtremehorticulture. It doesn’t hurt to get a few different opinions.

      • Wow, thanks so much for all of that!
        And no, of course I don’t mind that you checked my blog out 🙂 I’m sorry I am so bad at updating it! It is hard to get the time to write while traveling and now that we are here and working – yeah right!
        This has definitely been my test year as far as gardening in the desert. We do have a greenhouse (40’x15′) that I hope to get into a good flow starting indoors and moving out, and I am trying to grow some things over winter in there. I did start the winter squashes & pumpkins (all my fall plantings actually) from seed in the greenhouse beginning of August…we’ll see what happens! This is my first garden of my own and I am taking lots of notes and keeping a calendar to work from next year. I will look into the salinity testing, thanks!
        We are planning on getting a couple beehives this spring. I have been doing research and making keeper acquaintances since March, then Tom threw a wrench in my system by getting me books on top-bar hives and now I am researching those (have been told it’s not worth it in our heat as the wax gets very messy…). We have a very lush landscape, the gardens area is about 2 acres of flowers and fruit trees; I think we have the pollen here but I definitely see signs of non-pollinating going on, the fruit trees most noticeably. This spring I am planting a bunch more flowering herbs and I would like to get some wildflowers between the hives and the garden to act like a path for the bees 🙂

        Thanks again! I look forward to your future posts

  2. Juanita

    Have you tried growing comfrey? Does it grow in the desert?

    • Hi Juanita,
      Good question. I’ll first start off by saying… no, not yet. Comfrey has many great qualities and can be an integral part of a biologically/holistically grown orchard. Its a deep taprooted plant that can effectively “pull up” minerals and other nutrients from deep within the soil. It’s also a great plant for beneficials… bumblebees love it and it makes an awesome fermented tea for the orchard.

      My biggest hesitation in planting comfrey in my orchard or garden is the fact that it can be extremely invasive. I know this is true in areas that receive quite a bit of rainfall. Unsure how it will do here directly in desert soil, but with a heavy layer of wood mulch on the orchard floor, it might have a chance to take hold. Personally, I would never grow this in a raised bed that gets regular water and is dedicated to growing vegetables. It can take over.

      I may experiment with this plant next year to see how it does, but for now I’ll stick with less invasive varieties of medicinal herbs.

  3. Your garden sounds lovely, and with some varieties I’ve never heard of. I’ll have to check out some of those seed companies. We planted our garden in early August, and have large lima beans, bountiful bush beans, Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach, Winter Density lettuce, Golden Bell beets (my sister has grown for years and saved the seeds for me), Early green broccoli, Jesi Cauliflower, and heirloom cilantro and basil varieties. That’s all this year as we’re still in-progress (gearing up to put in some more beds), but we’re getting there.

    • Hi Becky,
      Sorry for the late response. I always appreciate hearing from you 😀 Thank you for sharing your fall planting plan. I’m always so amazed at the variety of vegetables available to gardeners these days, especially with the heirloom seeding saving movement growing bigger each and every day. I will definitely check out some of the varieties you mentioned. I believe that starting small is the best way to garden, especially if you have big plans (like we do). It’s so easy to become overwhelmed. Gardening is meant to be savored ~ so take it slow, enjoy the process and grow your garden space when YOU are ready to do more. Take care and let me know how things are progressing. Also, share photos… I’d love to share them on my blog if you’re open to that idea 🙂

  4. Lois Zablockis

    Looks like you are planning a nice variety.

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