Beyond the Tomato Season – talk this Saturday at Molbak’s

When we talk winter gardening in the summer, people are flummoxed.

“Hey, the garden’s full! How am I supposed to fit in the fall and winter crops?”

fall pea starts

In Lorene Forkner’s garden a couple of years ago, she planted peas in this whimsical box, set amidst her summer abundance.

Fall peas

As fall turns to winter, I cover the maturing pea vines with an open hoop-house cloche to keep them flowering and producing.

Or they give that cocky summer attitude.

“Forget kale — my tomatoes are just ripening!”

Well. Our beautiful summer can’t last forever, my friend, and if the late blight comes early, don’t come crying to me.

This Saturday at the venerable Molbak’s in Woodinville, I’ll be sharing some secrets about getting the winter garden underway, as well as offering ideas about what to do with the garden space when the big guns of summer — tomatoes, peppers, squash — have gone silent.

Here’s a sneak peek:

  • Succession planting is a key. See previous posts on this site, or just think about what you want put in when the current plantings are done. Also consider how you might vary the plantings to maximize the soil fertility in the bed and minimize the pest buildup by not always planting crops from the same family in the same place.
  • Try your spring crops again. Like peas? For the next few weeks, you could sprout a new crop that will make it seem like May in September. Salad greens can get continuous plantings through fall, and root crops like beets and carrots will also thrive in our fall weather.
  • Why stop at one crop per year, when in our climate you can have two or three or…?

My talk is 10-11 a.m., and from 11 to 3 there’s a Master Gardener clinic there, so you can also bring other plant problems and questions for my colleagues to field.

The Molbak’s folks assure me that they have plenty of fall vegetable starts and seeds on hand, too, as well as a full range of season extension tools.

Come see the pretty slides of winter vegetables and dream of the kale — I mean cool — season.

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