In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
October, 2012
Regional Report

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These luscious fall greens can be kept growing through November.

Tasty Vegetables through the Fall

The waning hours of sunlight tell us fall is here. But even though the tomato and cucumber harvest is dwindling, there is still a plethora of vegetables that can feed us into fall and early winter.

If you have salad and stir-fry greens up and growing, with a little persistence you can enjoy them fresh from the garden through November and even into December, although they may need the assistance of a cold frame for an extended harvest. The stalwart root vegetables can be enjoyed straight from the garden almost the entire winter as long as you are willing to pile on the mulch and tramp out into the snow to harvest them.

Endive, lettuce, mesclun, and spinach are some of the choicest salad greens in spring and actually make great fall crops as well. You can easily start seeds now and with the assistance of a cold frame, be cutting your own "spring mix" that costs a fortune in the grocery store. When the greens are up about two inches, cut them off with scissors and let them grow again. You can usually get two or three cuttings from a planting, and if you sow every week or so, you will have a harvest into November.

Vegetable Pit
You can harvest beets, carrots and parsnips, salsify, turnips, and horseradish and move them into cold storage if you have that option. But if not, use the garden for storage until the frost is deep enough in the ground that they can no longer be dug. You can also dig a pit or trench in which to store harvested root vegetables, topping it with a hay bale so you have access to the veggies during the winter. Just be sure to locate your trench or pit where you will have easy access to it when the snow is deep.

Parsnips are true late fall vegetables, savored by many for their nutty tasting roots. For the sweetest flavor, parsnips should be left in the ground until their tops are solidly killed by cold. After at least 2-4 weeks of freezing temperatures, you can begin digging the roots for the table. By putting a bale of hay over the roots, they can be harvested all through the winter until the roots begin to be depleted by spring growth.

Salsify and black salsify are similar tasting but unrelated roots that are grown like parsnips. They should be left in the ground until several freezes sweeten the roots. They, too, can be left in place with a heavy mulch and harvested as needed through the winter.

Beets, Carrots, Turnips
Beets, carrots and turnips are ideal fall crops, and a thick mulch will keep the soil freezing around them. Don't forget to enjoy the succulent beet greens at the same time.

Leeks can left for late autumn harvest when they are at their thickest. It's all but impossible to pull leeks without damaging them, so it's a good idea to mulch the soil around them so they can be easily dug with a spading fork. Those leeks that are not harvested in fall and winter can be left for early harvest or bloom in spring.

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