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Friday, September 3, 2010

Fall Is In the Air

The past two nights, I've slept with my windows open.  Pleasant temperatures are creeping in, and soon will be here to stay, which means: It's time to begin fall planting.

September and October are the primo months to plant fall/over-wintering gardens in Tallahassee.  If you're just getting started, you should also know that fall gardens are far easier than spring gardens.  Less heat, fewer bugs, more on-going produce.

Fall/Winter gardens are filled with green leafy vegetables, alums (that's the onion family), and root vegetables (just not of the potato variety).  Let me spell that out: green-leafy vegetables = collards, mustards, kale, cabbage, arugula, lettuces, spinach, and chard.  Garlic, onions, chives, garlic chives, green onions, and shallots are all in the alum family.  Fall root vegetables include radishes, turnips, rutabagas, beets, carrots, and parsnips.   Three categories: green leafy vegetables, alum, and root veggies other than potatoes.

A few extras for the fall garden are: cauliflower, broccoli, celery, and cilantro.  The first two-- in the brassica family-- are related to collards, cabbage, mustards, and kale.  Celery and cilantro are in the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family that also includes parsley, dill and fennel (all three of which can also be planted in the cooler temperatures of September through May).  Carrots and parsnips are part of the same family.

So, if you want to get technical about it, there are five vegetable families/species that work well in fall/over-wintering gardens: 1)Brassicas (collards, kale, cabbage, mustards, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, brussel sprouts and others), 2) Alums (onions, garlic, chives, shallots), 3) Umbelliferae (also known as the carrot family includes: carrots, parsnips, celery, dill, fennel, cilantro), 4) Asteraceae/Compositae (lettuce and chickory), and 5) Amarantheceae (chard, beets and spinach).

But that's confusing as all get-out.  So, my recommendation is to stick with three categories: 1)green-leafy vegetables, 2) Onion-smelling alums, 3) root vegetables other than potatoes. And just know that there are a few stray things that don't fit into our non-scientific categories.

Last night I dug summer sweet potatoes, munched on fresh okra, smelled the basil, tested a hot banana pepper-- all while prepping a garden bed with compost to prepare for a patch of green-leafy vegetables and carrots.  I'll be planting seeds this evening.

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