When considering traditional summer vegetables, if you pick the right cultivar and plant quickly there’s still time for production. For those who like pickling cucumbers, many varieties reach maturity in 50 days, which would give you a chance to make more pickles. A number of zucchini varieties also reach maturity by 50 days. I do understand that many people are tired of zucchini even if they didn’t grow them, especially if you who have zucchini growing neighbors who are apt to leave bags full on your doorstep in the dark of night.
A crop that’s grown more often in the spring is carrots. There are some varieties such as Mokum and Napoli, which mature in 54 days. Napoli is also a good overwintering carrot. Overwintering means you can place a row cover or straw over the plants once frosts arrive and continue to dig carrots for a while. Carrots are best pulled within three weeks of being mature, but since fall and early winter are cooler, meaning cooler soils, you can leave them in the ground longer. However, carrots will continue to mature while in the ground and will get woody and start putting out more roots, so for the best taste and texture, don’t leave them in the ground too long.
For fall-loving crops there are some nice ones to consider, and most of the greens fit this description. With many greens you still want them to mature and be picked before that first fall frost. In this group consider lettuce with varieties that take from 28 to 57 days to mature, depending on whether you are looking for micro-greens (salad mix) or a head-forming lettuce. Swiss chard would also work well since it takes about 25 to 30 days to reach what’s termed baby chard, and 45 to 50 days for mature chard.
Some of my favorite greens are Asian greens. They vary in their need to be picked before first frost, with some enduring mild frosts if covered with a row cover. Many of these are also fine whether picked at maturity or younger, and most are great whether they are sautéed, stir-fried or used in soups. An easy one is Tatsoi, which grows in a rosette. You can start picking it at 21 days and it reaches maturity at 45 days. Another is Gunsho, which is similar to broccoli rabe but sweeter. It takes 40 days to mature, and if you just cut the stem it will re-grow for more harvests. My favorite is Pac Choi also called Bok Choy, which is a type of Chinese cabbage that is unlike the round cabbages seen in every grocery store. These vary in size and have smooth flat stems and leafy ends, all of which you can chop up and use. They take about 40 days to mature, come in many types and are great tasting.
What about crops that grow well after the first frosts — assuming it’s not a hard, hard frost? Many of the round red radishes easily mature in 25 to 35 days and do well one to two weeks after the first fall frosts. For vegetables that do well even two to three weeks after frosts begin consider kale, which, depending on the variety, takes 50 to 75 days to mature. You might also consider early maturing varieties of kohlrabi, which take about 50 days. Of course, spinach is a great green that takes between 35 to 45 days. Many people will cover some of their spinach with straw and in many of our winters this can keep the plants alive into spring, when they start growing again for early spring spinach.
These aren’t all the vegetables you might grow, but as you can see, there’s still plenty of time left for some great fall vegetable picking. Here’s to good harvesting!
Thought for the day: “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” —Miles Kington
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