It may seem like an oxymoron to continue gardening as temperatures cool down, but here are a few tips to keep your green thumb busy!
First and foremost, remember that Fall is a very important season for a successful garden. Though it can be tempting to throw in the towel after a long growing season, take this window of opportunity to improve your home garden. Not only do certain garden chores get easier as you beat the heat, but there are also some crops worth growing in the colder months. Colder months are a great time to:
• Plant hardier vegetables that can handle first frosts.
o Carrots can be planted into mid-winter in light, fluffy soil. They need full sun and adequate drainage for a successful harvest.
o Several varieties of greens (mustard, collards, spinach, kale, etc.) do well in colder months.
You can plant seeds or transplants into the late winter. Be sure to harvest them before they flower.
o This is a great time of year for garlic! Take a clove from an organic bulb you’ve purchased, push it 2 inches underground, and walk away. You’ll harvest the garlic when the leaves begin to dry and wilt.
Prune perennials and clean up leftovers from the Spring. Think Fall cleaning! Check out this guide
• Start composting. Add kitchen scraps to a compost bucket to create the best possible fertilizer for your garden. You’ll find several online how-to guides to help you out.
• Preserve leftovers by venturing into home canning. There are two methods used in home canning- the boiling water bath method for high acidity fruits and veggies and the steam-pressure cooker method for low acid fruits and veggies. Therefore, you may need to purchase some equipment to get your started. Food safety is extremely important in home canning. Though there are many online do-it-yourself tools, a comprehensive guide from USDA can be found here.
Whatever you do, do not let your garden die! Keep you and your kids growing this winter with these and other green-thumb activities.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a best selling author and the creator of "The F-Factor Diet", an innovative nutritional program she has used for over a decade to provide thousands with the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, and improved health and well-being. In January 2011 Tanya launched the F-Factor food line with the largest natural foods company in the US, the Hain Celestial group. She is thrilled to be able to offer the highest fiber products on the market to date. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.