Being only half-way through the season, most avid gardeners are concentrating on delicious summer harvests of home-grown tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and more. But, believe it or not, it’s not too late to plant more veggies. Early to late summer is an ideal time to start sowing seeds for a bountiful fall harvest. Curious as to what the best vegetables are to plant now? Here’s a handy list of 10, along with recommended varieties, per our local Cherokee County Extension Agent.
Bush beans typically take about 50-60 days to mature. Good varieties to try include Bronco, Blue Lake 274, Half-Runners (State, White, Volunteer), Kentucky Runner, and Roma. Pole beans take just a little bit longer to mature, often 65-75 days. Good ones to try are Blue Lake, Dade, Kentucky Blue, or Moccasin. Fun fact: The world’s largest bean pods can grow up to five feet long.
About 45-65 days after planting, beets are typically ready to be pulled from the ground. Ideal varieties to try are Detroit Dark Red, Red Ace, and Ruby Queen. Fun fact: If a man and a woman eat from the same beetroot, beet lore claims that the two will fall in love.
Broccoli is a super food that can germinate in soil with temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It can take anywhere from 60-80 days to mature for harvesting. Best options are Marathon, Packman, Patriot, Premium Crop, Bravo, and Decathion. Fun fact: Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of broccoli. He imported seeds from Italy to plant at his Monticello home in 1767.
Carrots are great fall veggies to plant. They can actually get sweeter as the soil cools in the fall. After planting, you should be able to harvest in 70-95 days. Good ones to try are Chantenay, Scarlet Nantes, Sweetbites, Sweet Delight, and Thumbelina (small). Fun fact: Given the choice between raw and cooked, opt for cooked. Eating raw carrots only provides you with three percent of beta-carotene, but cooking them provides almost 40 percent.
Collard Greens take about 40-60 days to mature and are very cold hardy. They can handle to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit and their flavor can be enhanced with a light frost. Give Blue Max, Georgia Southern, or Hevi-Crop a try. Fun fact: In the South, it’s a New Year’s tradition to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens. It is believed that the meal symbolizes a new year full of cash, where the peas represent coins and the collards represent folded bucks (“green” money.)
It only takes about 50-65 days for cucumbers to mature. The best vined varieties to try are Burpless Hybrid, Diva, Marketmore, Straight Eight, Sweet Slice, and Sweet Success. Fun fact: The inner temperature of a cucumber can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air.
Kale can take anywhere from 40-60 days to mature. It’s cold hardy to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In our warmer climate, it can sometimes live right through winter. Varieties to try are Vates, Dwarf Siberian, Blue Armor, and Blue Knight. Fun fact: A serving of kale provides more absorbable calcium than a small carton of milk.
Pumpkins (pie type)
It’s wonderful to have sweet pie pumpkins on hand just in time for fall. They take a bit longer to mature than the other vegetables on this list — around 85-120 days, but they are worth the wait. Give Small Sugar, Sugar Baby, or Touch of Autumn a try. Fun fact: Every pumpkin contains about 500 seeds (which are also edible.)
Spinach often takes about 30-45 days to mature, and it will survive a light frost. For success with this leafy green, try Melody, Winter Bloomsdale, or Hybrid #7. Fun fact: In the 1930’s U.S. spinach growers experienced a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption. Why? Most believe it was because of the Popeye cartoon.
Just like pie pumpkin, winter squash takes about 85-120 days to mature. Try Acorn, Buttercup Bonbon, or Butternut. Fun fact: One cup of cubed winter squash contains about 80 calories, virtually no fat, and very little sodium.
Gardening is such a healthy activity that we’ve made it an integral part of life at Soleil. We have an avid garden club for all those that have a green thumb (or aspire to have one.) Our Garden Center includes a greenhouse, which is the perfect place to start those seeds mentioned above. It also boasts well-tended individual garden plots for our residents. Why not come see it for yourself? There’s so much more to experience at Soleil. Start planning your visit today.