Photography by Jody Horton
Photography by Jody Horton
The culmination of your late-summer / early-fall planting stares at you from a bowl. What do you do? Treat it simply. Whisk together 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar and 5 teaspoons mild, extra-virgin olive oil to dress. This vinaigrette is more acidic than normal to balance out a rich meal, but feel free to use less vinegar for a more subtle salad. What follows are suggestions for fall varieties for your salad, from organic gardening master John Dromgoole, that you can plant now and harvest for your Thanksgiving Day feast. It’s our kid-friendly food project for this issue.
CARROTS: Renee’s Garden French Baby Carrots—“Babette” variety (70 days)
These may not be fully mature by Thanksgiving, but slender baby carrots can be harvested and eaten early. Sprinkle seeds on top of prepared soil about ½ inch apart in a row or broadcast across the bed. Push the seeds lightly into the soil (not too deep) and pat gently to firm the soil. Keep seedbed moist. The seeds should sprout in 10–20 days. Once the young carrots are up and growing, thin as needed to keep carrots about two inches apart. YIELD: 70 to 80 carrots per 10 feet of row
RADISHES: Renee’s Garden Rainbow Radishes “Easter Egg II” blend (28 days)
Radishes are the vegetables that give us the most instant gratification. It takes less than a month to get a fully mature crop. Plant seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep and pat down the soil lightly. The seeds should sprout within 5–7 days. Harvest at the correct time; old radishes are dry and mealy. YIELD: 4–10 pounds per 10 feet of row
LETTUCE: Renee’s Heirloom Cutting Mix “Baby Leaf Lettuce” blend (40 days) and Renee’s Farmers’ Market Lettuce Blend “Sweet Greens & Reds” blend (35 days)
In our area, leaf lettuce is easy and fast to grow, and can be harvested repeatedly. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep. The plants should emerge within 7–14 days. To harvest, give the plant a “haircut” with scissors, or break off individual leaves, leaving enough leaves to continue growing. YIELD: 20–40 plants per 10 feet of row
ARUGULA: Seeds of Change “Arugula (Roquette Salad)” (35–45 days)
Plant seeds ¼ inch deep, thin the seedlings to 2–4 inches apart. The seedlings should emerge in 3–7 days. For best flavor in a salad, harvest leaves when young, 2–3 inches long. Allow arugula to produce flowers, which are edible, very nicely scented, and attract beneficial insects. In addition, the fallen seeds will grow again next year.
SWISS CHARD: Botanical Interests “Bright Lights” variety (50–60 days)
This is a beautiful, multicolored variety of Swiss chard, with yellow, orange, pink, crimson and lavender stems. Very nutritious, Swiss chard may be eaten raw or cooked, and might be the only green that will be productive in the summer and fall. Plant the seeds ½ inch deep, in rows 12–18 inches apart. Plants should emerge in 5–10 days. Thin the seedlings to 8 inches apart. Harvest the tender outer leaves.