Tag Archives: beets

Putting the Garden to Bed


Cooler temperatures tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins

Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.

Plant those Beets

beetsBeets are grown in all areas of the country. The popularity of growing beets is increasing as root vegetables experience a culinary renaissance. The sweet, earthy flavor of the roots and the deliciousness of the greens is wonderful, and both are quite high in nutrients including vitamins A and C, iron, and potassium.

Beet plants take up very little garden space and are a relatively, easy, fool-proof vege to cultivate.

When to sow

We recommend direct sowing beet seeds outside 2 to 4 weeks before average last frost, for early summer crop, and late summer for fall crop. Growing during hot temperature periods should be avoided. In mild climates, beets can sow fall through winter.


•To hasten germination, soak seeds for 8 to 24 hours before sowing.

•It’s very important to thin beet seedlings, as beet seeds are actually a dried fruit containing many seeds, and as a result, they germinate in clusters. Thin to 1 seedling every 4” as soon as they sprout, or alternatively, thin to 1 every inch and thin again when seedling are a few inches tall; enjoy the thinnings as your first mini-harvest.

We will be publishing some of your favorite beet recipes very soon.

 We offer a wide variety of beet seeds from Botanical Interests.

Second Season Gardening

fallgreensDid you miss getting some carrots, kale, herbs, or chard into the garden this spring?  Gardening for a Second Season starting mid to late summer (late July early August) is as an ideal time to plant seeds for a second gardening season as early spring.   Plus, that second season can be as productive as your major early spring plantings.

For a delicious and very nutritious cornucopia of fall meals, late summer is the time to plant juicy lettuces, the cool -season aromatic herbs – dill, garlic chives, chervil, cilantro, arugula, and parsley; hearty greens like chard or kale;  Oriental greens; carrots, beets, leeks, peas, green onion, spinach, radishes, fennel and all the brassica family members.

Plant a second season garden of crops that tolerate cold

Plant a second season garden of crops that tolerate cold

Late planted crops have less competition from weeds and pests and grow beautifully with less garden work. It may seem odd to be starting new seeds when a lot of your summer produce like squash and tomatoes are still cranking, but it’s well worth the effort.

For reliable harvests in cooler weather, seedlings must have good initial growth and well-established root systems. The goal is to have fully grown, ready to pick plants that basically store themselves in the garden throughout the fall, so you can pick them as you need them over a long sustained harvest season.

Start seeds in containers or in a garden area with dappled sun or light shade — wherever seeds can germinate comfortably out of the hot sun but still get plenty of light after seedlings are well-established. Plant in well-prepared moist soil and in the evening so they will have the advantage of cooler night temperatures to settle in and minimize shock.

With daytime temperatures likely to  still be in the high 80’s, or even 90’s you will need to shelter your newly transplanted seedlings with row covers or a shade cloths for a few days so they can adjust heat and sun.

Once the seedlings have acclimated, don’t forget to supply adequate moisture to these young crops and fertilize them regularly in the early growing stages.

All herb, vegetable and flower seeds can still be purchased at Paonia Farm and Home.

Speedy Salads for Small Gardens

A salad garden can be created in a very small space with minimal effort.

A salad garden can be created in a very small space with minimal effort.

Simple salad ingredients fulfill a number of criteria for home gardeners.  If you are growing greens in small spaces: they’re compact in size, quick to grow, often repeat-cropping, and in many cases are suitable for the shadier parts of your garden. So if you’re short on space, make sure you prioritze salad growing in your garden plan.

Salad Leaves for Small Spaces

Growing your own radishes for salads

Radishes usually mature in about six weeks.

Tender leaf lettuce is widely enjoyed during the growing season for a small investment of time and money.  It is the ideal veggie to grow in a small space, as lots of plants can be packed in close together if they are grown for baby leaves. Leaf lettuce responds well to repeat picking; take a few leaves at a time or cut whole heads and the stump should regrow up to three more times.

The choice of lettuce varieties is astounding. It’s fun to have a pick-and-mix of different types growing in the garden to choose from – try combining red and green varieties, or oak-leaved with frilly leaved varieties for an eye-catching salad bed or container. Sow a few rows every couple of weeks to ensure a steady supply over the summer.

Lettuce is great, but peppery rocket (arugula) is even better, and it’s also good for the cut-and-come-again treatment. Rocket tends to bolt (run to seed) when the weather heats up, so grow it in spring and early summer, or try one of the many varieties of salad rocket in place of wild rocket as they are a little less quick to go to seed.

Shade-Loving Crops for Small Gardens

Growing Beets/beetroot for salads

Beet roots harvested young can add some great flavor to a super salad.

What makes leafy greens such as lettuce and rocket really valuable is that they are best grown in partial shade to stop the leaves from getting too tough. This also delays bolting. In a small garden where space is at a premium, being able to use the shady areas is a real benefit, so that full sun spots can be reserved for plants that really need the extra light to thrive.

Green onions or scallions are quick to grow and will also tolerate partial shade. It took me ages to realize that.  For best germination results, wait until the soil warms before sowing, or pre-warm the soil by covering it with a cold frame or a sheet of plastic.

Rapid Roots

Root vegetables can be harvested when small and immature for delicious ‘baby’ vegetables that are gorgeous grated into salad. Beetroot and  greens are an added bonus, giving you two salad crops from one plant.

Radishes are one of the quickest and easiest vegetables to grow, and they pack a serious punch of flavor. Harvest them usually within six weeks of planting and before they are too spicy, big or woody so the roots have a satisfying crunch.

Other Worthwhile Salad Crops

Cucumbers normally produce fruit within about 90 days.Worthwhile Larger Plants for Small Gardens

Lastly, cucumber is my choice for small-space salads – it’s certainly speedy, going from seed to first fruits in approximately three months.   While cucumber plants are known for spreading they can be grown up a trellis to save space. One or two plants should produce more than enough cukes for the average family.

Cherry tomatoes fall into the same category – you won’t regret squeezing one or two plants in if you possibly can.  Certain varieties of container grown tomatoes can mature in approximately 70 days.

What speedy salad ingredients do you grow in your small garden? Share your experiences with us on Facebook.