Cool season organic gardening really begins in the heat of summer, in July and August, when its time to start seeds for the fall/winter garden. Fall and Winter organic gardening, although an old practice, is an excellent solution for keeping the tilth and fertility of your garden’s soil at its peak levels. At the same time it yields crops of delicious organic vegetables throughout the fall and winter that cost a fraction of produce purchased in the supermarket.
Cool season crops are essentially salad and cooking greens, especially all of the brassicas (cabbage family); root vegetables including carrots, beets, onions, shallots, leeks, and garlic; and oriental stir-fry vegetables. The time to start fall seed crops is determined, first, by finding the first frost date for your area. This should be available from your local extension agent. Then, find the number of days from seed-to-harvest on the seed packet. Add a few weeks for slow growth if the crop will be growing in cooler weather.
To raise a successful fall/winter crop you need the right seeds, excellent soil and perfect drainage. Many people use raised beds. The beds should be located for maximum exposure to winter sun. But, if seeds are started in the summer heat, some type of shade should be provided for the young plants. Raised beds allow easier installation of season extending devices, such as shade cloth, double plastic 6mm film stretched over a PVC hoop frame, row covers, and Remay winter blankets. Shade cloth, or 6 mm plastic can be attached to PVC hoops spanning the beds, anchored in 1-1/2 inch pipes sunk on either side, and secured with clips. Lengths of PVC pipe, one size larger than the size of the PVC used for hoops, slit down one side can be used for clips to secure the fabrics to the hoops.
If you are using the same space you used for a spring crop, keep in mind that the same types of crops should not be planted continuously in the same soil. If you planted cabbage at one end of your bed last year, don’t plant any type of brassica crop in that space the following year. Keep a journal so you know what sections of your beds were used for what type of crop in each season.
You will need to plan for crop rotation over the garden space. When choosing seeds for your next planting be sure to check out SeedsNow.com, they offer the highest quality NON-GMO, Organic seeds available. It is a good plan to reserve small sections for cover crops if the soil needs to be renewed.