We have enjoyed a very successful summer garden in spite of all the rain during June, July, and August when we recorded 24.8 inches of precipitation.
We got our first tomato June 4 and this morning, August 28, I picked another four. We still have a counter full of tomatoes and likely will not run out for a while, but just like beach season is not over in August, tomato season has a few months yet to run.
This year I planted tomato seeds on January 15, April 15, and July 1. In a normal year without so much rain and early heat, my current plants would still produce tomatoes until the end of September or early October. This year the early heat and buckets of rain shortened the producing season for my summer tomatoes.
However, some new tomato plants that I put into the ground on August 22, might give us some nice October, November and maybe even some December tomatoes. We have done it before so it just depends on the weather. A wet fall will make it very difficult for the plants to remain healthy. A relatively dry fall would help us.
It is actually a little easier to garden here in the fall than the summer unless you are trying to grow tomatoes. Cooler temperatures and less humidity generally mean the plants stay healthier. We do not have a lot of gardening space but we take advantage of all of our ground and usually have a really successful fall garden. Gardening is always a gamble and maybe fall gardening especially for tomatoes is a little more so. However, most vegetables plants do very well in the fall if they have enough time to mature.
You never know when the heat is going to stop and when the cooler weather will come so you have to hedge your bets. We are right on the water so we have a little advantage.
We will probably plant some green beans by the end of August. They like the heat and we still have plenty of that. We had really good luck with them last year and harvested a nice crop around the first week of November. We use white half runners- or what some would call mountain beans. We grow them on a piece of plastic latticework.
Our green beans are the only crop that probably needs to get into the ground very soon.
The rest of our fall garden can be planted as things cool down. About the middle of September, we will plant some sugar snap peas. We once almost harvested regular peas that were planted Oct. 1. The blooms got frozen in a hard freeze in the middle of January. The sugar snap peas seem to mature a little quicker and they are not all ready at once which suits my needs since I like to use a handful or so every day when they are available.
Along with the peas we will probably put some onion sets in the ground. Just to keep them from going to seed, I might put some of them in the shade. They are easy to grow and if they look like they are going to seed, we will just go ahead and harvest them.
Early to middle October, I will be putting in some broccoli plants. They are a gamble, if the weather is too hot, they will not get very big before bolting. We never have much luck with cabbage or carrots but both should work. Our soil just is not right for them. We have grown a few beets but we have a neighbor who can grow them better than us and shares them with us.
Late October to early November, we will plant lettuce seeds and plants. We never know which will work the best. It depends on the weather. We have had the best luck with Romaine, both red and green, butter crunch, and red oak leaf lettuce. Some years we have January and February lettuce. Some years like this year we are overwhelmed with March and early April lettuce. If we are lucky we might also get some November and December lettuce. It is all weather dependent.
About the same time we plant broccoli, we also plant Swiss Chard which grows much better for us than just about anything including Kale. We usually get the little individual plant plugs at S&H Feed and Seed in Swansboro. The plugs are about 20 cents each. The Swiss Chard works just as well as Kale in beans and soups and seems much more pest resistant. The Swiss Chard will last into the early summer of next year. You just keep cutting leaves and it keeps on growing.
We also get a few plugs of rutabaga. We plant those in late Oct to early Nov. and usually harvest in mid-January after a freeze.
We took some spare space last fall and planted garlic. We harvested in June/July and are now using the dried cloves. Our gardens have been really good to us. This year we have already enjoyed one volunteer cantaloupe and there is another one growing in our front flower beds.
We do make our own compost but I am not above putting some Miracle Grow on my tomatoes and the flowers.
If you are planning on moving to the coast and feel like a full fledged garden is too much, read my article Three Things You Need To Grow In The South. Concentrate on growing some pansies this winter and work on your tomatoes next spring. When you feel comfortable with those, try a hydrangea bush.
Growing things is good for the soul and the body. My tiny tomato seedling are always one of the first signs of spring.