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August 15, 2011
By Jim Sloan
If your summer vegetable garden wasn't as productive as you hoped it would be, you still have a chance to put some backyard produce on the kitchen table.
According to University of Nevada Cooperative Extension horticulture expert JoAnne Skelly, late summer days with their cooler temperatures provide excellent growing conditions for many vegetables, including lettuces, chard, kale, collards and spinach.
"A number of vegetable gardeners are unaware of the opportunities for growing late-season crops," said Skelly, the Cooperative Extension Educator for Carson City and Storey County. "They get all excited about gardening in the spring, do all the work and then simply wait for their tomatoes and other warm season crops to ripen, never realizing they could extend their season."
Skelly said other vegetables worth planting in August include Chinese cabbage, peas, carrots, beets, some herbs and radishes. Root veggies grown in the fall often taste sweeter because of the warm soils and cooler air temperatures, Skelly said.
"Beets are a vegetable for all seasons," Skelly said. "You can eat their leaves and roots. They are hardy to 15 degrees if covered with a layer of mulch to protect the roots.
"Lettuces are easy to grow and you can grow so many interesting varieties," Skelly added. "They, too, are hardy to 15 degrees. Spinach (not the New Zealand variety) does well in the shorter cooler days of late summer and early autumn and is hardy to zero degrees.
Skelly said that if you plant your cool season vegetables now, you may be able to harvest from late October to December.
"Carrots will grow in most any garden with well-worked soil," she said. "They, too, should be mulched to extend their harvest. If you plant radishes now, you can have a crop almost instantly while you wait for everything else to come up."
Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Coordinator for Western Nevada Wendy Mazet said one trick is to plant lettuce and spinach where you had first planted peas. The nitrogen fixed in the soil by the peas is just what these two crops need. However, she pointed out that putting root veggies such as carrots where peas or beans were will produce lots of green on the carrots and very little root.