September 3 - Tracy R. asks:
"Thank you for your article about winter vegetables gardening. I am just getting started and based your chart I might be too late for many vegetables. Like you, I live in the Puget Sound area. Do you think it is worth a try to plant some of the winter vegetables now that should have been in the ground in June or July?"
I wouldn't bother with cabbages and Brussels sprouts, since those need a lot of time to mature - but non-heading greens would be worth a shot. Lettuce, spinach, chard, the various mustards, and kale all fall into this category. Just be aware they'll probably not be full sized come winter, so you might want to not thin them out as much - but they'll be just as tasty as their full-size brethren!
There's an interesting variety - Beira Tronchuda - that might be worth trying. Territorial Seed Company refers to it as a "non-heading cabbage", while Johnny's Selected Seeds lists it as a kale. I haven't grown it yet, so if you do I'd be curious to hear how it works out for you, given the late start.
Most roots won't work very well, since there's simply not enough time between now and winter for them to size up - and when spring comes, they'll bolt. Territorial sells a carrot named Merida, though, that can be sown this month. It will go through winter rather small, then start growing again in late winter. Unlike most carrots it won't bolt in early spring, so you'll be able to pull carrots in April or May.
I've successfully sown Walla Walla onions for overwintering in the first half of September. This won't work for most onions, but Walla Wallas are late to mature (July rather than June), so they have more time to size up after winter.
Oh, and don't forget about garlic and shallots - September and October are the best time to plant those.
One final note: Be aware that winter gardening can be challenging - you have to have a tolerance for failure. Sometimes circumstances are just beyond your control, whether it's abnormally frigid weather, torrents of rain, or battalions of slugs. If something doesn't work out, don't take it personally! Chalk it up to experience and try again next year.
All contents © Travis Saling
This page was last updated September 4, 2011