With our changing climate, I've noticed fall has become a great time to garden. Specifically, we like to plant crops that mature in the cool, fall weather. I've found with our extended falls, by planting crops that can take a light freeze, we can have an abundance of fresh veggies in autumn beyond winter squash, leeks and potatoes.
One crop that is good to sow now is carrots. Plant fall-maturing carrots eight to 10 weeks before the first killing frost to get a good harvest.
The first step is to remember to plant. The second is to clean out some room for planting, preferably in a raised bed on compost amended soil.
Step three: select the right varieties. Plant a combination of varieties to see what grows best in late summer and fall in your garden. Look for quick maturing varieties such as 'Napoli', 'Yaya' and the round 'Thumbelina'. These all mature in less than 60 days.
Sow seeds and keep the bed evenly moist. Carrots can take up to 15 days to germinate. We use a floating row cover draped over the carrot bed after sowing. You can water right through it, pests stay away and it keeps the soil a little cooler and moist for best germination. Once up and growing, thin and keep weeded. Protect the carrots with heavy weight row covers or hay mulch if killing frosts are predicted. You'll have sweet tasting carrots to enjoy right into winter from your garden.
Now for this week's tip: keep deadheading tropical plants in August. With this summer's weather, heat-loving plants, such as canna lilies, mandevilla vines and hardy hibiscus, are loving it. Keep removing spent flower stalks and dead flowers and you'll get more blooms as we march towards fall.