Rogue Gardener: This mild August makes for good yields

As I write this, it feels more like autumn than summer. There has been rain over the past weekend. The temperature is mild. It has been that type of year.

I, for one, really enjoy it. And from the comments I hear from all the gardeners out there, your plants have enjoyed the cooler than average weather also. With less stress from high temperatures, it seems that almost every garden crop is producing a bounteous, high-quality harvest.

Sure, there have been the isolated outbreaks of blossom end rot, and the occasional stray aphid or two, but nothing devastating or even life threatening for the most part. May all summers be this enjoyable!

I went to a you-pick peach orchard this afternoon. It wasn't my intention, but business took me out to Pioneer Road in Phoenix and I just couldn't resist the temptation to stop when I saw the trees laden with fruit as I drove by. I felt it my duty as the Rogue Gardener to relieve the trees of any excess weight that may strain or break their branches. Apparently there is a bumper crop of peaches as well, as I saw many branches that had already snapped under their load.

I hope you are taking advantage of the wonderful quality of fruit that you can obtain at our local growers. I understand that one of the supermarkets has local peaches for sale at $1.59 per pound. I filled a flat with 9 pounds of peaches for $4. The GloHavens were absolutely perfect and delicious. It must have taken me the better part of three minutes to pick them.

I do have a height advantage when it comes to picking tree fruits. That almost makes up for how far away the ground is when I try to pick strawberries! I always feel somewhat privileged to be allowed among the trees to pick a crop that has taken so much effort and risk to produce.

Presently I am making a list of plants that I want to include in my fall garden. As crops like early corn and onions are harvested, they provide room for those that will grow and can be harvested during the fall and winter months.

The nurseries and garden centers will not have the pony-paks of lettuce and all the cole crops until the beginning of September. I think they are missing a bet. I have not had any luck with planting them in September and harvesting them in the fall, with the exception of broccoli. At that point, they don't produce until the following spring, gathering weeds as they grow, providing a safe haven for early insects, etc. As you can tell, I am not a fan of late planting of cabbage and cauliflower.

Here's a list of plants that can be directly sown in a well-prepared seedbed until the middle of September with great results and can be harvested this year: arugula, chervil, oriental and regular radishes, garden cress, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard and turnip greens, onion sets for use as scallions, and spinach. If you like to over-winter a few things, this is the time to plant seeds of Walla Walla onions for scallions in the spring and bulbs in June or July.

If you have any room in your raised garden beds, you may plant carrots at this time of year for harvest through the winter months. Plant in the lightest soil and the best-drained spot you have. If the soil is deep enough, plant full-length varieties or if you prefer, the half length and baby carrots are good bets. Merida is a fine variety for winter use if you can find it on the seed racks.

Winter gardening can be iffy in the Rogue Valley. I wouldn't dare to guess what the weather will be like in November and December. Having a few items like row covers and some large pots to throw over plants on particularly cold nights might be a good idea. A row of Christmas lights placed next to your row of beet greens can be a lifesaver on a particularly frosty morning.

If you have some space, try a little fall gardening. It can quickly become a healthy, tasty habit.

Stan Mapolski, aka The Rogue Gardener, can be heard from 9-11 a.m. Sunday mornings on KMED 1440 AM and seen on KTVL-TV Ch. 10 every Wednesday during the 5 p.m. news. Reach him at

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