Inch by Inch: Second harvest

Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2012 in Features

Inch by Inch: Second harvest

Give peas a chance for an early fall harvest supper.

It's not too late to plant a fall harvest of certain things that grow quickly ... beans and peas come to mind, but you can also plant fall strawberries, onions, garlic, and many herbs, and even a second crop of lettuce, sown by seed right into the ground.

If you've finished with your first round of crops, give a second season a shot. First, however, make sure you've added new compost and dug out any weeds that will choke off your seedlings.

Bear in mind that an early frost may kill your hard work, but we've had a good summer so far, so it's worth the chance. 

Cut down old vines and toss them into the composter, then use the compost that's been cooking all summer to augment the soil. Most garden centers have long been out of plants, and it's too late to start tomatoes and other things that take months to produce, but things that grow underground, or things that grow fast, are easy enough to get going. In the case of strawberries, plant them in small containers you can bring indoors if necessary; everything else should be sown directly into the soil.

It can take less than a month to get beans and peas; lettuce can be ready in a month and a half, so there's a good chance that you'll have a second harvest this year. Anything that grows underground is relatively safe, and if things get bad later can be left to winter over underground and be a nice treat first thing in the spring. Wintered-over carrots are very sweet, for instance. 

If you are finished with a bed for the year, haul out the vines and plant a ground cover that will do your soil a world of good next spring. Clover is good, for instance, and so is alfalfa, but you can also plant legumes in those beds and get a second harvest. Marifax, soldier, and yellow-eye beans grow in Maine, as do fava beans. 

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