Starting a Garden

July 11, 2018

By Robin Catalano

You’ve probably read that in the Berkshires and surrounding areas, if you don’t start your garden by Memorial Day, it’s a lost cause. But nothing could be farther from the truth! In fact, there are plenty of crops that grow better when sown from seeds in July, well after the threat of the early-morning freeze has passed; in our climate, those often extend into the first week or two of June, and can be devastating to tender plants. Also, several cool-weather crops—think spinach, salad greens, Brussels sprouts, and kale—are much more flavorful when harvested in the fall than their midsummer-growing counterparts.

Putting together a garden isn’t just good for the nutrients it provides and the money it saves you at the grocery store; it’s also a profoundly contemplative experience that allows you to set aside technology, multitasking, and other everyday distractions to focus on reconnecting with your natural surroundings. When we view our landscape as an extension of our living space, the garden becomes a place we look forward to visiting each week to tend our plants, enjoy the fresh air and sunlight, get moving, observe the plants and wildlife around us, and spend time simply being.

Your garden can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like—from a small patch outlined with decorative stones or some 2’ x 4’s to a carefully tilled and fenced half acre with automated drip lines for irrigation, or a system of raised beds with cedar frames. No matter which option you choose, you can invest in the health of your landscape by using the best-quality topsoil and organic soil amendments. By improving the quality of your soil, you’ll grow plants that are high in nutrients and minerals, which will improve your family’s health, as well.

Not sure where to begin? We can help you design a food system—from siting and choosing plants to building soil health and maintaining plantings—that looks beautiful and integrates with your already existing landscape, while providing a spectacular yard-to-table experience.

Or if you’re ready to get started on your own, here’s a guide to vegetables and herbs that grow well in the fall, from seeds sown or transplants planted now.

Plant When to sow seeds
Basil Late June through late July
Beans (quick varieties) Until the 3rd week of July
Broccoli Until mid-July
Brussels sprouts Until mid-July
Carrots Through mid-July
Dill Late July to early August
Escarole, endive Early July through August
Kale Through 1st week of August
Kohlrabi Through 1st week of August
Lettuce In groups, 2 weeks apart, from mid-July through September 1
Mustard Mid-July to mid-August
Parsley Mid-June through mid-August
Peas Early to mid-July
Radish Mid-July to early September, at 2-week intervals
Spinach Late July to early August
Summer squash Until mid-July
Turnip Late June to early August
Cabbage Through mid-July
Collards Until August 1

So if you haven’t yet had a chance to start some of your favorite vegetable and herb plants, don’t be afraid to dig in and get your hands dirty today. You’ll have the satisfaction of growing your own delicious, healthful, chemical-free foods, and you’ll be able to enjoy them in the fall, when the local farm store’s crops will most likely be winding down.

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