Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thanksgiving in August!

That title only makes sense because the local fabric and craft shops, that all have my address and aren’t afraid to use it, send me fliers in June and July advertising “Christmas in July” workshops and sales. The theory behind the July push seems to be that it takes a while to plan and complete craft projects, so getting an early start on Christmas gift-making is essential. A similar idea works for my garden. If I want to be able to go out and pick fresh veggies from my yard at Thanksgiving, I need to plan and begin the work in August.

Lots of plants do better in the cool weather of fall than in the blazing heat of a Georgia summer. Some of these, that I actually grow, are chard, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, peas, and broccoli. In addition, this year, as an experiment, I bought some rutabega seeds to try. My parsnips are already up; they have to be planted extra early since they need a very long growing time, so I planted those at the end of June.

I started my planning last week by looking at my seed supply and realizing that I needed more carrot seed, so I bought a packet of “Little Finger” carrots from Burpee. I’ve grown them before, and they were delicious. The back of the packet claims that I can harvest the little carrots just 65 days after planting. I would want the carrots to reach maturity (full sweetness and flavor) before the first freeze of the season, so the latest I should plant them is 65 days before the first frost date.

In the past, I have calculated my planting dates using Halloween as the first-frost date, but this article indicates that the Atlanta area gets its first frost fairly late in November, around the 20th.

Counting backwards from 20 November, I should plan to have those carrot seeds in the ground by 16 Sept at the latest. Since I want several weeks of carrots, and because the best-laid plans often go awry, I will probably plant little patches of them weekly before then, starting the last week in August. That should help ensure that my Thanksgiving relish tray includes my own garden’s carrots.

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