Getting ready for the fall garden in the Rogue Valley involves some fairly important considerations. Perhaps the most important of those is WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO GROW in your Rogue River – Medford – Jacksonville – Grants Pass fall garden?
I’ve assembled some information on some fall varieties to try:
Hardy Fall Varieties – After you’ve decided which crops to grow for fall harvest, zero in on specific varieties. There are big differences in cold hardiness among varieties; some are better able to photosynthesize at cooler temperatures.
Broccolis. Opt for varieties that produce plenty of side shoots, rather than a single large head. ‘Diplomat’ and ‘Marathon’ can survive the heat of late summer and thrive when cool weather arrives in fall, producing a second cutting as late as Thanksgiving. ‘Packman’ and ‘Diplomat’ are known for harvest by Thanksgiving and you should be cutting ‘Marathon’ by Christmas.
Carrots. Consider storage ability when choosing carrots for your fall garden, experts tell us. ‘Bolero’ is recommended for fall growing and winter storage.
Lettuces. Whether you garden in the North or South, lettuces are a mainstay of the fall garden. Several European heirloom varieties are especially durable: ‘Rouge d’Hiver’ (a flavorful romaine whose leaves blush red in cool weather), ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ (also called ‘Merveille de Quatre Saisons,’ a sweet and tender butterhead with red-edged outer leaves) and ‘Winter Density’ (also called ‘Craquerelle du Midi,’ a compact bib type with deep green leaves) are good bets. Even in Zone 5, these lettuces will hang on into December and, with the protection of heavy mulch or a cold frame, will often return with renewed vigor in early spring.
When the lettuces go dormant in winter, you can count on mâche to fill your salad bowl. Mâche (or corn salad) is delicious and will survive and continue to grow in colder weather longer than any other salad green. Seed mâche inside a cold frame from September through early November for harvest until April, when overwintered lettuce resumes its growth.
Kale. Of the popular Lacinato-type kales, ‘Black Tuscan’ consistently rated best in the Seed Alliance tests for cold hardiness, vigor, flavor and stature. The Alliance also recommends ‘Winterbor’ (a tall Dutch kale), ‘Red Russian’ and ‘White Russian’ (two tasty Siberian kales). It’s hard to go wrong with kale in fall, no matter the variety: All have superior flavor when temperatures drop into the 20s or below. Sugar is the plant’s natural antifreeze, so as the temperature drops, more starches are converted to sugar, sweetening the flavor of kale and other brassicas.
Radicchio. Still considered a specialty vegetable by many, radicchio thrives in the cool conditions of fall and offers a wealth of possibilities in the kitchen. Of the more than 20 varieties tested by the Seed Alliance in the past two years, a few Italian open-pollinated varieties proved most cold-hardy. ‘Variegata di Luisa Tardiva’ and ‘Variegata di Castlefranco’ produce upright, variegated heads similar to romaine lettuce, with beautiful hearts and radicchio’s signature bitterness.
Grown in cool weather, they are delightful, with a mild spicy flavor. Although some of the plants’ outer leaves were “toasted” at 14 degrees in the Seed Alliance trials, you can strip off any damaged leaves and enjoy the tasty interior.
Swiss Chard. The Seed Alliance has found that chard hardiness generally corresponds to leaf color. Green varieties tend to be most cold hardy, followed by gold, then pink, magenta and red varieties, which tend to be the least tolerant of cold. The old-fashioned ‘Fordhook Giant’ is very cold hardy.