Many Minnesotans are reconnecting with our local food systems during the pandemic and have begun growing gardens again. As a former farmer, I’m sharing with you one of my favorite things about our four seasons: growing food!
Even as summer seems to finally be here to stay, and you’ve got your tomatoes slowly creeping taller, it’s already time to start thinking about fall planting. Prolonging the season takes some planning, but the reward of an autumn bounty after the summer nights wane is worth it.
Midsummer planting of quick-maturing and frost-tolerant crops is key—fall plants take longer to mature as the days become shorter and the nights cooler. In Minnesota, fall plants should go into the ground about mid-August, roughly 8 to 10 weeks before October’s first hard frost. Add a few days to the seed packets’ “days to maturity” to make sure they will be mature enough to tolerate frost. Replace your earlier plantings that have gone to seed with quick-maturing fall vegetables, such as beets, radishes, and winter squash—my favorite. Good frost-tolerant crops include brassicas like kale, broccoli, and kohlrabi—these need to be started indoors several weeks before midsummer planting or simply picked up at the local garden store. Other perfect vegetables for crisp, fall evening meals are carrots, scallions, turnips, and spinach.
In the meantime, enjoy the fruits of your spring labor and eat as many tomatoes as you can before the fleeting summer days fade.