How To Heat A Greenhouse In Winter

Wondering how to keep a greenhouse warm in winter without investing in electric or fuel-supplied heating systems?

Yes, it can be done. And without adding any more costs to your household budget. I mean, who needs another bill right? Right.

Now, you might be wondering why bother keeping your greenhouse warm during the frostier months anyway – why not just enjoy the season? Well, this girl likes her greens.

Ok, you caught me. I DO like greens, but I’m not a superfan. I like them…but more like sprouts on a sammich. NOT full blown salads. Unless they’re Southwestern salads. Then, bring on the arugula. ANYWAY, I like to keep growing over the winter because, well, I like to grow vegetables. Like any normal, sane person.

The other reason to keep a greenhouse warm in winter is because if you ARE growing anything, you’ll want to provide a healthier living environment for your vegetables, prevent cold spots, and reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

I have more readers growing crops in the winter, and naturally, a common question is how to heat a greenhouse in winter for free (which mean you can grow a wider variety of vegetables, too).

 
Wondering how to heat a greenhouse in winter? Here's 4 easy but genius ideas to heat a greenhouse without electricity! You can even heat a greenhouse with compost!

Understand the Basics of How to Keep a Greenhouse Warm in Winter

Before we delve into our ideas, let’s first establish some basics. In this season where temperatures can go unpredictably low, you can only do so much. In other words, don’t try to grow oranges in sub-zero weather. You won’t be successful, right?

So, let’s talk about some basics to help you run your greenhouse in winter.

  • Choose the right crops to grow for the season. Go for low-lying greens like kale, spinach, and mustard greens that can stand below-freezing temperatures
  • Invest in a good quality thermometer like this one that can read max and min temperatures throughout the day.
  • Only heat the areas necessary. Grouping plants together will help you save energy and cost.
  • Install proper ventilation to prevent the spread of fungal diseases and maintain a healthy growing greenhouse.

Here are 3 more effective strategies in controlling the temperature inside your structure without having to waste fuel or energy.

Store Thermal Energy Using Thermal Mass

Thermal mass heaters are the bee’s knees, and easy to incorporate into your greenhouse. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, thermal mass, sometimes called a heat sink, absorbs and stores solar heat energy.

This involves putting materials around your greenhouse that absorb heat from the sunlight during the day. These heat sinks are then capable of slowly releasing thermal energy at night time when the mercury drops like crazy.

Here are some effective methods to collect thermal mass:

Idea 1: Build a cobbled pathway across the floor of your greenhouse using dark gravel or small stones (you can reach out to a local nursery or a dealer that sells rocks for driveways).  These rocks naturally absorb heat – and the release of this heat keeps your plants warmer during the dark, cold hours of winter.

Idea 2: Since water has higher heat capacity than land or soil, try putting water or rain barrels around the interior of your greenhouse. Place dark barrels at a Southern-facing location, where they can easily absorb sunlight in the day. Make sure they’re also near tender plants that need more warmth at night

Idea 3: Use cinder blocks or earthenware ceramic pots to further absorb solar heat. They can be used to support planters on table-tops and benches, and they can release their heat around the plants (this is also a good idea to keep your chicken flock’s water from freezing over the winter).

Note: Painting these materials dark (i.e. black) helps absorb more thermal mass and one additional tip on how to keep a greenhouse warm in winter.

square foot gardening plant spacing

Build an Indoor Compost Pile

This is a genius idea that’s also one of the most sustainable techniques to keep your greenhouse warm this winter.  (Psst…it’s also cost-effective since you can build it nearly for free AND you won’t have to use power or fuel to heat your greenhouse. This is what we call Win-Win-Win.)

As the material in your pile composts, bacteria that break down organic material generate a considerable amount of heat to the environment. We cover compost piles in depth in Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Farming. Save 10% with coupon code GREENHOUSE right here.)

Insulate!

Insulation is another option to keep a greenhouse warm in the winter.  So what do I mean by insulate?

Well, you can insulate the entire greenhouse using plastic sheeting, OR you can add row covers (yes, row covers over crops inside your greenhouse) for added protection.

Plastic helps absorb more heat without keeping the sunlight away from your crops. Combined with the other ideas in this article, you have quite a few ways to keep a greenhouse warm in winter.

There are many other natural techniques for keeping your greenhouse thermally controlled throughout the year. In the most challenging seasons, let these suggestions guide you on how to heat a greenhouse in winter for free. You don’t have to do everything. You just need to find the right combination that will work best for your set-up.

square foot gardening plant spacing

Grow Sunflower Microgreens As A Healthy Treat For Your Hens!

Sunflower microgreens are a delicious addition to your recipe collection, and they’re easy to grow in your kitchen.

 

Once “mature,” you can harvest your sunflower microgreens, and their rich, nutty flavor and crunchy texture fit into every meal of the day. They pair particularly nicely with eggs at breakfast, soups, sandwiches, and wraps at lunch, and alongside meats and grains at dinner.

 

Chock full of vitamins, protein, and lecithin to break down fatty acids, sunflower microgreens are not only delicious, they also pack quite a nutritional punch. Growing them yourself is economical, satisfying, and fun. It’s an easy crop for children to plant and grow and makes a great addition to their favorite meals, including pizza, tacos, and alphabet soup.

 

An as an added bonus, your chickens, ducks, other poultry, and rabbits will also jump at the chance to down some sunflower microgreens as part of their diet (and you might even save some money at the same time!)

 

Are you ready to exercise your green thumb by growing your own sunflower microgreens this planting season? Follow these ten easy steps!

 

Start by purchasing quality sunflower sprouting seeds.

 

You don’t need to purchase the most expensive seeds, but you do want the black oil sunflower seed variety. Make sure the seeds you purchase are for sprouting – organic seeds are best so you can be sure they haven’t been sprayed with harmful chemicals.

 

Click here to buy organic sunflower sprouting seeds on Amazon

 

Then purchase a growing pad, organic soilseedling tray, and plastic cover, and set them aside for later use. (You can make your own organic soil as well).

 

Soak the seeds in warm water for at least 12 hours

 

Grab a mason jar and pour in enough seeds to cover your grow tray. Because we’re growing microgreens, space isn’t as big of an issue so be generous – you want a large enough harvest to make the effort worth it.

 

Be sure to keep the seeds covered as they soak to keep dust, bugs, etc out of the jar.  This will speed up germination, and let you harvest the sunflower microgreens faster. You’ll also waste less seeds.

 

If you don’t want to go through the soaking process, then you can just plant the seeds directly in the grow tray.

 

But if you want to soak your seeds, then…

 

Drain and rinse the seeds thoroughly with cool water, then repeat the soaking process.

 

Again, use warm water and soak for an additional 12 hours. It’s very important to rinse the seeds thoroughly so they don’t get moldy.

 

At this point, you should start to see the seeds begin to sprout. It will look like they’re growing tiny tails.

 

Pour potting soil into your grow tray and spread the seeds very thickly.

 

You can cover the seeds very lightly with additional soil, but it’s not strictly necessary. Cover the tray with the plastic top so moisture is retained – make sure there is some ventilation, and remove the top if the seeds begin to mold.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy addition to any meal!

Water your sunflower microgreens by placing the tray inside a larger tray or tub.

 

This allows the seeds to receive water from the bottom without disturbing them from the top. You don’t want to displace any of the dirt or disturb the seedlings’ root structure.

 

As the seeds grow and start to push up, move them to a sunny spot (like a bright window) and continue to water them regularly.

 

You CAN use a grow light if you want, but it’s not strictly necessary, since your sunflower microgreens will be harvested in a few days.

 

In a week to a week and a half, the sunflower shoots should be about 4” tall.

 

Harvest your sunflower microgreens!

 

Once they’re about 4″ tall, it’s time to harvest the fruits of your labor. Cut your sunflower microgreens right above soil level and store them in a sealable plastic bag.  They should last 4-5 days in your refrigerator.

 

To use them, pull out the amount you need for each recipe, and rinse them carefully under cool, running water.

 

Use this easy method to grow these tasty greens whenever you want them. Because they’re ready to harvest so quickly, they don’t require a ton of planning ahead, and because they last for 4-5 days when refrigerated, they can also be ready to use when you’re ready for them.

Grow sunflower microgreens for a healthy snack!

Ideas to use your sunflower microgreens

 

Try your first harvest in a simple summer salad:

Mix sunflower microgreens with peeled and cubed blood oranges and avocados, peeled and shredded carrots, and chopped walnuts or pecans. Dress with a light vinaigrette dressing and add slices of crusty, homemade bread for a delicious summer meal.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What’s your favorite way to use sunflower microgreens? Leave a comment below!

What Can I Plant In September?

Although the gardening season is winding down, you might be wondering “what can I plant in September?”

 

As long as you have a south-facing cold frame set up (or a hot bed would be better), you have options for crops you can grow through the winter.

 

(For directions to build a cold frame and a hot bed, check out my bestselling book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening)

 

Without a cold frame, unless you live in a warm area (zones 8-11), you’ll not have much success. Even in our area, we can over winter spinach without a cold frame, but not much else.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you 11 crops you can still grow in September, even though the days are getting shorter and cooler!

 

Lettuce

Direct sow your lettuce when temperatures inside your cold frame are between 45 F and 65 F. You can sow either individual seeds in rows or broadcast. After sowing, cover the seeds lightly with ¼ inch of soil.

 

When seedlings are 4” tall, thin to 4 – 16 inches apart depending on the lettuce you’re planting. It’s best to avoid firm headed lettuces and shoot for leaf types.

 

Radishes

We love growing radishes because they’re as close as you can get to instant gratification in a garden. They’re ready to harvest in about 30 days.

 

Direct sow radishes by planting seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart. Rows should be 12 inches apart and in full sun.

 

A week after seedlings emerge, thin radishes to about an inch apart. When crowded, radishes will sprawl and not form round roots. They will be woody and bitter.

 

Plant consecutively every two weeks for a continuous harvest of radishes.

 

Beets

Beets are perfect to grow in a cold frame because they can survive frost and temperatures down to 32 degrees (although soil temp needs to be at least 50 degrees for the seeds to germinate).

 

Before planting, select a sunny site, and incorporate compost into the soil. Test the soil because a pH higher than 6 and lower than 5 makes it difficult for the seeds to sprout.

 

Soak the seeds for 24 hours before direct sowing them to speed up germination.

 

Plant seeds ½ inch deep and thin to 2 inches apart when the seedlings are 4 inches tall. Snip the seedlings you’re removing (instead of pulling them out of the soil) so you don’t disturb the soil.

 

Cabbages

Cabbage prefers to only grow in cold temperatures, and as soon as heat hits our farm, cabbage season is as good as over.

 

Kale

Kale is an incredibly resilient plant and thrives in colder temperatures, and the funny thing about kale, is it tastes better if it’s been through a frost!  

 

We broadcast kale seeds because they’re so tiny, and the plants thrive well in close quarters as long as you fertilize and water regularly. Cover lightly with dirt and mist regularly. In 3-4 weeks, you should see seedlings.

 

Be sure to harvest the outer leaves of kale before they get too big to ensure they’re still tender and not bitter.

 

Leeks

These green treats resemble giant scallions, and are excellent for sub-freezing temperatures – they have proven to be cold-hardy down to approximately 5° Fahrenheit!

 

Spinach

Spinach needs 6 weeks of cool weather to grow to harvest size properly, so as soon as the soil is workable, sow spinach in a cold frame. Soil temperature should not exceed 70 degrees to ensure your spinach germinates.

 

Sow spinach ½ inch deep. We broadcast our spinach seeds since they’re so small. To ensure a consistent harvest, plant spinach successively every 2-3 weeks.

 

Onions

This robust crop can easily withstand freezes and frosts, making them perfect for a cold frame. You can grow onions from seeds or sets; starting with sets is a bit easier.

 

When planting onions, it’s important to remember that they need full sun in order to grow healthy, so make sure your cold frame is in a sunny location.  

 

Plant in rows 12 inches apart, and about 1 inch deep for sets

 

Swiss Chard

This crop is quite cold-hardy. Plant seeds ½ inch deep. It’s simplest to broadcast the seeds, then cover lightly with dirt. Succession plant seeds every 2 weeks for a continued harvest.

 

Cover crops

Cover crops such as clover. This time of year is a good time to think about direct sowing cover crops – they’ll prevent your topsoil from getting blown away and lower the amount of weeds come spring. They’ll also fix nitrogen so your spring crops will get a kickstart thanks to all the nutrients in the soil.

 

Garlic

Don’t forget to plant your garlic bulbs! You’ll want to plant them now for a summer harvest next June. Start before it gets too cold, and be sure to cover with straw if frost threatens.

 

What To Buy At The Farmer’s Market This Month: September

It’s fall y’all! I LOVE fall especially at the farmer’s market!

I know all anyone can think about this month is pumpkin spice, but I’m over here dreaming about the yummy fruits and vegetables I’ll be able to buy at the farmer’s market in September.

In my area farmer’s markets are in full swing in September and all of the farmers start pulling out all the stops to satisfy everyone’s pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon needs.

I love the farmers market! But I’ve learned over the years that not everyone can navigate the farmer’s market as easily as others. Personally I think that shopping at the farmer’s market is a great experience as long as you go into it with the right expectations. Here are a few things to know before you head out to your local farmers market.

  1. Your food will not look perfect!

Many of us are used to the picture perfect produce we see at the grocery store. But most of the time the produce you pick up from the farmers market is not going to look perfect, and that’s ok!

2. You won’t find out of season produce.

When you shop at the farmer’s market you have to get used to eating seasonally. So if you live somewhere with cold winters, you’re probably not going to find fresh corn in January. But the great thing about eating seasonally is that it allows you to try out produce you haven’t tried before that’s available locally in your area!

3. You food will taste amazing!

Produce from the farmer’s market are typically picked when they are ripe because they don’t have to be shipped long distances. Because of this your food will taste amazing because it was picked at peak ripeness! Plus it’s fresher than produce you get from the grocery store, so it will taste so much better!

I could keep raving about farmer’s market products all day, but let’s get started. Keep in mind that this is a general guide and it could vary based on where you live. If you want to know exactly what to look for at the farmer’s market in your area check out this website called The Seasonal Food Guide!

So here are some products you should be looking for at your local farmer’s market in September!

Chives

I love chives because they are such a good garnish for food! They add a super yummy flavor to any meal! I am so excited to get some fresh chives so that I can try out this recipe for Chive Biscuits!

Tomatillos

Ok so I’ll admit to being obsessed with salsa. I just can’t stop myself from eating it! And tomatillos make the best salsa! This recipe is for a classic salsa verde made with tomatillos!

Sweet Potatoes

I’ve actually grown to love using sweet potatoes in my meals. I used to think sweet potatoes were disgusting, but now I’m really loving using sweet potatoes in soups like this one. Make sure you pick up some sweet potatoes at the farmer’s market this month!

Onions

Onions are in season in September! I love having fresh onions, but they make my eyes water like crazy! It’s worth it though for the delicious flavor it adds to all of my meals! Growing up we had onions and garlic in EVERYTHING, so it’s definitely a cooking staple for me!

Garlic

Personally, I love to store fresh garlic that I get from the farmer’s market, so that I can eat it all year long! You can read my post about How To Store Garlic Long Term here!

how to store garlic long term #garlic

Endive

I’ve never had endive before, but I’ll definitely be looking for it in September at the farmer’s market so that I can try it out! I’m super excited to try this recipe for goat cheese stuffed endive!

Celery

Celery is a classic snack for your kids and I love eating it too! It’s especially good when you get it from the local farmer’s market! Check out my favorite healthy snacks for kids for my favorite ways to make healthy eating fun (and delicious) for your kids!

Brussels Sprouts

I am not a fan of brussels sprouts. But I know there are some people who love them (y’all are crazy because they’re nasty!). If you’re a brussels sprout lover look for some at your local farmer’s market in September!

Grapes

Grapes are also an amazing healthy snack! Locally grown grapes are AMAZING, so see if you can pick some up at your local farmer’s market.

Radicchio

I have never tried radicchio before, but I’m so excited to find it at the farmer’s market! I love trying out new fruits and vegetables especially when I have fun, new recipes to try out like this one for radicchio risotto!

Winter Squash

There are all kinds of varieties of winter squash that I find in my area starting in September. Spaghetti, acorn, and butternut squash seem to be the most popular around here, but keep an eye out for different kinds! And don’t forget pumpkins are a winter squash too! Check out this yummy recipe for pumpkin bread!

 

Potatoes

I eat a lot of potatoes, especially if they’re fresh potatoes!!! I eat mashed potatoes almost every week and I love to make these southern style mashed potatoes you make in your instant pot!

Apples

I’ve said it before, but I love fresh apples! I always end up grabbing tons of apples when I go to the farmer’s market in September!

Apple Cider

Since I love apples so much, I’m always on the hunt for some good apple cider. In my area there is an amazing local company that makes AWESOME apple cider from their freshly grown apples. It’s not cheap (I’ve seen it as high as $8 a gallon) but I’m obsessed with it. I highly recommend that you look for local apple cider producers in September! It’s the perfect fall drink and it’s even better if it’s bought locally!

What products are you excited to find at the farmer’s market this month? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

9 Genius Time Saving Gardening Tips for Uber Busy People

Do you want to garden, but you just don’t have enough time for it? I’m with you.


To be honest with you, after working 40 hours a week, the last thing I want to do is garden. So there’s been many years when I just haven’t planted a garden. I decided that since I’m one who doesn’t have a lot of time for a garden, there’s probably more people out there who need some help on how to get started on a garden without a lot of time.


Here are my tips on how to garden when you don’t have a lot of time


1. Start out small
2. Take it slow
3. Start with container gardening
4. Choose foods that you like
5. Choose easy plants to grow
6. Plan out your garden ahead of time
7. Use a soaker hose
8. Participate in a community garden


My first tip is to start out small.

 

Don’t try and tear up half your yard and plant a massive garden. Just because you saw a beautiful huge garden design on pinterest, doesn’t mean that’s what is right for you! I always recommend starting out small and maybe just trying a couple of plants at a time. You don’t want to create a massive backyard garden and then realize you actually don’t enjoy gardening at all! I normally suggest that you just choose a small area of your yard to plant a garden in and try it out for a year. If it works out and you love it, then you can get a little bigger the next year. Having a large garden is A LOT of work and it requires a time commitment so you don’t want to get yourself into too so much that it ends up stressing you out!

New to small space gardening? Here's 3 Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing Ideas for beginner gardeners!

Take it slow


Along the same lines as my last tip, if you don’t have a lot of time you need to take it slow. I suggest starting small and then slowly increasing your garden size each year. You don’t want to jump into a huge garden too quickly because you’ll likely end up getting pretty stressed which is not what gardening is supposed to do! I use gardening as a way to relieve my stress and spend some time outdoors, but I also know how much I can handle and I don’t try and do too much.


Start with container gardening

 

Container gardening is a great way to garden that’s easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. You can start with container gardening and then branch out as you get more time to garden!
Check out this how to guide with 35 of the easiest plants you can grow in a pot or container. This post gives some great information on what plants you can grow in a container and what you will need to be successful at container gardening. Also for my apartment dwellers, check out this how to guide on how to grow plants in your windowsill. It’s easy and you don’t even have to leave your house or your apartment!


Start out with an herb garden


So I love herbs and they are some of my favorite plants to grow because they’re pretty easy and incredibly useful. There are TONS of diy herb gardens out there that you can make and I love this guide that has tons of different diy herb gardens you can choose from.

Choose foods that you like


Trust me, when you don’t have a lot of time you want to choose to grow plants that produce vegetables or fruit that you actually like. Especially when you are just starting out you don’t want to plant jicama (it’s a really good, but also a fairly unknown vegetable, at least in my area) when you have no idea what to do with it. And if you grow things you don’t like you’re less likely to enjoy gardening and you’ll get discouraged. Before you plant something in your garden you should know how you’re going to use it! Look up a couple of recipes that use that vegetable that look good to you, so you know how you’re going to use it once you’ve grown it. Don’t waste time planting vegetables or fruits that you don’t like and won’t use!

Choose the easy plants

 

I HIGHLY recommend that especially for beginners you start out with the easy plants. They’re a little bit more forgiving, of potential mistakes and if you don’t have a lot of time it’s very easy to make mistakes (like forgetting to water for a long time) Some of my favorite easy plants to grow are:
Cucumbers:
Green Beans
Peas
Tomatoes
Mint
Zucchini: Seriously you can’t get these things to STOP producing. You’ll have more zucchini than you know what to do with
Summer Squash: Same with summer squash. It grows like CRAZY
Bell Peppers
Spinach


The Tower Garden has an amazing how to guide to help you choose plants, and seeds that will work best for your garden and are easy to grow. Check it out here


Plan out your garden ahead of time


Trust me. If you don’t plan out your garden you’ll probably regret it. You might think that you’re saving time by not planning, but when you realize you planted your tomatoes directly in the shade of a tree you’ll wish you had. Plant your plants in the right spot! Look up the sun and water requirements for each plant and then plant accordingly. Put low water plants together and full sun plants together. You’ll save yourself tons of time watering when all of your plants that need a lot of water are together, and all of your low water plants are together. It makes things simpler, easier, and faster.


Use a soaker hose


I LOVE soaker hoses. Once they’re set up in your garden they will save you so much time because you can just leave them on and let your garden to soak. Beats watering with a watering can am I right? I also feel like using a soaker hose is WAY more effective and saves water.


Get the right tools


So I normally keep things pretty simple here at the homestead, but there are some new, fancy homesteading and gardening tools that are huge time savers. I highly recommend a no kink hose (like this one) because getting kinks out of a 100 ft long hose is a pain! So look around and find the best tools that will work for your garden, and save you the most time! Also a great tool you can use are self watering containers. Check out these amazing diy self watering containers! If you’re anything like me, you forget to water your plants A LOT. So I love these diy self watering containers because they save tons of time and prevent me from accidentally killing my plants.


Find (or create) a community garden

 

Personally, I think community gardens are a huge timesaver. The work of gardening is divided up among a bunch of people, so there’s less work for everyone involved. Which is a HUGE timesaver. Look around your community and see if there is a community garden near you that you can participate in. Or see if some of your neighbors would be willing to help you create one!

Go to your closest farmers market

 

Ok so I understand that for some of us there just isn’t enough time in the day for gardening. And that’s ok! One of my favorite gardening alternatives are farmers markets or farm shares. You can head to your local farmers market and pick up some amazing fruits and vegetables that are delicious and fresh! I also suggest that you contact local farmers and see if they do farm shares. There are several farms in my area that do farm shares and they are awesome! Basically with most farm shares you pay a certain amount up front and then you pick up certain fruits and vegetables each week. I LOVE farm shares because they’re a great way to support local farmers and you get to try out different yummy fruits and vegetables each week!

Do you need some extra help getting started with your garden? Check out my book all about backyard gardening!

Are you a really busy person? How do you make time for gardening? Help me out and share your time-saving gardening tips in the comments below!

It’s June…Here’s 17 Vegetables You Can Still Plant For a Full Fall Harvest!

It maybe June (can you believe we’re halfway through the year?), but there’s still plenty you can plant for a late summer/fall harvest!

 

(This is an excerpt from my #1 Amazon Bestselling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. If you want a great resource to help you grow everything listed below, grab it on Amazon right here!)

 

Believe me when I say that there’s veggies on this list I’ll be planting myself – I just cleaned out the greenhouses, spread rabbit manure to add nutrients to the soil, and I’ll be planting some beans, beets, and greens I hope to overwinter!

 

Even if you haven’t started your garden, don’t despair – there’s still plenty of time!

 

Here’s 17 plants you can still start this month!

 

Beans

Lots of varieties love the warmer weather! You can harvest some varieties in as little as 45 days. In hotter areas, stick with bush varieties to conserve water. Direct sow every two weeks for a continued harvest well into fall. Plant 10-15 plants per person in your family.

 

Beets

You can grow beets for either the roots or the greens. Direct sow in the soil now, and they’ll be ready to harvest in 45-60 days. Pickle them to preserve them!

 

Bok Choy

I love bok choy because it’s mild (aka not bitter), you can harvest it when it’s still young for a super nutritious addition to any sandwich or salad.

 

Broccoli

While you might not connect broccoli with something you should grow in June, especially in climates with a shorter growing season, you can start it now so it’s ready to harvest when the nights start to dip below 50 degrees.

 

Cabbage

If you plant cabbage now, you can harvest well into cooler weather (cabbage loves lower temperatures!) It takes a bit of time to grow big enough for harvest, so make sure it has a dedicated space you won’t need for anything else.

 

Calendula (C. officinalis)

This medicinal herb/flower can be used for so many purposes, from giving chickens golden egg yolks to creating healing salves for your family. Direct sow, and seeds will germinate in about 2 weeks.

 

Carrots

If you start your carrots now, you can still get an early fall crop – and they can hang out in the garden well into late fall.

 

Corn

Corn grows fairly quickly, but it needs full sun and lots of water. You can harvest it in as little as 70 days if you choose a fast-maturing variety. If you want to harvest enough for your whole family, plan on 12 – 15 ears per person.

 

Cucumbers

Consider bush cucumbers to save space and water. You can harvest them when they’re small for sweet pickles.

 

Eggplant

Eggplant loves heat, and you can see purple eggplants starting to form in as little as 60 days. Choose a fast-growing variety. If your family loves eggplant, you should plan on 3 plants per person.

 

Herbs

There’s plenty of herbs you can start right now, including:

 

  • Basil (grow several plants for a winter full of pesto)
  • Oregano (Greek oregano has great, large leaves)
  • Thyme
  • Sage (grow 7-10 plants for smudge sticks)
  • Dill (grow 3-4 plants for leaves, 10 or more for dill seed for pickling)
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Lavender

 

You can plant herbs outside or in pots so you can bring them in at the end of season. Remember you will need time to dry them – so don’t plant too many and get overwhelmed.

 

Melons

Now is a great time to start watermelons and cantaloupe! Plan on 3 – 4 plants per person in your family.

 

Peas

Count on 20 plants per person.

 

Squash

Squash loves heat, and will grow quickly in the higher temperatures. Yellow summer squash is a great variety, as are gourd varieties.

 

Sunflowers

You can let them go to seed for a healthy snack or harvest them for cut flowers.

 

Swiss Chard

Perfect if you have a shady spot in your garden, which will help the leaves from bolting and becoming bitter.

 

Turnips

Plant for greens and/or the roots. You will be able to harvest them long into the fall.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What are you planting right now? Leave a comment below!