If you plan on a harvest of peas this fall, better get them in this weekend. Most snap peas on the market, not counting the new Park's Sugar Bon, which is an early variety, take about 70 days to mature. If you give them a good overnight soaking and get them in this weekend, or next at the latest, you'll be sure to harvest some before a hard frost hits in November. Peas will withstand light frost.
Wando (65 days) is a popular variety, widely available by the pound at garden and hardware stores. But the earliest that I have found is Alaska, a very nice pea with unusually large pods filled with fat peas. This one matures in just 52 days, so it can go in anytime beteeen now and the end of the month.
This is the week that I really plant. I know it's difficult, because there's so much to harvest also. But most of what you planted for the summer harvest isn't demanding too much maintenance, except, of course, picking. So there should be enough time to turn over a row or two every few days, or several each weekend for the next two or three weekends.
In August you can plant summer squash (50 to 60 days), cucumbers (60 to 70 days), beans (50 to 70 days) and brassicas, generally available as plants from nurseries. The squash, cukes and beans do not tolerate cold weather very well, so pay attention to the number of days to maturity when you put them in. Brassicas and peas will do fine in quite cold weather,including mild frost.
Other brave, cold-tolerant vegetables that can go in this month include root crops: potatoes, turnips, beets, rutabagas and parsnips. Carrots can also go in now, but they're so slow in germinating that you may not get a good crop out of an August planting unless your garden is very well protected and you intend to harvest your carrots after mid- November. The catalogues say carrots mature in 70 to 80 days, but I've found it safe to add a good 14 days to that estimate.
Lettuce, I find, is tastier when grown as a fall crop than as a spring crop. I never seem to get my spring lettuce in early enough to get a really good stand before it bolts. That won't happen if you put it in during August. With a few safeguards, you can harvest lettuce easily through the first severe frost.
Finding space in the garden for these fall crops can be a problem. Obviously, if your summer squash and cukes are doing fine and you've eaten and canned as much as you plan to, you won't want to mess with these as fall crops. In my garden, the summmer squash is pretty much done now -- done in, that is, by squash borers. So, after picking all the fruit, I have pulled up all the wilted plants and dug out the stem and root. Now I have a place to put in new plants as soon as they are ready, which should be in about a week. By this time, the squash borers that were hanging around will be gone, and, as a precautionary measure, I will sprinkle a little rotenone around the hole. One big advantage of planting squash late is that you can generally avoid the borers, a constant headache in my garden. You can also plant squash from seed in August.
I never got around to planting my French cornichon this spring, so these too will go in now, against a fence so they can be trained and the finger-size cukes can be picked easily -- a must for true French cornichon since they can get fat and misshapen in just a day or two.
I have pulled all my spring-planted broccoli and cauliflower and cleared the beds to receive the August plants. Cabbage will come out this week and will be turned into sauerkraut. I have left the Brussels sprouts in, but I will put some more in because I have not been pleased with the summer crop, and I hope my fall crop will look better. They tend to enjoy a good frost, which will also tenderize the sprouts.
The beans I planted in late spring are finished, so they've been pulled; in the same row I'll have space for my fall crop of peas. Because I'll be picking beans for several weeks yet, I don't intend to put in any for fall.
The bed where I had planted my lettuce and spinach in the spring has gone pretty much unused for a month or more. I know this is a bad habit to get into -- I try to use every foot of the garden all through the season -- but now I'm rather pleased because I have plenty of space for fall spinach and lettuce crops.
So I've got enough room for just about everything I want for the fall. If you look around, you too will undoubtedly find space for a few fall vegetables. SMELLING LIKE ROSES: Stop feeding your rosebushes now, and don't clip blooms from now on. If you continue feeding and clipping, the bush will think it's supposed to go on growing; then you'll be in trouble in the winter, when rosebushes must be quite dormant to survive. Also, don't do any pruning. Just leave your rosebushes alone -- except for enough watering to keep them looking healthy -- until late fall, when you will mulch if you are good to your roses.