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There's still time to plant veggies

If your garden is running low on some of your favorites, don't fret! There is still plenty of time to plant vegetables for a fall harvest. In Alexandria, our average first frost date falls roughly around October 1, which leaves us a good 45 days to get things growing. Add to this some frost resistant plants, and you can have a wealth of late summer garden choices!

Beets, some varieties of cabbage, kale and collard greens are the hardiest to plant, surviving temperatures into the 20s. They mature in 40-70 days.

Kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips all have some frost tolerance. They also mature rapidly, anywhere from 30 to 60 days.

Carrots and radishes can be harvested up until the ground freezes, so don't be in a hurry to clean up these garden beds in the fall.

Before sowing these second crops, turn over the soil and mix in some balanced fertilizer to replace what earlier plants have used up. Left-over debris like stems or roots from the first planting can cause problems in seed germination if they aren't removed.

You can also extend your growing season with floating row covers and low tunnels. Various weights of garden fabrics are available. (Remay and Agribon are two popular varieties.) Made of polyester or polypropylene, the heaviest row covers provide protection to 28 degrees while allowing sunlight, water and air to pass through.

Low tunnels use hoops made of ½-inch PVC or electrical conduit to support the row cover over the plants, and offer a very flexible low-cost way to provide a protected growing environment. These structures can extend the fall and winter harvest season for greens and with the right succession planting schedule offer earlier harvests in the spring.

Contact University of Minnesota Extension, Douglas County, 320-762-3890, for additional resources on season extension and late season vegetables.

The Extension Office will be closed during the week of August 14, during the Douglas County Fair. Visit the Ask a Master Gardener booth for answers to all your gardening questions.

Until next time, happy gardening!

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