This is the perfect time to plant spring lettuces, spinach, arugula, kale, peas, radishes and scallions. All of these plants are quick to grow and like the cool fall weather. You can plant head lettuces like cos (romaine), butterhead, or bibb, or a cutting mix that you can snip and thin as it grows. Some heads can be left room to mature.
If you are short on space pull out some of your older vegetables that have gone to seed, shovel in some compost to rejuvenate the soil, water lightly and plant your fall garden. Once you have tasted your own lettuce it is always a disagreeable shock to go back to store bought, so I keep lettuce and arugula going as long as possible, which means I am harvesting it well into October and sometimes November. Kale actually likes a bit of frost. Carrots planted last month will be served at Thanksgiving if I’m lucky.
Every year I say I am going to plant garlic but never have. Now that I am writing this piece, I am determined to do it this year. So do some research and we’ll plant garlic in the fall. More on that next month.
It’s a good time soon to start thinking about harvesting basil for the winter. I cut as much as I can, put the leaves in the food processor, and add some good olive oil through the feed tube as it blends. Stop adding oil when it is all smooth. Then pour into ice trays, freeze and keep in airtight containers or freezer bags. You have very manageable portions for cooking all winter. Another way to keep basil is to process with oil the same way, then pour it into a mason jar and cover the top with about ¼” olive oil and refrigerate. Basil stays green and flavorful for months as long as the air doesn’t touch it. Put more oil on top each time you use it so the basil stays fresh and green. Many other herbs can be chopped and frozen or dried, but basil is the only one I bother with because it’s not readily available in the markets in the winter and it’s so easy to keep this way. If you want to make pesto add the cheese, garlic and pine nuts later when you are ready to make it.