steve barlowMIDDLETOWN, NJ - In late summer and early September when the outdoor markets and home gardens are bursting with tomatoes, peppers and melons, it can make you forget that autumn and early winter can also  be as fruitful as the spring and summer seasons.  You can have a second season of growth but must choose appropriate crops, enriched soil and provide adequate water.


You can replace your lettuces, peas and brassicas (broccoli and all of its relatives) with new plantings that will take off quickly in a soil that has been warmed by the summer’s sun while the cooler nights will be appreciated.

Lower temperatures will produce crisp lettuces without bolting.  Kale, Brussel sprouts and cabbages will be sweeter while the carrots, beets and turnips will also thrive.  Greens and root vegetables are the stars of the second planting so zero in on hardy fall varieties of chard, spinach, lettuces, arugula and chard  for greens and beets, carrots, turnips, radishes and rutabagas as your root veggies.  Pick your favorite and go for it.

You can extend your fall harvest by shielding plants from hard freezes.  Use the simple method of blanketing low-growing plants with a thick layer of straw or leaves (pull to side during the day) or by using a clear plastic tarp or a floating row cover.  Going one step further, you can make or purchase a simple cold frame and use a birdbath heater to warm it.  You will begin to see that your garden’s useful time is not over at the end of the summer.

In addition to your vegetable garden, most home gardeners look at the fall as a time to plant more flower bulbs, and so it was that the September meeting of the Garden Club R.F.D. had Hans Langeveld, co-owner of Longfield Gardens in Lakewood,  present a program centering on bulbs grown in Holland.

The next meeting of Garden Club R.F.D., on October 18th, will take place at the Middletown Arts Center with a program at 11a.m. that is open to the public.  It will be presented by Steve Barlow III, owner of Barlow’s Garden Center in Sea Girt.  The topic is Gardening 101 and will cover how to divide perennials, designing, planting and insect and disease prevention.  Join us for this interesting meeting for a nominal fee of $5.00 for non-members, and take a chance on one of the gift baskets to be raffled off.  

Meet our members who live in Middletown and the surrounding communities of Holmdel, Monroe, Highlands, Red Bank, Freehold, Tinton Falls and Rumson.  Our meetings cover various aspects of gardening as well as flower design.  

Contact membership chair, Nancy Canade, at (973) 452-4846, to learn more about the program and about Garden Club R.F.D.  Also, check out our Facebook page, “Garden Club RFD”, where you can view Steve Barlow demonstrating some techniques for the garden.