Plant for a Winter Harvest in Albuquerque: There’s Still Time

By Shannon Hudson

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Shannon Hudson is passionate about urban gardening in the Burque.

Are you the type of person that says “I can’t even keep a succulent alive?” or “I kill every plant I’ve tried to grow?”

It’s okay. No one is here to judge. I’m here to tell you that the assumption of your black thumb is actually not true. If you want a beautiful garden , especially in Albuquerque, I can help you to make that dream a reality! If you commit to a watering schedule, it’s hard to fail in our sunny state. Buying organic compost or starting your own is a fantastic way to add nutrients to soil that needs some work.

Now, you might see other urban-Burqueno gardeners harvesting a whole lot at the moment: Tomatoes, Chile , squash , etc. Yes! Whoohoo!! We love to celebrate urban gardeners in their successes . It means they’ve been working long summer hours to achieve their harvest .

“Some require such little care, you’ll forget they were there!”

If you feel like you’re a little late to the party on the planting , fear not!  You too can enjoy a winter harvest fit for the gods! In Albuquerque, we are in gardening zones 7a and b. The first frost is typically around Halloween, but can be later, which gives us a while to still plant the winter herbs and veggies we love. Some require such little care, you’ll forget they were there! (Really though, I once forgot I planted rutabaga and couldn’t get them out of the ground they got so huge.)

Tuber veggies such as beets, carrots, rutabaga, radishes and turnips do outstandingly in the cooler weather . Plant them now in your garden to get a delightful Thanksgiving harvest. Turnips and rutabaga will actually get a sweeter taste after the first freeze, and can remain in the cold ground for a good amount of time. Roasting them with olive oil, sea salt and pepper is an amazing and healthy side dish. You can also put them in a stew for a delicious cold weather meal.

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Hudson’s doggo relaxing in her backyard garden.

“Look for the quick maturity varieties, and you’ll be eating yummy fresh salads into November.”

Other cool weather crops include kale, spinach, Swiss  chard , cabbage , Brussels sprouts and lettuce . These too, actually get sweeter in taste with the cooler weather. The heat of our desert summers can turn leafy greens bitter, making our lovely and temperate falls a better growing environment for them. Seeds for things such as lettuce, which ca n still be planted into October, can still be found at local gardening hot stops like Jericho Nursery! Look for the quick maturity varieties, and you’ll be eating yummy fresh salads into November.

There are still roughly 7-8 weeks until our typical first frost which means —— you can still successfully plant quite a few outdoor herbs! Cilantro , mint , parsley, dill , and fennel may all produce a successful fall harvest if planted now . Try and plant them in a space with a lot of sunshine, so for when it does get cooler, they still get that nice bit of warmth. Herbs do amazingly in pots, and can also be brought inside and set in a sunny window when it gets too cold.

Another nice part about starting a fall garden is that, as the weather cools, the amount of water required for a successful garden becomes less and less. Typically, you’ll have to water 2-3 times weekly as temps drop below 85.  Lots of gardeners use cold frames to protect from frost, but empty plastic bins can also protect plants from colder weather.

Shannon Hudson is an expert in urban gardening and Grey Wolf contributor. Look out for more earthy tales from her! Hudson can be reached at greywolfpublications@gmail.com.

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