Despite drought, time to plant is now
A fall garden may thrive and save you money
RIVERWEST - Even after some cooler weather, 2012 continues to be the warmest year on record, and most of southeast Wisconsin continues to be under a severe drought. That may have you thinking now is not the time to plant vegetables, but that's exactly what some people are doing by planting a fall garden.
Jan Christensen, gardener and Community Organizer for the YMCA, tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka some of the vegetables didn't fare so well this summer, "These are little zucchini starts and I'm going to put a couple of those in as part of my fall planting. They didn't produce very well this year, so I'm going to try them as a cool weather crop."
Like many impacted by the drought, gardening this summer was a difficult task for Christensen, but now may actually be a better time to plant vegetables. Heading into fall, you don't have to fight Mother Nature like you do in the heat of the summer; cooler temperatures mean better growing conditions for many plants. "A fall garden is a really good idea because you'll be able to probably harvest, we'll harvest these things until the snow flies," Christensen explains.
The Executive Director of Milwaukee Urban Gardens, Bruce Wiggins, states vegetables like beets, cabbage, lettuce and peas don't take a long time to grow and mature. "Carrots, rutabagas, there's a whole variety of things that can be harvested way, way into the fall and some crops like collards are even sweeter in the fall after a first frost," Wiggins says. The average date of the first frost in Milwaukee is October 15th.
Even while we remain under a severe drought, gardeners like Wiggins still recommend planting now, "You do need to water, but go ahead and get started, the best time to get started gardening is now. We along with other groups like Victory Garden Initiative and UW-Extension do a variety of classes so there's no shortage of places and organizations that can help people if they want to."
Because with a little help, gardens like Wiggins' and Christensen's keep on giving. "Last year, not only did I harvest for Thanksgiving, but I had a hoop house and I harvested greens for New Years," Christensen explains.
And by digging down into the ground, planting may prevent your grocery bill from climbing sky high, Jan Christensen did a study with her own garden, "I doubled my money; I had $1000 worth of food from $500 worth investment."