It's not too late to plant your veggies

VANCE LEHMKUHL / FOR THE DAILY NEWS Beautiful , colorful radishes - so what if they're store-bought to make a better picture? When mine grow, they'll look just like these.
VANCE LEHMKUHL / FOR THE DAILY NEWS Beautiful , colorful radishes - so what if they're store-bought to make a better picture? When mine grow, they'll look just like these.
Posted: August 08, 2014

EVERYONE agrees on the value of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially locally sourced, and this is the time of year when farmers markets overflow with green beans, corn, tomatoes, blackberries and blueberries. Fully embracing the source of your food is natural for vegans. When not patronizing local farms, many of us grow our own.

For instance, in my own garden this year . . .

Omigod, that's right! I was so busy pontifica - er, educating - that I didn't get around to planting anything this spring. There's nothing in our three 6-by-6 raised beds but weeds. Oh man, is it too late?

I threw this question out to everyone I knew, including my lovely wife, Cynthia, who reminded me that we can still plant my favorite leafy green, kale, well into September. I took to Twitter and got a bushel of other suggestions - broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, herbs, radishes . . .

Radishes. I used to love them as a kid but I never seem to get them at the store these days. So, they're the perfect food to grow: Even if one can't live on radishes alone, they have proven benefits, such as enabling rude boys to burp most of the alphabet.

I persuaded Cynthia to help me get the garden back in shape for a late planting. In just a few weeks we can be feasting on radishes. And after that, kale.

The first thing we found: two "volunteers," dill and tomato, coming up in spite of our slackery. So, we've already got a head start on, well, some kind of tomato-dill salad. We worked around those and turned up the earth elsewhere. I just wanted to clear a couple of rows for radishes. Cynthia had acquired seeds for those, plus Swiss chard, spinach, fennel, cabbage, arugula, collards, parsley, mustard, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga and bok choy.

As for my favorite, "they were out of kale," she reported.

I muttered, "Damn hipsters."

Now she had me raking the dirt to level the growing field. "You don't want big clods on the surface," she noted. I remembered how, our first year, a footprint of about my shoe size remained in the middle of the bed through the growing season from one errant step back in the planting phase.

Next task was to dig out some compost and mix with wet potting soil. Our compost pile is somewhat haphazard. I came across shreds of a potato-chip bag - who the heck put that in there? - then I realized it was the infamous ultra-loud Sun Chips bag from 2010 that assaulted eardrums across America but was "100% compostable"! So far it was still vibrant colored and mostly intact, not something I wanted to add to the garden. I'll admit that it was no longer so loud.

Cynthia reminded me to place a little stick next to where each seedling would come up - right after I had gotten them all put in. I guesstimated. She chuckled and shook her head, then wound up doing the same thing. It's a tricky process.

One downside of starting plants in August is that the average rainfall is less than, say, in March, April or May, so be ready to keep the dirt moist (on sunny days, morning and/or evening, never midday). We lucked out in that it started raining as soon as we got everything in.

Looking out over the smooth soil beds filled with various potential after a hard day's work, we cracked a couple of cold ones and relished the coming bounty. The point, I realized, is to not give up, even when you think it might be too late.



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