Love to eat local during the holidays? Here are the plants you should grow next season for the optimum Thanksgiving harvest.
By C.L. Fornari
Nov 16 2016
Thanksgiving Harvest | What to Plant Next Year for Your Thanksgiving TablePhoto Credit : Thinkstock
If you’ve planted a selection of frost-hardy veggies you’re undoubtedly picking part or all of your Thanksgiving dinner out of the vegetable garden. But should your garden not be producing in late-November, here are the plants you should grow next season.
Many people think that once their first head of broccoli is cut they need to put the plants out of the garden. That’s a shame because in New England this vegetable will continue to produce enough broccoli for dinner from summer through December.
The key to continual broccoli harvest is the small, side shoots that are formed after the main head is cut. If these smaller heads are repeatedly cut and not allowed to open into the yellow flowers, you can pick enough broccoli for six people one or two times a week all season. And because this plant is so frost tolerant, those smaller side heads can be cut through Thanksgiving and beyond.
Be sure to keep your plants sprayed with Bt or Spinosad to organically fight the cabbage moth larvae, and clip off any yellow flowers that have gotten away from you. You’ll find that some of your late-harvest broccoli crowns are small while others can grow quite large.
Plant lettuce and arugula seeds every three or four weeks from spring through early September, and you’ll be cutting salad greens for Thanksgiving and beyond. Most lettuce and arugula tolerate frost. If you live in the northern most parts of New England you can protect these crops with a floating row cover available at garden centers. This light, non-woven fabric will add just enough insulation to allow your salad greens to grace the Thanksgiving table.
Those who sow carrot seeds in August will be able to pull fresh carrots as long as the ground isn’t frozen. For most of us, this means harvesting this root crop beyond New Year’s day! Carrots are the perfect crop to sow in the garden after the garlic is pulled in July.
Here’s a tip for your late-season carrot crop. Carefully space the seeds four inches apart so that you don’t have to thin the seedlings as they germinate. When carrots have spouted too closely together they won’t develop large roots. Many of us get busy as August rolls into September, and we might forget to thin the young plants. But if you’ve carefully spaced your seeds on planting, pulling out the too-closely-spaced excess isn’t necessary.
Whether you sow leek seeds in the spring or buy the partly grown leek starts from your garden center or online source, this is a problem free crop that pays off in the early winter months. Leeks sown in early summer will be able to be harvested as needed from October into January.
Forget buying onions for the dishes on your Thanksgiving table…your freshly picked leeks will be so much tastier!
If I could only grow one crop in my vegetable garden it would be Tuscan kale. Sometimes called Lacinato kale, or dinosaur kale, this plant has a mild, sweet flavor and keeps producing into January. The key to a long harvest of Tuscan kale is to cut the largest, older leaves and let the smaller top remain. The plants will grow taller and taller all summer, and you’ll be able to pick kale until the snow buries the plants.
A Thanksgiving meal made without fresh sage and parsley is unthinkable. These two herbs are simple to grow and both are at their peak in November. Plant young parsley plants every spring and grow sage as a perennial in any sunny garden.
Now that you know the Thanksgiving bounty you could be harvesting in late November, be sure to mark your calendar for May 2017. When you plant these crops in late May you’ll be thankful from summer into winter.