Cooking Greens to Harvest in Central Virginia in October
Beet greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chard, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, komatsuna, Maruba Santoh, pak choy, senposai, spinach, tatsoi, Tokyo Bekana turnip greens and Yukina savoy can be available here all month (and perhaps longer, depending on the temperature). OP Yukina Savoy seems more cold-hardy and bolt-resistant than the hybrid Koji.
The new outdoor greens this month are tatsoi, kale, spinach, collards, and mizuna (if we have that outdoors).
Eat-All Greens harvests can start, if you sowed some last month. When we sowed some on September 16, we got two harvests in October and several in November.
From the hoophouse we start to harvest spinach, tatsoi, and leaves of Tokyo bekana.
Cooking Greens to Sow in Central Virginia in October
This month we finish sowing spinach and kale for overwintering outdoors (10/30 is our last chance). No more outdoor sowings until spring!
On October 10, we sow Brassica fillers #1. These are short rows of senposai, Tokyo bekana, Yukina Savoy, Maruba Santoh, to use to fill gaps later during the winter as soon as they occur. We simply dig them up, replant where needed and water well. Alternatively you could keep some plug flats of these plants handy. Bare-root transplanting is much easier than many fear.
During December we use the “Filler” greens plants to replace casualties and harvested heads of Tokyo bekana, Maruba Santoh, Chinese cabbage, Pak choy, Yukina Savoy and tatsoi daily. We stop filling gaps in these early harvest crops on December 25, as they will bolt in the hoophouse conditions in January at the latest.
We continue to fill gaps elsewhere with senposai until January 25. Asian greens don’t make good growth before bolting if transplanted after January 25. From January 25 to February 20 we fill all gaps everywhere with spinach transplants
Hoophouse Bed preparation and Planting
In the hoophouse we have a lot of bed preparation (all the beds except the Early Bed which we plant in September), as well as transplanting and sowing.
On October 14, we sow turnips #1: Red Round (1 row on North), Hakurei (2 rows South). Oasis, White Egg.
On October 20, we sow Filler Greens #2.
By October 23, we clear and prepare two more beds and sow spinach #2; tatsoi #2, turnips #2, chard #2 and perhaps Frills (Frilly Mustards) #1.5.
Brassica (Mustard) Salad Mix
Interesting mustard mixes are sold for salad mixes. We often mix our own Brassica Salad Mix from leftover random brassica seeds. For a single cut, almost all brassicas are suitable – just avoid turnips and radishes with prickly leaves! We sow between October 2 and November 14 for harvests during the winter, and from December 4 to February 12 for March and early April harvests.
We could, but so far we haven’t, sow Eat-All Greens in hoophouse in October.
Useful if a crop fails, or you have an empty space. Don’t delay, as rates of growth slow down as the temperatures and daylight decrease. Don’t expect much from sowings during the Persephone Days (less than 10 hours daylight).
This year we grew an early catch crop of Tokyo bekana when we realized we had space that wouldn’t be needed till mid-October (for turnips). We direct sowed it August 28, weeded and thinned to 1” (2.5 cm) on September 5; weeded and thinned to 3” (7.5 cm) on September 16, using the small plants for salad. We need to clear this crop by the middle of October to sow the turnips, and the Tokyo bekana has got to a fine size.
- Ready in 30–35 days in fall, longer in winter: brassica salad mixes, spinach, chard, salad greens (lettuce, endives, chicories), winter purslane., kale, arugula, radishes (the fast small ones and the larger winter ones), many Asian greens: Komatsuna, Maruba Santoh, mizuna, frilly mustards, Senposai, tatsoi, Tokyo Bekana and Yukina Savoy.
- Ready in 35–45 days in fall: corn salad, land cress, sorrel, parsley and chervil.
- Ready in 60 days in fall: beets, collards, kohlrabi, turnips
Cooking Greens to Transplant in Central Virginia in October
In our hoophouse in early October, we transplant Tokyo Bekana, Chinese cabbage, Pak choy, Yukina savoy #1, using plants which we sowed outside under insect netting.
By October 13, we transplant chard #1, Frills #1, and Red and White Russian kales, from our outdoor nursery seedbed.
By October 21, we clear and prepare another bed and transplant 1/2 bed kale, plus Yukina Savoy, and frilly mustards. (This is our favorite crop selection to suppress nematodes),
By October 23, we clear and prepare two more beds and transplant senposai and Yukina Savoy #2 from the outdoor nursery bed.
Other Cooking Greens Tasks in Central Virginia in October
October is our month to weed and thin the fall crops in the outdoor raised beds, especially spinach and kale. We thin kale to 12” (30 cm); perhaps more space would be better, although Vates is a dwarf variety.
We put rowcover over any beds of pak choy, Chinese cabbage or Tokyo bekana we have that year. Later we weed (again!) and cover the spinach for faster growth, but leave the kale uncovered after a bad experience of Vates kale with rowcover fibers mixed in. The cooks didn’t love us!
We prefer to wait to cover spinach after frosts kill the galinsoga. As well as raised beds, we plant spinach in our cold frames, making good use of the space until the frames are needed in spring for hardening off transplants.
We roll, label and store drip tape from the fall broccoli and cabbage
Special Cooking Greens Topic for October: Get Soil Tests; Be Ready for Cold Nights.
October is a good month to do soil tests, when the soil is not too wet, and the soil temperatures are still warm (the soil life is active).
We use Wunderground, but subtract 5F° from their forecast night lows for our nearest town, and mentally downgrade the chance of rain by 10%, as rain often passes us by as it scoots along the river valley north of us.
See Weatherspark.com for the typical ranges of weather in your area:
Frost is more likely at Twin Oaks if:
- The date is after 10/14 or before 4/30 (our average first and last frost dates).
- The Wunderground forecast low for Louisa Northside is 37°F (3°C) or less.
- The daytime high temperature was less than 70°F (21°C).
- The temperature at sunset is less than 50°F (10°C).
- The sky is clear.
- The soil is dry and cool.
- The moon is full or new (maybe to do with tides and gravity?).
- If temperatures are falling fast, the wind is from NW and the sky is clear, then polar air may be moving in, and we’ll get a hard freeze.
- The dew point forecast is low, close to freezing. Frost is unlikely if the dew point is 43°F or more.
Watch for cold night temperatures and decide which crops to harvest, which to cover, which to abandon:
In a double-layer hoophouse (8F/5C warmer than outside) plants can survive 14F/8C colder than outside, without extra rowcover; with thick rowcover (1.25 ozTypar/Xavan) plants can survive at least 21F/12C colder than outside.
Each winter I update my Winter-kill Temperatures of Cold-Hardy Vegetables.
Here are some early winter numbers for killing temperatures outdoors (without rowcover unless otherwise stated). Your results may vary! Let me know!
35°F (2°C): Basil.
32°F (0°C): Beans, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, okra, peppers, tomatoes.
27°F (–3°C): Many cabbage, Sugarloaf chicory.
25°F (–4°C): Some cabbage, chervil, chicory roots for chicons and hearts, Chinese Napa cabbage, dill, endive, some fava beans, annual fennel, some Asian greens (Maruba Santoh, mizuna, most pak choy, Tokyo Bekana), some onion scallions (many varieties are hardier), radicchio.
22°F (–6°C): Some arugula (some varieties are hardier), Bright Lights chard, large leaves of lettuce (protected hearts and small plants will survive colder temperatures), rhubarb stems.
20°F (–7°C): Some beets, broccoli heads (some may be OK to 15°F/-9°C), Brussels sprouts, some cabbages (the insides may still be good even if the outer leaves are damaged), celeriac, celtuce (stem lettuce), some head lettuce, some mustards/Asian greens, flat leaf parsley (curly parsley is hardier), radishes, most turnips.
15°F (–9.5°C): Some beets, beet greens, some broccoli, some cabbage, rowcovered celery, red chard (green chard is hardy to 12°F (-11°C)), cilantro, endive, some fava beans, Russian kales, kohlrabi, some lettuce, especially medium-sized plants with 4-10 leaves, curly parsley, rutabagas if not covered, broad leaf sorrel, turnip leaves, most covered turnips, winter cress.