Second Season Gardens

Clean up that ragged summer garden and plant again. Crops will be ready for your Thanksgiving table.

Try these seed or plants in the late season or second season garden.

What to Plant – Aromatic herb seeds that have enough time to grow are: dill, chervil, cilantro, arugula.

Late season vegetables include: Bulbing Fennel, Kale, Pak Choi, Beets, Bush beans, Lettuce or Mesclun Mixes, Spinach and Carrots. Later sown carrots will mature in fall and become sweeter when they are touched by the first frost. And, one of my fall favorites: turnips.

When to Plant
– Bill McKelvey from the Departme
nt of Rural Sociology and Program associate with the Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture Program gives this example: Let’s say you would like to grow green beans in the fall. Green beans take approximately 60 days to mature and are relatively sensitive to frost. This means that to ensure an adequate harvest, you would need to plant your green beans at least 60 days before the average first frost date for your area. In mid-Missouri, October 15 is the average first frost date. So, by counting back 60 days from October 15, you would arrive at August 15. To provide a measure of comfort, you might decide to plant your green beans a little earlier, say around August 1.

Community gardening advocate Bill McKelvey, aka “Mr. Green Genes,” said “Fall gardening involves planting cool season vegetables in mid- to late summer and early fall for a fall to early winter harvest.”Good fall crops include lettuce, radishes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, garlic, beets and chard.”

“In addition to producing great-tasting food”, McKelvey said “fall gardening extends the growing season, provides extra leisurely time in the garden and helps us to better appreciate our place within nature.”

One of the best Vegetable Planting Calendars is from
the University of Missouri Extension.


One of my fall favorites: turnips.

Turnip seeds should be planted ¼-½ inch deep and thinned when plants have 3-4 true leaves. Crusting soils will limit seedling emergence and affect plant stands.

Turnips do not compete well with weeds. So, it is easier for me to keep the turnip patch weeded if I plant in rows in stead of broadcast the seeds. High summer temperatures reduce growth, decrease quality, and cause a bitter flavor to develop if plants are not watered properly. This bitterness is why turnips are not a popular vegetable.

Don’t judge a vegetable by your grocery store purchases. The smaller, less pithy turnips that have been well watered, grow fast and are not bitter. Really.

Turnips tolerate light frosts. Gradually thin the seedlings to 4 inches apart, and wait until a light frost sweetens the leaves before eating them. They can be harvested any time after they reach 2″ in diameter. The pride of uncle Will’s garden are giant vegetables. He grows turnips that are as big as a soccer ball. I prefer base ball sized turnips, and will not buy turnips that are bigger than a softball. Those 2″ diameter turnips can be cleaned and coked whole like new potatoes.

As Ruth Stout, the celebrated proponent of no-till mulch gardening put it,If you plant a good turnip seed properly a turnip is what you will get every single time.”

Turnip greens – Turnip tops are nutritious and often eaten as cooked greens. Certain cultivars – such as ‘Shogoin’ – are grown exclusively for greens. Other cultivars provide both greens and roots, such as ‘Purple Top,’ ‘White Globe,’ ‘Just Right’ and ‘Tokyo’. Turnip greens are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid. Pick them and eat the greens when they are small, say, about the size of your hand. Again, you may say you hate turnip greens, only because you have been subjected to those huge, hairy, bitter leaves sold at supermarkets. Fix greens the same way you prepare spinach, or mix turnip greens with spinach in any recipe.

Try small, fresh from the garden turnip greens and turnips. You may change your mind about this vegetable that has fed mankind since prehistoric times.

July 26, 1948
“Turnip Day” Session

President Harry Truman was desperate. With fewer than four months remaining before election day, his public approval rating stood at only 36 percent. Two years earlier, Congress had come under Republican control for the first time in a quarter century. His opponent, New York Governor Thomas Dewey, seemed already to be planning his own move to the White House. In search of a bold political gesture, the president turned to the provision in the Constitution that allows the president “on extraordinary occasions” to convene one or both Houses of Congress.

On 27 occasions, presidents have called both houses into extraordinary session to deal with urgent matters of war and economic crisis. The most recent of these extraordinary sessions convened in July 1948.

On July 15, several weeks after the Republican-controlled Congress had adjourned for the year leaving much business unfinished, Truman took the unprecedented step of using his presidential nomination acceptance speech to call both houses back into session. He delivered that speech under particularly trying circumstances. Without air conditioning, delegates sweltered in the Philadelphia convention hall’s oven-like atmosphere. By the time the president finally stepped before the cameras in this first televised Democratic convention, organizers had lost all hope of controlling the schedule.

At 1:45 in the morning, speaking only from an outline, Truman quickly electrified the soggy delegates. In announcing the special session, he challenged the Republican majority to live up to the pledges of their own recently concluded convention to pass laws to ensure civil rights, extend Social Security coverage, and establish a national health-care program. “They can do this job in 15 days, if they want to do it.” he challenged. That two-week session would begin on “what we in Missouri call ‘Turnip Day,'” taken from the old Missouri saying, “On the twenty-fifth of July, sow your turnips, wet or dry.”

Republican senators reacted scornfully. To Michigan’s Arthur Vandenberg, it sounded like “a last hysterical gasp of an expiring administration.” Yet, Vandenberg and other senior Senate Republicans urged action on a few measures to solidify certain vital voting blocs. “No!” exclaimed Republican Policy Committee chairman Robert Taft of Ohio. “We’re not going to give that fellow anything.” Charging Truman with abuse of a presidential prerogative, Taft blocked all legislative action during the futile session. By doing this, Taft amplified Truman’s case against the “Do-nothing Eightieth Congress” and contributed to his astounding November come-from-behind victory.
Reference Items:
Hamby, Alonzo L. Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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