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In pictures: Seven reasons to start digging in the garden again

The planting season is over for some vegetables, but there are many edibles that flourish when sown at this time of year. The best of the fall crop

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Arugula

Sown in early summer, arugula is typically bugged by flea beetles that eat holes in the leaves. But by late summer or early fall, the beetles have completed their life cycle, leaving the arugula leaves looking their salad best. Biggs likes to wilt the arugula in a pot of hot pasta, along with brie, garlic, fresh cherry tomatoes and basil drizzled with a little olive oil.

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Beets

“The trick with beets is to plant a fast-maturing variety that will yield a crop in about 50 days, when they’ll be the right size for pickling,” says Steven Biggs, Canadian co-author of No Guff Vegetable Gardening. Linda Crago, of Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm in Ontario’s Niagara region, recommends Early Wonder Tall Top and Cylindra early-maturing varieties. As the seedlings grow, thin them out to about eight centimetres apart. Use the sprouts as a garnish on fish and enjoy their intense flavour.

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Endives and escarole

These leafy greens, as well as leaf lettuces, benefit from the shade cast by tomato plants, and make use of an otherwise unused spot in the garden. When started in spring, endive and escarole can taste a bit bitter; midsummer sowing produces a milder flavour. Snip baby leaf lettuces for salads and they’ll regrow.

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Rapini

This broccoli look-alike is a turnip relative that hates hot weather, which causes it to bolt (produce flowers and seed before it matures). After sowing in midsummer, it will mature during the cool days of autumn. Rich in vitamins and minerals, use rapini in stir-fry recipes or sauté with garlic and olive oil and add to pasta with a squeeze of lemon.

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Turnips and rutabagas

You can eat the greens that, according to Biggs, taste a little like kale (he likes to toss cooked leaves with sour cream and bacon). He harvests leaves from young plants or from the ones that have been thinned out, which are more tender than those from mature plants. For a late-fall crop, thin seedlings when they’re about eight centimetres tall to about 15 to 20 centimetres apart.

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