Fall Vegetable Gardening

So you’ve decided to do some fall vegetable gardening this year. Well, there are a few things you should know. You can in fact get certain crops going late in the regular growing season. In fact, some are really ideal for starting out late in the summer or very early fall, depending on where you happen to be living. Many crops thrive in the fall coolness and will take a frost or two and come back for more. Here is a short piece by Neil Sperry written for the Star- Telegram that gives a short primer on what to do for a great fall season, and how to protect your investment.

Fall Vegetable Gardening

Mid-August might not pop to mind as a prime planting time, but for several important vegetable crops and for three popular

fall vegetable gardening

Fall vegetable gardening extends the growing season and provides new crops to enjoy. Photo by Stockbyte c/o Photos.Com.

annual flowers, it’s their turn for the spotlight.

You’ll find the various “cole” crops at the top of the mid-August vegetable planting list. Cabbage is the most popular, but the list also includes broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. All thrive in fall’s cooler weather. In fact, all are capable of withstanding light freezes prior to harvest. But they need to be planted now.

The biggest challenge in growing these plants in the fall might actually be in finding the transplants. You’ll want fresh and vigorous plants of well-suited varieties, and your best chance of finding them now will probably be through local independent retail garden centers and feed stores.

Set the transplants into well-prepared garden soil. All of them will need 18 to 24 inches of space between plants within their rows, and the rows should be 36 to 42 inches apart to permit easy access. If you’re careful to select transplants that have been in full sun in the nursery, setting them into the garden now should present no problems. Plant them into small “wells” an inch or two deep to facilitate watering. Soak them every day for the first week or two, to allow them time to develop good roots.

Cabbage loopers are the bane of our spring cole crops. The larvae chew multitudes of holes in the leaves. They render cabbage useless as a leafy vegetable, and they weaken the growth and productivity of the other types. They’ll probably also find your fall plantings, so be on the lookout for the white butterflies that serve as your early warning signal. They seek the cole crops and lay their eggs on the leaves.

As soon as you see the horseshoe-shaped caterpillars starting to feed, apply the biological worm control Bacillus thuringiensis, known more commonly simply by its initials, “B.t.” It’s available as a dust or a spray, and it’s the only control, organic or inorganic, that works on these pests. It stops their feeding immediately, and they will die within 24 hours. It can be applied within 24 hours of harvest.

Fertilize all of these crops with a high-nitrogen food similar to one you might use on your lawn grass. Most of our soils test too high in phosphorus (middle number of the analysis) anyway, so nitrogen will be the prime need.

Read the entire article here at star-telegram.com:

Fall vegetable gardening can be both an adventure as well as a very enjoyable and delicious enterprise. Make sure you protect your veggie investment from those bugs and pests who want to get a free lunch at your expense. Try it and see what you can grow. You just might surprise yourself.

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When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.                                                                                                                                            — Author Unknown

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About Mike Eis

Physician, Author, Marketer, Scientist, Problem Solver, Carpenter and Armchair Philosopher