HOME GARDENING: FALL CROPS

 

My tomato, squash, and cucumber plants are just now producing a hearty harvest, so it just doesn’t seem possible that it’s time to start planting the Fall crop. But, it is. Think broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, radishes, and spinach. That’s a healthy lineup right there! Many of the same vegetables you planted in the Spring can be planted again in the Fall. It’s all about the number of hours of daylight and milder temperatures that make these crops thrive. First things first. Knowing the Fall frost date. LEX18 meteorologist and fellow gardener, Tom Ackerman, says we can expect the first frost to arrive around October 15th. With that average date in mind, look on your seed packet or plant label to find out how many days are needed for the vegetable to mature. Count backwards from the frost date. It doesn’t hurt to add a few extra days just to be sure. Actually, some Fall crops don’t mind a light frost. All veggies are not created equally when it comes to optimal growing. Your leafy vegetables mature quickly from seed. I learned this first hand in the Spring when I planted loose leaf lettuce for the first time. The seeds I sprinkled in the soil burst with beautiful greens in no time. Other vegetables do better when you transplant small plants that have been started in a six pack. Broccoli and cabbage fall into this category. I also have had much better luck planting onion sets instead of seeds. As always with new transplants and seeds, keep the water flowing. Water deeply. Early morning or evenings are best when the heat of the day isn’t causing a water loss. There are other important things to tend to on your Fall garden check list. Harvest your vegetables as soon as they are ready and clean out the debris once the plants have stopped producing. This is an effcient way to create more space for your new crops. Continue harvesting herbs. Consume them, store in a cool dry place or think about freezing some to use later. Divide your perennials that have become overcrowded and prepare your beds for any new perennials you want to plant. This is your last opportunity to plant new additions to be ready for next Spring. Now is the time to also prepare to plant your cool season annuals for that one last burst of color in your yard and potted containers. Lastly, here are some words of wisdom I just picked up from the Farmer’s Almanac. As tempting as it may be, and believe me my crape myrtle is practically begging me to bring the loppers to it, do not prune your shrubs and trees. That encourages new growth, which could be damaged this winter. That said, pruning could be a sound plan of action to take on that out of control Forsythia on the side of my house!
Posted on 2012-09-01 by Michelle Rauch
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