It’s time to plant our fall gardens.
The prospect of cooler days and beautiful fall foliage in our landscapes is inviting. Gardening in cooler weather is far more pleasant than in the humid, sweltering weather of summer.
What better way to enjoy our outdoor spaces than planting a fall garden? An added bonus will be a lower grocery bill as well as fresh nutritious vegetables grown in your own garden area.
Prior to planting our fall gardens, maintenance in our garden space is required.
Take time now to record summer plant locations so you will know where to plant or not to plant next spring.
Some of our favorite vegetables – tomato, cucumber, and squash – harbor diseases that may overwinter in the soil; it is advisable to remove all of the plant from our garden area.
Eliminate the spread of soil borne diseases by not adding this type of debris to your compost bin. These crops should be rotated to avoid disease spread from year to year.
After removing debris, it’s time to prepare the garden for the next crop.
If any problems were noticed in any particular area of the garden, take a soil sample to Clemson Extension for analysis. Prepare the soil and decide what you want to plant.
Here in the Piedmont, we enjoy warm-season and cool-season crops providing a continuous supply of fresh vegetables. Cool-season vegetables will grow past the early freeze in the fall, but they should be planted so that maturity is reached before any hard freezes are expected.
Cool-season vegetables are generally grown for their leaves and roots. They require cool soil and air temperatures to germinate, grow, and mature to provide abundant yields and quality.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, lettuce, kale, radish, onions, spinach, rutabaga, turnips, mustard, beets, and cauliflower are all cool-season crops that thrive during the cooler months.
Depending on crop type, cool-season vegetables may be planted from August through September.
The number of days required to reach maturity and the average dates of the first and last freeze in an area are used to determine appropriate planting times.
If temperatures remain high during August, planting dates may need to be adjusted. The cool-season crops do not like hot temperatures.
Most cool-season seeds should be planted to a depth three times seed diameter. Remember to keep seed moist for good germination.
Multiple plantings of rapidly maturing cool-season vegetables will extend the harvest season and multiply financial savings. Plant transplants or seeds a week or two apart to vary maturity dates. Planting quantities should be determined according to usage (fresh, freeze or can) and available garden space.
Bolting, or the production of flowering and seed heads, is a problem in some cool-season crops.
Cole crops bolt if a favorable growing period is followed by a prolonged cold period of 10 or more days of temperatures between 35 and 50 degrees, which are then followed by a warm period.
Larger plants during the cold period have an increased risk of bolting. Prevent bolting by planting at the correct time, watering when transplanting to encourage root growth and to remove air pockets in the soil, setting out healthy transplants, and maintaining a steady growth rate.
Cole crops are susceptible to both fungal and bacterial diseases. Diseases may be avoided by planting resistant varieties, practicing crop rotation, removing debris immediately after harvest, spacing plants to allow rapid drying of leaves, and avoiding wetting the leaves when watering.
As always, monitor the vegetables for diseases to identify and address problems by initiating corrective measures promptly.
Primary insect problems with cool-season vegetables include several worm species, aphids, and flea beetles. Carefully monitor for insect damage and use corrective measures as needed.
Caterpillars attack the foliage; cutworms damage the seedlings; wireworms feed on the roots.
The gardener must be observant to produce an abundant crop of cool-season vegetables.