Now is the time to start a fall vegetable garden. What do I do to prepare?
With all of this rain, I am little behind on getting my fall veggies into their beds. But hopefully with a little sun drying out my raised beds, they will be ready for some fall planting. I cannot postpone it any longer.
I sowed my seeds indoors about three weeks ago and now they are sprouting little green leaves, so I am ready to transplant. I have chosen garlic chive, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and carrots.
Although I am late on the carrots and broccoli, I am going to give them a try anyway. If you are running late as I am, you may want to buy transplants and forego the seeds this year.
First, enrich your soil with compost or aged manure to replenish micronutrients and give the plants a strong start.
Drought doesn't seem to be a problem right now, but make sure the soil is kept moist on your seedlings and transplants; even short periods of dryness can put a kink in your vegetables' growth curve. Your best defense is a soaker hose snaked throughout your beds before you plant. This will help with watering through their germination periods. Leafy greens (collards) germinate quickly, while slow growers such as carrots, lettuce, spinach and beets may take a little time.
Go mad for mulch! Place it over sheets of newspaper between plants. The paper will block light, which will prevent weed growth. It will also keep the soil cool and moist to attract earthworms. To get the best coverage, lay down the double mulch and wet it thoroughly before you plant.
Prepare your defenses against garden pests. You may want to lay a light netting row cover over the new plants until they are established. This will prevent army worms and grasshoppers from invading the territory. Once the cooler temperatures start arriving, this can be taken off as insect populations diminish. If you have deer problems, you might want to keep netting over the garden into early winter.
Try planting some new crops such as arugula lettuce, spinach mustard or swede turnips. These vegetables are delicious and grow well in the fall.
Hybrid varieties of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower generally excel in terms of fast, uniform growth. Think about leaving some room for garlic, which is planted later in October to enjoy throughout the winter.
Get off to a good start and enjoy the cool season veggie garden. If you need additional information, the Extension office has plenty, such as planting charts and harvest schedules.
Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.