Dirt on Gardening

Gardeners in the throes of the August harvest may find it hard to imagine continuing the garden through the fall months. However, there are many things that can be planted now and harvested in the next two months.

Greens are an excellent thing to plant for a fall harvest. These include kohlrabi, lettuce, kale, endive, spinach and other greens. Carrots, beets, peas, radishes and turnips are also plants that will grow in the fall garden.

The success of the fall garden depends upon two main factors. First, the plants have to germinate and grow. Second, the plants will need to be protected from light fall frosts.

Carrots, beets, peas, radishes and turnips prefer to germinate at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler, but they will germinate at the typical 85 to 95 degree temperatures of late August. These plants can be direct-seeded in the garden.

Swiss chard and lettuce can be started in seed trays and planted in the garden after germination, or they can be direct-seeded as well. Spinach, which will even grow through the winter, prefers to germinate at 45 to 75 degrees and grows best in temperatures of about 60 degrees. Spinach should be started indoors in cooler temperatures to take off in the fall garden.

All fall crops need to be watered each day that is doesn’t rain, especially during the first month. The warmer, late summer days are just too hot for tender plant seedlings.

Besides regular watering, fall crops need protection from light frosts to thrive and survive. Hoops can be placed over the plants so that row cover can easily be added before a frost or when temperatures are forecasted to be in the 30s.

The aforementioned spinach can be harvested throughout the winter when it’s established in the fall. Other greens such as kale and kohlrabi may also survive, with adequate moisture, through the winter.

Carrots, turnips and other root vegetables may survive cold weather, even snows, if the ground does not freeze, allowing the opportunity to harvest the vegetables as needed.

I didn’t mention crops such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, but if small seedlings of these plants are available, they will also grow and produce a crop when given adequate moisture and protection from frost.

The fall garden is similar to the early spring garden. Plants with short growing periods will grow and do well in the waning days of summer. It’s just important to remember to provide enough moisture and protection from frost. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has various types of row cover available at www.johnnyseeds.com.

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com

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