It’s time to put in your fall garden

It’s time to put in your fall garden

How lucky are we! In our neck of the woods, we can plant virtually everything that our spring garden had and enjoy these veggies in the fall season. Isn’t it great to just go out into the backyard and pull a tomato or squash? And of course, the flavors are just incomparable!

Once you decide to have a fall garden, the Aggies remind us that we may have to be a little drastic when it comes to replacing an existing spring garden. Most tiny little spring plants are quite gangly, disease ridden and damaged by insects. Yes, pull them up. Be brave. Remember that the best and most delicious tomatoes you had this past spring were the first ones produced. The tomato plant that has gotten old and diseased will never produce any good quantity fruit again. Most of these old garden plants should be put into the trash and not composted unless you really look them over for disease or bugs.

The advice from old gardeners is that August is the time to remove weeds and all spring plants except okra, cherry tomatoes and pole beans that look healthy. They say that your large tomato plants may have a few small “hangers on,” but unless you have at least 20-25 good sized fruit, pull up the plant and use any tomatoes in tomato relish or similar recipes.

Make sure that the fall garden will still get full sun. Remember how the sun’s rays shift around from season to season. All vegetables require sunlight to grow, and most need full sun. Full sun is at least eight hours of direct, intense sun per day. Vegetable plants like tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and cucumbers will not produce well without enough sun. Afternoon shade is OK. Shading can come from a nearby privacy fence or a tall row of tomatoes that shade more shade-tolerant vegetables. Planting less than 6 feet from hedges, shrubs or trees is not a good idea either. These other larger plants will use up vitamins in the soil that your veggies need.

Once you’ve decided the “where” of your fun fall garden, be sure to till, weed and loosen the soil. This is a good time to shovel in some manure, or a little sand or organic matter to make this soil the best it can be. Some gardeners add in fertilizer or slow release fertilizer this time of year, too. Be prepared to water generously when you plant. It is still so hot outside. Water daily if it doesn’t rain.

Now that you have the soil ready, do a little planning regarding timing of what you want to grow. You can still use seeds or small plants. The Aggies categorize fall vegetable crops as long-term and short-term crops. The long-term veggies should be planted first. Why? The fear of frost and cold weather determine when to plant. Carrots, cauliflower, chard, collards, garlic, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions parsley, spinach and turnips and beets are more cold tolerant. Frost susceptible vegetables include beans, cantaloupes, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, peas, peppers, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes and watermelons. The Aggie Horticulture website has oodles of additional information on fall gardens, including length of growing times and suggested varieties to use. And those Aggies are super good gardeners!