Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Crops to Grow

A gardening friend in OK posted this to the list serve and I am sharing her very good information. 

So what kind of crops can you grow in your garden? Oh boy, lots of good stuff! There are different varieties of crops you can grow. And you have to consider which ones will work for you based on your tastes, and the timing of your first frost (11/5 here in Austin.) There are cool-weather crops, and cold-weather crops. 

Cold-hardy vegetables include the following (maturity is in parenthesis): These guys survive some frost and can be found as transplants around the area now. 
Brussels sprouts (90 days)                                                               Cabbage (70 days)
Collards (75 days)                                                                                Kale (55 days)
Parsnips (100-130 days)                                                                   Spinach (45 days)
Garlic (best planted when winter is really close)

Cool-weather hardy vegetables include:
Lettuce (45-60 days, depending on variety)  seed them directly, transplant them, or seed them into flats
Mustard greens (45 days)                                                               Radishes (25-50 days)
Rutabaga (90 days)                                                                           Snap peas (50-60 days)
Turnips (60 days)                                                                              Carrots (50-70 days, depending on variety)
Broccoli (70 days)                                                                            Cauliflower (60 days)
Green onions (50-60 days)                                                           Beets (55-60 days)
Swiss chard (30-50 days)

From this list, I know that I am going to be erecting a couple of cold frames to keep tender lettuce and such from freezing but it made it last year through 2 snows so I know it will work.  I have the PVC and need a couple more connectors to do it better than before.  I also am using the bed next to the shed which gets more light and is an easier area to build the cold frame over. 

I start all my seeds on the bathroom windowsill in flats. It has great early morning sun, lots of light most of the day (I have them sitting on a mirror to add more light) and I keep a better eye on them until they are up and going. It is cooler than the yard in the summer and works well until it gets really cold. Some plants, like various cabbages and salad greens, simply won't grow if the soil is warmer than 85 degrees. The plants move to the picnic table from the windowsill with dappled light but more sun, then to the garden when they are past their second leaf.    

She says the key to successful fall planting is to get the plants growing to catch the last wave of summer heat AND allow them to mature before the first frost hits. You also have to keep seedlings moist; drought stresses young plants, especially fall veggies, so it's important they not dry out. 

Where to Plant  More than anything pay attention to plants that do not like to follow each other. Fall is no time to stunt their growth. Planting broccoli and other brassicas in the same place season after season here encourages bugs so I am trying out a pyrethrum powder to combat the cabbage worms that already found the chard.  It seems a lot safer than the sevin dust I tried in the spring out of desperation.

I am mulching with a combination of grass clippings and shredded office paper. We have such a small yard now that I never have enough clippings. I am also still adding 1/4 volume of vermiculite to every area I prepare to help retain the moisture in the soil in addition to mulching.

Lastly, the tender crops  Most of the peppers are already in large pots and all the new cherry tomatoes are. This makes it so easy to just whisk them into the sunroom when temperatures get too low. I even got new bulbs for the grow-light. 

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