Probably the last thing the average gardener thinks of doing in the heat of the summer is to plant another round of vegetables…again. However, fall gardens will often produce higher quality, better tasting cool-season crops as the vegetables mature during cooler temperatures. Note the “cool-season crops”.
If your love of gardening is deep and you decide to take on the challenge of fall gardening, there are a few things to remember. For instance;
-it is important to plant seeds slightly deeper than you would in the spring so they stay cooler and the soil around the seeds stays moist longer.
-plant the seeds more thickly, and then be sure to thin later.
-if you have critters or varmints that like to enjoy the fruits of your efforts, you may need to protect your crops through the use of fencing.
The following “calendar” is a general guide of what can be planted, and in what time-frame to do so.
Mid-July: Plant potatoes if you can find or have saved back seed potatoes. Do not use freshly dug potatoes as seed, as they have a built-in dormancy that will prevent growth. Also note that grocery store potatoes often are treated so they will not sprout. At this time you can start your cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower plants from seed. Choose a protected place where the soil can be kept moist and rabbits will not bother them. This will not be where they will grow the entire season but these crops should be transplanted around the middle of August.
Late July: Seed (direct) beets, carrots, parsnips, endive and beans.
Late July to Early August: Seed (direct) spinach and long-season maturing lettuce. Leaf lettuce will be seeded later.
Second Week of August: Transplant (not seed) cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower to their final location.
Late August to Early September: Seed (direct) radishes, turnips and leaf lettuce.
Use light amounts of fertilizer before planting. For example, apply 1/4 cup of a low-analysis fertilizer (6-7-7) per 10 feet of row. Side dress two weeks after transplanting or four weeks after seeding by applying 2 tablespoons of a 16-0-0 or 1 tablespoon of a 27-3-3, 30-3-4 fertilizer, or something similar per plant. One last thing to remember; watering must occur more frequently because the vegetable seeds that you planted should not be allowed to dry out.
Overhead watering often causes soil to crust, making it more difficult for young, tender plants to emerge. Prevent this by applying a light sprinkling of peat moss, vermiculite or compost directly over the row after seeding. Even better, use a soaker hose or drip irrigation right next to the row to allow water to slowly seep into the ground.
Rip Winkel is the Horticulture agent in the Cottonwood District (Barton and Ellis Counties) for K-State Research and Extension. You can contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling either 785-682-9430, or 620-793-1910.