Although it’s the first of August, and despite the continued drought of 2011, don’t laugh when I tell you it’s time to start thinking about fall vegetable gardens. Before you toss this blog aside, thinking I’ve lost my mind, knowing it’s hard enough to get you to mow the lawn in this heat; you really should start planning today if you want autumn vegetables.
Planning doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get out on in this heat today, although if you don’t have a good starting soil, then yes, you need to get busy today. I’ve written about building the perfect beds in detail in the past, but here’s a reminder of what the perfect vegetable gardening soil is like: 2 parts Rose Soil to 1 part Compost.
The reason I think it’s important to talk about fall vegetable gardening today, is that many newcomers to such an endeavor overlook this opportunity. And if you wait until the time when the temperatures have moderated to plant, many vegetables will not have time to reach maturity before the onset of cold and freezing weather.
Whenever possible, choose early-maturing vegetables for the fall garden. They can be planted after early summer vegetables have been harvested and still be ready to pick before freezing weather. Transplants are best since we often don’t have enough time to take these vegetables from seed to harvest before the onset of the first cold spell.
Having said that, here is a list of vegetables that can be seeded or transplanted in August through September:
– Bush and pole beans (8/1 – 9/15)
– Lima beans (8/1 – 9/15)
– Broccoli transplants (8/1 – 9/15)
– Brussels sprouts (8/1 – 10/1)
– Cabbage transplants (8/1 – 9/15)
– Chinese cabbage (8/15 – 9/15)
– Carrots (8/15 – 10/15)
– Cauliflower transplants (8/15 – 9/15)
– Swiss chard (8/1 – 10/15)
– Sweet corn (8/1 – 8/15)
– Cucumber (8/1 – 9/15)
– Kohlrabi (8/15 – 9/15)
– Parsley (8/15 – 10/1)
– Irish potatoes (8/15 – 9/15)
– Summer squash (8/1 – 8/15)
If you’re wondering why I didn’t list tomatoes on the fall vegetable gardening lineup, it’s because there aren’t that many that work well in the fall, due to the early heat and short time span of cool enough weather needed to set the fruit.
It’s also important to remove old plants that have stopped producing to eliminate shelters for insects and disease organisms. And even if you’ve been able to sustain your peppers and tomatoes, planted earlier this year, you need to know that they will not set fruit during the heat of summer, even though they may still be flowering. If the plants remain healthy, they will set fruit again once temperatures stay below 90 degrees. If you do have existing plants you want to continue through the fall, don’t forget to side-dress them with fertilizer to encourage new growth and keep them well-watered. And one final note: Tomatoes covered with spider mites are not worth saving.