LATE FALL VEGETABLES – Byron Chitwood
After our hot summers, we are all looking forward for a change to a cool fall. With this cooler weather coming on, now is the time to plan for late fall vegetables in our garden plots. The first ones that come to mind are turnips and beets. Both of these vegetables are prized for both their greens and roots. Both can be planted from mid- August through the end of September. After cleanup of the spaces allocated for the two vegetables, till and rake the soil until it is level and clods are suitably pulverized. Turnip seeds are usually mixed with powdered soil or fertilizer and broadcast over the area that has been selected. Some folks plant them in rows and I have tried both methods and both work well. After the seed mixture has been broadcast, lightly rake the soil with the back of a rake and water in the seeds. Within a week, the seeds should germinate and sprout. Some thinning might be required after they have sprouted.
Beets should be planted in rows at a depth of a half or more inch with spacing of 2 inches and rows about 16 inches apart. They take longer than turnips but should sprout within two weeks.
Mustard greens can be planted like turnips or beets but should be thinned to a much less dense stand than either turnips or beets. If the weather is good and the soil is moist enough, mustard greens will sprout in less than a week.
Collards, kale, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, cauliflower and chard are greens or vegetables that need to be in the ground during the month of August. All of these can be started from seeds and will have time to mature before the first killing frost. However, they can all stand temperatures below freezing provide it doesn’t get to cold and the cold remains for days on end. If the winter is not too severe, collards, kale and chard can survive the winter and will be productive in the very early spring before any other vegetable comes up. Sometimes, mustard greens have survived a mild winter.
My favorite vegetable to plant for a fall garden is green beans. There are several varieties that do well and maybe more, but I prefer contenders and as a second choice, Italian sometimes known as Roma flat green beans. In a taste test with 18 Master Gardeners, the Romas scored the highest. Regardless of which one they like the best, I never have any trouble giving away my surplus.
There are many other vegetables that can be planted for a late fall harvest. These include tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, squash and potatoes. They all do well and yields sometimes exceed spring harvest. The exception is potatoes. They almost always yield about a third of what you could expect in the spring.
The last thing to plant is garlic in October. It will not be mature until the following June.