In Your Garden with Jenny Watts Growing a Fall Vegetable Garden Planting a fall garden will extend the

gardening season so you can continue to harvest fresh produce after summer crops have finished. Many vegetables are well adapted to planting in the summer for fall harvest.
Many cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, produce their best flavor and quality when they mature during cool weather. In spring, the temperatures often heat up quickly. Vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, tend to bolt or develop bitter flavor when they mature during hot summer weather.

Growing a productive fall vegetable garden requires thoughtful planning and good cultural practices. August and early September are the main planting times for the fall garden. Vegetables that have a 60 to 80 day maturity cycle should be planted around August 1. This includes broccoli, cabbage, carrots and collards. Quick maturing vegetables, such as turnips, lettuce, kale and other leafy greens, can be planted in late August or early September. Transplant seedlings into well-prepared moist soil in the evening, so they have the cool night temperatures to settle in and minimize shock. In hot weather it is best to shelter newly transplanted seedlings for a few days with shade cloth or row covers. You can start seeds of leaf lettuce, bok choy, spinach, Swiss chard and roquette or arugula now. These are fast-maturing crops that will be ready before frost. Although most seeds will germinate quickly in the warm summer soil, some, such as lettuce and spinach, will not germinate well if the soil temperature is above 85°F. Shading the soil with a board or a light mulch will keep the soil cooler, enhancing germination. Remove the temporary shade when you see sprouts emerging. There are many kinds of lettuce to choose from on seed racks that will give you color and variety in your salads. Swiss chard comes in green, red or "rainbow", a mixture of colored stalks. Root crops, such as beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips, can be left in the ground through the fall. Green onions, chives and radishes can also be planted through September for harvest in the fall. It is important to rotate your crops from year to year. Do not plant the same crops in the same place that they were planted in the previous year because the soil will be weakened through continual loss of the same nutrients and the plants will also attract the same insects and diseases to that part of the garden. Before planting your fall crops, turn over the soil and mix in some fertilizer to replace what earlier plants have used up. A major benefit of a fall garden is that it gives you fresh vegetables long after most of your summer crops have been harvested and killed by the frost. So start your fall garden now to extend the productivity of your garden.

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