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Plant fall vegetable garden

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By Dennis Morgeson

If you were like me, you planted a spring garden complete with broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, etc. and you liked it.  Guess what, it’s time to plant a fall garden with most of the same vegetables again.  We can do this in Kentucky thanks to our relatively long growing season and mild spring and fall seasons.  Most of the fall garden has to be planted in early August.

Fall garden plants produce better tasting harvests in the fall because the weather is getting cooler instead of hotter by harvest time which keeps the vegetables tender and sweet.  There are numerous vegetables that you can still plant, the dates in parenthesis are the latest safe planting date for central Kentucky, however you may even go two to three weeks later on some and still get a good harvest, it all depends on the season and how late our first frost and freeze occurs.

Green beans and or snap beans should be planted no later than Aug. 1, however I have personally planted some on Aug. 15 and they did fine one year, but another year I had to cover them with tobacco canvas to protect them from frost until they were ready.  Look for varieties with the shortest maturity dates.

You can also still plant summer squash until Aug. 1, but again look for quick maturing varieties.  Also, if you had problems this year with squash vine borer you will likely need to protect your new plants with a lower stem wrap of foil when they get a little size on them or keep them sprayed once per week with sevin or malathion.  You will only need to spray the stem to protect them from borers.

Now, on to the actual “fall” crops or the ones that like cooler weather; these should be planted by Aug. 1, however you can play with the dates to extend harvests and take a few chances.  Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants can go in now.  Keep an eye on the white butterflies fluttering around; they will lay eggs that will turn into the green worms that eat your crops.  Sevin will control them and so will dipel.  Look for quick maturing varieties.  For instance, you can get cabbage that matures in 50 days or 70.  Go for the 50-day variety.

Kale, collards, turnips, beets, snow peas, parsley, lettuce, kohlrabi, radish, and spinach can be seeded into your garden now as well.  Most of these should go in around the first of August, however radish can be planted until Sept. 15 and spinach until Sept. 1.  Many of these can be planted later, however these dates are the “safe” latest planting date for our area.  You can plant much later some years and get a good harvest and some years you can’t. 

For fall you always want to pick the quickest maturing varieties to avoid frost.  To keep your fall garden on track, water if we have dry spells, keep pests in check, and it doesn’t hurt to have a piece of tobacco canvas handy in case we have an early frost.  Many fall crops like broccoli and cabbage etc. can take a frost but of course summer crops that can be planted late like beans and squash cannot! 

I am going to do the Master Gardener program again with Nelson County.  If you are interested, the cost is $100 per person and will be an evening class this time.  We haven’t picked the day of the week yet, however if you are interested, give me a call at 859-336-7741 and I will put your name down to send you more information.