Fall Vegetable Gardening
By Marcus McCartney
Ohio State University Extension
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“Know Before you Grow” will be a weekly article focusing on the growing world around us. Whether it is gardens, trees, houseplants, lawns, insect, etc., our team of experienced and expert authors will highlight all things nature and will be your “go to” source for proven researched-based information and knowledge. Our team includes Ohio State University staff, specialists, and Master Gardeners. If you are unfamiliar with OSU Extension, our organization’s mission is to create opportunities for people to explore how science-based knowledge can improve social, economic, and environmental conditions. We want to serve our community by ensuring all individuals are living life to its fullest and has the resources to do so. To do this, we create and implement educational workshops, programs, demonstrations, trainings, and articles.
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Through our OSU Master Gardener program, you can become a valuable member of our extension team and represent this great land-grant university. We will be offering a Master Gardener training course this fall, starting September 28th.
For more information about our upcoming training, please visit our OSU Extension Washington County website at, https://washington.osu.edu/ or call 740-376-7431.
Do you have a bare spot in your garden, either from harvesting or a crop that never took or faded? Don’t fret! Planting never takes a day off as long as we have growing days remaining. Right now, is a great time to plant a fall vegetable garden. Fall is a great time to grow many of your favorite vegetable crops. Gardeners can take advantage of cooler temperature by planting spring crops like, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, and much more.
Deciding What to Grow
It is recommended planting fast-growing vegetables and cultivars which matures quickly. It is important to know the average first freeze date, for our area it is mid-October (11th-20th), as well as the vegetable(s) days to maturity. Then working backgrounds, you can establish a planting cut-off date.
Anything planted on this date or before, you can expect a harvest. Please refer to the fall planting guide (inset) for a list of vegetables to grow and their average maturity (days to harvest).
You should remove all previous crop residue and any weeds that have emerged. Prepare the soil by loosening it 6-8″ deep.
You may want to add a general fertilizer, like 10-10-10, at a rate of 1 – 2 pounds per 100 sq ft when working the soil. Fall plantings often suffer from hot soil and a lack of water.
The Soil may form a hard crust over the seeds which can interfere with seed germination, particularly in heavy clay soils. Apply a light mulch of compost or potting soil over the seed row to prevent the soil from crusting. Lettuce, peas, and spinach seed will not germinate well when soil temperatures are over 85 degrees F.
Shading and a light mulch will help to keep the soil temperature cooler.
Also, seeds may be planted a little deeper than the recommended spring planting depth since the temperature will be cooler further down the soil profile.
Finally, make sure you are giving your plants adequate water. Check the soil moisture regularly by placing the finger into the soil. If it feels dry to the touch, water is needed so you must add it.
If planting a fall vegetable garden feels like too much work, another great thing you can do is plant a cover crop. Cover crops are a huge benefit to the garden.
They help to reduce erosion, reduce weed pressure, and add essential Organic Matter (OM) back to the soil. For information about cover crops and which species to grow, please contact your local OSU Extension office.
Marcus McCartney is the OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Washington County. He has been with extension since 2014. Marcus received both his bachelor’s and Master’s degree from West Virginia University Agriculture Education.