The Fall Garden, 2013 Edition

I think I have finally finished planting the fall garden. For the moment, that is. There’s always something else that gets planted in a few days, or weeks. Gardening here is mostly year round, so it’s hard to say where the fall garden ends and the winter garden begins – and so on. Occasionally someone will ask me “is your garden done yet?” I always smile and tell them that the garden is NEVER done yet for me!

Brussels Sprouts plant

Brussels Sprouts plant

The fall garden actually started several months ago, when I started seeds for Brussels Sprouts. The Impact Community Garden folks asked me if we could grow them, and it sounded good to me. They were the first fall vegetable to get planted out, back in early July. They are doing well here, and starting to get tall. They have a long way to go before we see any sprouts though!

row of fall broccoli and kale plants

row of fall broccoli and kale plants

I planted out broccoli, kale and kohlrabi in early August, from seeds I started in late June. Those plants are nicely established already. I am using both shredded paper and straw for mulching. And I’ve already started using the soaker hoses for irrigation. We may have had 9 inches of rain in June, and 5 inches in July, but that doesn’t help these newly set plants one bit! We’ve seen less than one inch so far in August.

young broccoli plant

young broccoli plant

The cabbage plants were set out more recently. I had to wait until a spot was freed up in the row where bush beans were growing. Sometimes I have the fall veggies follow the squash, but this year the squash is still hanging on. I decided to plant garlic in that row, because the squash will definitely be done for by garlic planting time in late October! I am a big fan of succession planting, but sometimes the plan needs to be flexible.

row cover material over bed of carrot seed

row cover material over bed of carrot seed

I wasn’t sure if I would plant carrots for fall, but I had a lot of seed and an empty bed so I went ahead. I used row cover material to keep the soil moist after planting and it worked like a charm again. I first tried this method in spring, after reading about Daphne’s success with it. I sowed the carrot seed in rows about 8 inches apart, then covered the seed with Promix seed starting mix. After that I watered the bed and covered it with Agribon row cover material. The carrots were up in 7 days time. Now it’s time to remove the Agribon and do a little weeding and thinning. Last year we were enjoying the fall carrots from late October through December. I am starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I am finally figuring out how to grow carrots. Now I need to work on my onion growing skills!

carrots sprouting

carrots sprouting

Next door to the carrots I have a bed with radishes and celery planted. The celery has been there for a couple of months, but the radishes were sown just a bit before the carrots. I have China Rose, Red Meat, Green Meat and Minowase Summer Cross planted there. Hopefully they will give us some nice radishes for fall and winter use.

radishes coming up

radishes coming up

On down from those beds I have one cold frame bed planted with kohlrabi and some scallions. You can see a bit of the basil that is still going strong in the bed to the right.

kohlrabi and scallions growing in bed

kohlrabi and scallions growing in bed

Next door I have some lettuce and arugula planted. Much of the arugula is self-sown from where I let it go to seed this spring. I knew some of the seed would fall to the ground before I collected it all, and it looks like I was right. I wish all the fall stuff had been this easy to get going! Hopefully there will be salads in our future. Some of the arugula has already gone on pizza.

bed with lettuce and arugula

bed with lettuce and arugula

I’m adding compost everywhere before planting, and I have lots of it at the moment. While it is definitely great for the plants, it is not weed free! I have quite a few tomato seedlings coming up in some of the beds, in places where tomatoes have not been growing recently. Must be the compost! My compost piles don’t always heat up enough to kill seeds. I avoid putting any weeds with seeds in the compost bins, but tomatoes are fair game. I also have some squash sprouting in some of the plantings. It’s no big deal to weed out tomato and squash sprouts though, compared to some things that show up from other sources.

tomatoes sprouting from compost

tomatoes sprouting from compost

My latest planting was some turnips. I sowed white salad turnips like Hakurei and Oasis as well as some Purple Top White Globe. I planted these in the kitchen garden bed near the house, where garlic was planted earlier. That bed is about 4×30 feet, and we definitely don’t need that many turnips, so I planted the rest of the bed with buckwheat as a cover crop and bee forage. Buckwheat is a great green manure plant, and bees of all kinds absolutely love it, as well as butterflies. It should be blooming in a little over 30 days from sowing. I will till it in before it sets seed, which will be sometime before first frost.

skipper butterfly on buckwheat flowers last fall

skipper butterfly on buckwheat flowers last fall

All that’s left to plant is some cover crops in the main garden, and spinach in one of the cold frame beds. It’s hard to get spinach to germinate outside until the weather gets a little cooler. It’s usually late September or early October before that happens here. But I can sow some cover crops in the main garden as space is available. I’ve got seed for oats and daikon radish in addition to the buckwheat. All of these will winter kill here, but the big radishes will help open up the soil as well as add organic material when they are tilled in next spring. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our fall garden activities, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA!

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4 Responses to The Fall Garden, 2013 Edition

  1. Patsy says:

    I’m so glad you posted about how you sow and cover the carrots in mid-summer. That’s a great idea and one I will try next year. Too late this time around, but my late carrot sowings aren’t looking too bad.
    Patsy recently posted…Harvest Monday Mid-August EditionMy Profile

  2. Daphne says:

    Yeah I’ve found covering with row cover works so much better than the other methods for germinating carrots. Mainly because if you are too late to take it off it doesn’t matter. With a board or burlap if I miss it by a day or two then the poor little seedlings die. My carrots have been up for a while. I find I have to plant carrots fairly early and I might even be a bit too late this year. The garden loses sun in the fall fairly quickly here. But I’ll at least get some carrots even if they aren’t huge.

  3. Susan Klein says:

    Hi Dave,
    Do you remember when you started your Brussels Sprouts? I messed this up this year. I have plants that are enormous, but don’t have any sprouts on them. The stalks have got to be 4 inches thick. Any thoughts on this? I think I planted too early.
    Thanks,
    Sue

    • Dave says:

      I have that problems with them sometimes too – no sprouts! I pinch the top growing point out of the plant. That keeps it from growing any taller, which then forces it to make sprouts. That should do it!

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