This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
The fall season is a great opportunity to get some hardy veggies started before it gets too cold. Crops planted now will root in and get established before any hard frosts might cause damage.
Garlic planted now will outperform spring planted garlic hands down and the same holds true for root crops and cole crops such as broccoli or cabbage.
Most leaf crops such as lettuce and chard can be planted now from transplants but root crops like carrots and radishes should be direct seeded. The one exception is beets.
When beets are planted from seed they always end up too crowded but with transplants you can actually take the seedlings out of the pack, wash all the dirt off the roots so you can separate them and then plant them about 6 inches apart.
Doing this will result in larger tastier beets.
When planting fall veggies remember to enrich the soil with additional compost and organic fertilizer and never plant them in the same spot as the previous year.
It is always a good idea to rotate your crops every year which helps reduce disease and insect issues and minimize nutrient deficiencies.
As the weather cools down have some sort of protection ready like Row Cover or build a permanent system with PVC hoops and plastic that you can put on and off easily (this is what the missus does in her garden).
A light frost is not a problem but when it gets down to the low 20’s and isn’t going to get above freezing during the day it is time to cover the garden.
Fall is an excellent time to divide perennials like hostas and iris and day lilies and just about any perennial except ones that bloom in early spring. Those should be divided just after they bloom in the spring.
When dividing perennials be sure and make generous divisions and not tiny little one eye divisions which are much more fragile and subject to dying off during the winter.
Again, any time you plant you should add some compost and organic fertilizer (most organic feeds have had mycorrhizae added to them which helps immensely with rooting and general growth).
Perennials planted now either from divisions or the nursery will root in this fall and go nuts come spring.
Educational opportunity: we have started up our gardening classes again here at the nursery. Last Saturday, September 6th, the class was on fall veggies and this coming Saturday, September 13th, it is on gardening with ornamental grasses followed on September 20th with fall lawn care.
These classes are free and start at 10 am sharp. It’s always nice to RSVP so we know how many chairs to set up and handouts to copy.
Enjoy the fall season and see you soon.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at email@example.com.