A fall garden helps extend your gardening season so that you can continuously have fresh produce to enjoy until we start having heavy frosts.
Certain garden vegetables actually produce the best quality and flavor when they are grown in a fall garden.
Examples of vegetables that do better in a fall garden include broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
To plant a fall garden, you will first need to remove all plants that are done producing this year (or those that have went to seed).
Along with removing them, you should also remove all weeds.
Next, you should rototill or spade your garden to at least 6-8 inches deep. Apply a general fertilizer (i.e., 12-12-12) to the soil and mix it in as you till or spade if you haven't been fertilizing your garden plants throughout the summer months.
If you have been applying fertilizer to your garden plants throughout the summer, then wait until two-three weeks after the new plants have germinated to sidedress them with some fertilizer.
Once you have prepared the soil, go ahead and plant the seeds or seedlings. Due to the lack of moisture we have been receiving and the heavy clay soils we have, it would be best to cover all seeds with a thin layer of vermiculite, compost or potting soil, instead of using regular soil.
This can be done even in the spring when you are planting your regular garden and helps prevent the soil from crusting and preventing germination.
After you have covered the seeds, you may want to shade the soil some. Some gardeners will do this with seeds such as beans by placing a narrow board up on cement blocks about 2-4 inches above the soil.
After a few days (or the seeds have sprouted), they will remove the boards.
As with any garden, you will want to continue watering it. At a minimum, you should apply 1-inch of water each week to thoroughly moisten your soil. You may want to water more heavily in the first two weeks if you have planted young seedlings.
Some of the fall garden plants you will want to start from seeds include beets, carrots, collards, Kohlrabi, bush beans, radishes and turnips. Other plants, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and onions will need to be started from transplants.
Please realize that plants such as sweet corn, tomatoes, squash and peppers are considered tender and will be damaged by a light frost.
Our average first frost date is Oct. 16-25.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topics, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at email@example.com.
Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Aug. 5-21 -- Indiana State Fair,
* Aug. 22 -- Start of the Indiana Master Naturalist Course, Clay County Extension Office, 6-9 p.m. Cost $55. Contact 448-9041 to register,
* Sept. 5 -- Labor Day. Extension Office closed,
* Sept. 9 -- Nature Day Photography entries due to the Clay County Extension Office, and
* Sept. 10 -- Nature Day, Clay County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Presentations on snakes (11 a.m.) and raptors (noon).