September 2023 Fall Vegetable Gardening

Fall Gardens
This will be somewhat different from other articles in that a major part of this month’s article is from an ACES (Alabama Cooperative Extension System) article with comments from me.

The ACES article may be found here (Basics of  Fall Vegetable Gardening). It is this article that I will base my comments on. Be sure to read the corresponding paragraph from the ACES article. Before reading my comments.

Preparing the Site:
Of all the steps you take this is by far the most important. If you had a garden this spring this should be simple in that you will simply have to remove the weeds and old plants and loosen the soil. I would suggest that you consider taking a soil sample, having it tested and add the appropriate nutrients to your garden soil. Old Tyme Feed can take care of this for you. It, typically, takes about a week or two to get your test results.

Use a rototiller or simply a shovel to turn the soil. I use both. If it is a relatively small area, simply use a shovel and turn the soil. You might want to add some mulch to loosen the soil.

Planting the Fall Garden:
Look at Table-1 associated with the ACES article to determine when to plant your vegetables. Be aware that this Table-1 specifies planting dates for seeds and not transplants. If using seeds be sure to plant according to the note in the Table – Planting dates should be approximately two weeks later in the fall dates. I will plant even somewhat later as our falls and winters are typically somewhat warmer than what this Table-1 was created for – 2019.

You can also buy transplants for most of the vegetables in Table-1. This will give you about a two-week head start and you don’t have to concern yourself with seed germination. Transplants may be found at most farmers supply stores in the area, Old Tyme Feed in Fairhope, Robertsdale Seed, Feed, a & Supply, Racines Feed Garden and Supply Inc., and Tractor Supply in Summerdale. This is the time when most of the stores will have just received their fall transplants.

If using seed just buy a small scoop of seed as there will be PLENTY of seed for your family use.

One vegetable not shown in Table-1 are potatoes. I find that in planting potatoes in the fall you do not want to cut the potato but simply put the entire potato in the ground. Also, I find the red potatoes grow quite well and you get a good harvest. Use the small red potatoes creamers which you can find at McKenzie Farm Market’s on S-98 or Allegri Farm Market at Hwy-181 and Hwy-64 and probably Burris in Loxley on Hwy-64 and 59. I still have several left from my fall garden last year in our pantry.

Carrots do quite well but I plant them by simply scattering the very small seed, I would suggest mixing 1 part seed with 3 parts sand, over a 3×4 area instead of rows. As they start growing you may have to thin them.

The ACES article pretty well covers this topic! What does help here is to mulch your vegetables to help keep them moist.  Bags of mulch can be bought at big box stores as well as farmers supply centers. Old Tyme Feed you can buy it in bulk.

Insects and Diseases:
Here you will have to take particular care if you are planting where you had a spring garden. Insects and diseases are more prolific in the fall as opposed to the spring. In the spring I do minimal spraying, if any but in the fall if I do not spray a pesticide, I will lose a significant part of my crop. This means that you will have to keep a close eye on your garden for pests and disease.

FYI: There is a pesticide that comes in a plastic bottle that you simply screw onto your hose, pull the spray trigger and you are done. It is very effective and very easy to use.

Frost Protection:
Typically, this is not a major issue. Of course, you may question this statement based on our 3-day frost this past winter, but this was unusual. If the temperature is 30-32 or higher you may still be okay. I have had potatoes lose some of their leaves – but wait a week or two and they come back – I have never lost a potato crop in the winter. Generally, root crops will be okay, and lettuce is fine as well as are most of the other hardy vegetables shown in Table-1. `With crops such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale I have more issues with insects