By: KC Stewart – Assistant Grower – Bloch’s Farm – Green Lake, WI
If you haven’t done it already, now is the time to plant your fall vegetable garden. Several vegetable crops, like most greens, do better as the days get cooler. Some even have a better flavor after a light frost. It’s just a matter of choosing the right plants. You just need to do a bit of preparation for it to work.
Your garden probably has some plants that are past their prime- lettuce and spinach have bolted, peas and beans have dried up. So let’s start with a clean slate. Pull out and compost plants that have stopped producing. (Warning: Don’t compost plants that look diseased, like tomatoes with blossom end rot.) With the withered plant material out of the way you can now start to rebuild your planting bed. Your plants have taken a lot of nutrients out of the soil, so you will need to fertilize. A recommended fertilizer for this purpose would be Dr. Earth for Vegetables, which is available at Bloch’s Farm. Mix the fertilizer into the soil with a garden fork. This accomplishes not only mixing the nutrients in but also loosens up soil that has become compacted over the summer. An addition of compost would also be a good choice for this purpose. It’s important to consider what will be planted in the area you’re fertilizing. Root crops like radishes and early beets won’t need as much nitrogen as crops like leaf lettuce. It will make them nice and leafy but you want them for their roots.
Once your garden is prepped it’s time to choose your plants. Some cool-season crops to consider would be: arugula, leaf lettuce (it matures faster than head forming varieties), chard, spinach, kale, beets, radishes and turnips. For a complete list of plants, along with frost hardiness and maturation dates, check out a gardening book, search online, or ask one of your local greenhouse nursery staff.
When you are ready to plant, it’s a good idea to plant seeds slightly deeper than recommended on the package. You should also consider planting your seeds on the shady side of some of your taller crops like tomatoes, or using row covers to shield tender seedlings from a sun that is still fairly intense in late August and early September. Soil moisture is the key to your garden’s success at this point. Even soil moisture can be maintained by adding a light mulch or dusting of compost on newly seeded soil. As root crops develop, adding mulch will not only maintain moisture but will provide frost protection late in the season.
None of us seem to have enough time in the summer to keep up with all of our garden’s needs. Add to that a wet spring and a summer drought and even the best gardeners are ready to throw in the towel (or trowel). But don’t give up- this could prove to be your best garden yet!
Bloch’s Farm is open 7 days a week: 8 am to 5 pm Monday – Saturday and 10 am to 4 pm Sunday. Check out our huge selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials! Fall annuals and mums are now available as well! Stop in today and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you. Feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Visit our website online at www.blochsfarm.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Join us for this weekend’s sale! September 3rd – September 5th: 30% Off Perennials!