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Prepare Your Fall Garden

Our second season is at hand

     The vegetable gardening season is only half over. Now that you’ve harvested your beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and onions, it is time to plant beans, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, lettuce and peas.
     To conserve moisture and save time, don’t plow or rototill the garden. Remove the dead or dying plants present and either grub out the existing weeds or use your weed-wacker to cut them down to the ground. Annual weeds such as crabgrass, goosegrass, lamb’s-quarters and pigweed will not re-sprout from the roots remaining in the ground.
     Young weeds can be killed by spraying with horticultural vinegar or with one quart of white vinegar mixed with one tablespoon of Dawn dish detergent. Spraying is lethal only when weeds are actively growing and not under drought stress.
     Plan your spacing. Crowded Brussels sprouts tend to lose their bottom leaves, resulting in lower yield and smaller sprouts. Crowded broccoli and cauliflower will produce abundant foliage but relatively small edible heads. Spacing broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower 18 inches apart in 36-inch-wide rows will guarantee a high yield, and heads will be easier to selectively harvest. Cabbages planted a foot apart will produce smaller heads, but kohlrabi at the same distance will be large though irregularly spaced.
     Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and lettuce can be transplanted from pots or trays, but I prefer sowing the seeds in a small corner of the garden where I can keep the soil moist by daily irrigating until the seeds germinate. Keeping the soil moist improves the germination of these species.
     I allow the seedlings to grow to a height of four to five inches before replanting elsewhere in the garden. When using this method of starting your own transplants, inspect the garden daily, and keep the soil moist until the seedlings emerge, then reduce watering to once every other day.
     This year, I am going to mulch the seedlings lightly with Bloom, which will provide all the nutrients needed until they are ready for transplanting.
    When I transplanted peppers and tomato plants earlier this season, I blended a cup of Bloom into each planting hole as starter fertilizer. I left a few plants untreated, resulting in a noticeable difference in growth.
     Fall-grown peas will outproduce spring-sown peas. This is because peas are sensitive to rising temperatures. When temperatures rise into the 80s as summer approaches, spring-sown peas stop flowering. When peas are grown as a fall crop, the plants will continue to flower and produce until the first killing frost. To achieve maximum yield, sow in a double row approximately four inches apart and train to chicken wire fencing stretched between the double rows.
      I sow 20 percent in Oregon II pod peas to use in preparing Chinese dishes, then 40 percent each sugar pod peas and shelling peas. To assure uniform germination, I irrigate the seeded rows every two days. The water helps keep the soil cool, which is desirable for early, uniform germination.