Plant Now for Fall and Winter Veggies
Gardening goes on after summer ends
Vegetable gardening should not stop with harvesting the last tomatoes and peppers. Fall and early winter are great times to harvest Brussel sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, spinach, collard greens, kale, baby carrots, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga and lettuce. These heart-healthy vegetables are easy to grow and require little attention once established.
But you must start now.
For good fall crops, there is still time to sow seeds of beets, spinach, collards, kale, turnips, carrots and kohlrabi and obtain a good crop this fall. Transplants of Brussel sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, broccoli, cauliflower are already available from local garden centers and greenhouses. These crops are excellent for absorbing those residual soil nutrients not utilized by summer vegetable plants. As the soils cool in early October, they will need additional fertilizer.
As the daylight hours grow shorter and temperatures cool, the gradual changes in temperatures caused by the Bay stimulate these crops to remain vegetative. Lettuce, Chinese cabbage, spinach, pak-choi and bocktoy will not bolt and flower, cabbages will not split, and broccoli will be slow to flower.
Butter crunch is one of the better varieties of lettuce to grow in the fall, as well as red tip, red chief and Great Lakes.
When growing cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale and kohlrabi, control cabbage loopers by spraying at least every two weeks. The most effective control can be obtained by spraying with BT, often referred to as Dipel or Thuricide. Both of these spray materials are recommended for use by organic gardeners and will provide 100 percent control when applied as recommended. Shake the bottles well before mixing with the proper amount of water and thoroughly cover the plants with spray.
For maximum collards and kale flavor, delay harvesting until they have been frosted. Remember to fold the leaves of cauliflower plants over the developing white head, using a rubber band. This will keep the cauliflower head clean, white and tender.
Here in southern Maryland, Brussel sprouts are best harvested between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s when you’ll want to baste them with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees for a vegetable dish worth waiting for.
Wait to sow radishes until late September or early October. The shorter daylight hours make for large tuberous roots and fewer leaves.
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