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Gear Up for Fall Gardening


August 28, 2011 by wcobserver

We contemplated writing an entire article on the weather and how it relates to your gardens. Instead, we will just leave it at “you never know about the weather.” This past week has been no exception. Cool temperatures and rain… in AUGUST! While this is unusual, it is very much in line with what the Farmer’s Almanac predicted. And so, with these cooler temps and precipitation, we decided to write about fall gardens. Many of you (and definitely us) have had a rough gardening year, but don’t give up hope yet; there’s always the fall garden.

Why spend time on a fall garden? Fall vegetables don’t require any special care; in fact you’ll spend less time caring for your fall crops because of the favorable autumn growing conditions. The plants will grow rapidly at first and gradually slow as the days become shorter and colder. Fall gardens usually have fewer pests (especially as the temperature drops). There are always those pesky aphids, but if your plants are healthy, they should survive. And since organic gardens have not killed off the beneficial insects, they ladybugs should be abundant to eat the aphid larvae. And USUALLY, fall gardens don’t require as much watering since we have higher rain falls in autumn.

The two biggest worries of fall gardeners are the extremes: hot and cold. You plant when it’s too hot and you harvest when it’s too cold. However, northwest Arkansas has the potential for some great fall gardens. Last year we were able to harvest a feast for thanksgiving and right up into the first week of December.

Following is a list of fast growing, cold hardy crops that are ideal for fall vegetable gardening: Kale, collards, lettuce, spinach, turnips, broccoli, mustard greens and leeks. We also snuck in a late planting of green beans last year!

Don’t panic upon the arrival of frost or light freezes, as a period of Indian summer often follows with milder weather conditions that encourage fall crops to continue growing and producing. Throwing a sheet or row cover over the plants will help as well. This is practical depending on the size of your garden. When planting this fall, consider permaculture techniques which will allow you to easily cover it with a sheet. You will be surprised at how warm those soil temperatures can stay when sheltered from the cold over night. Cold frames are a great way to keep a garden going year round. Perhaps another article on that later!

In the mean time, for those of you who have been visiting us at the West Fork Farmers Market, we have been happy to provide plentiful tomatoes this year. As our tomato numbers are starting to dwindle, we may or may not be at the market each Saturday. The market will still be there so please continue to support the Findahl’s, David, Pam, and all the other vendors. We will still have free range chicken for sale and eggs available. If you are interested in these, please email and expect to see us back at the market in September with fall veggies.



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