QUESTION: When should we start planting a vegetable garden for fall?
Start now! As summer vegetables begin to dwindle and fade, make space in garden beds for kitchen garden favorites that grow in cooler weather. Here are suggestions and tips from garden authors and extension agents:
Broccoli: If you can buy transplants, make sure they are short and compact and have good, green color. Be sure they’re not transporting pests or disease. Plant them in full sun about 18 inches apart, with about 36 inches between rows. Water as needed to keep the plants from wilting, and apply a complete fertilizer when they are about 10 inches tall.
Cabbages: Set out transplants in full sun and well-drained soil. Space the transplants 12 to 18 inches apart with 24 inches between rows. Fertilize the plants when they’re about half grown, and harvest when the heads reach full size. For the best flavor, use it fresh.
Collards: Sow seeds or set seedlings in full sun and well-drained soil, 12 to 18 inches apart, with 20 inches between rows. Provide regular water (about an inch of water a week) and harvest by cutting the outer leaves as they reach full size.
Leaf lettuce: Begin now to sow seeds in successive plantings every two or three weeks. Sow in rows 12 inches apart, and thin to 4 – 6 inches apart when seedlings appear. Seeds can also be sprinkled over the soil in large pots and planters. Harvest when the leaves are large enough to use.
Spinach: Sow seeds in full sun in rows that are 12 inches apart, and thin then seedlings to one plant every 6 inches after they begin to grow. Provide regular water, and harvest when the leaves are large enough to use.
Turnips (greens or roots) Sow seed in full sun and well-drained soil, ½ inch deep, eight to ten seeds per foot in rows 12 inches apart. When the seedlings are 4 inches tall, thin them to about three inches apart. You should have greens to harvest in about five weeks. If you grow turnips for the roots, harvest them when they are about 2 – 3 inches in diameter.
August garden calendar
If you still have a bounty of summer produce, there are ideas for enjoying it, plus garden tips and tasks in the August Garden Calendar at Tennessean.com
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
Sept. 7 – Beekeeping 101, backyard beekeeping basics, 10 a.m. – noon at WarnerParkNatureCenter. This adult-level class is led by Vera Vollbrecht, Melissa Donahue, and Dganit Eldar. Call to register, 352-6299.
Sept. 17 – Perennial Plant Society meets at Cheekwood in Botanic Hall, speaker is landscape designer Marty DeHart on “Problem Area Perennials.” Refreshments at 6:30, meeting at 7, open to the public.
Sept. 21 – Oct. 31: Cheekwood Harvest Fall Festival includes scarecrows along the garden paths, a pumpkin patch, guided garden tours and nearly 5,000 autumn-hued chrysanthemums in the Robertson Ellis Color Garden, planted specifically for Cheekwood Harvest. The full schedule is at www.cheekwood.org
Sept. 26: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society meets at Cheekwood in the Potter Room; speaker is David Bates of Bates Nursery on shrubs that tolerate shade for use in hosta gardens. The meeting is at 6:30 and is open to the public.
Sept. 28: Welcoming Fall Wildflower Hike at ShelbyBottomsNatureCenter. A short naturalist-led hike for all ages, 10 – 11 a.m. Call (862-8539) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to register.
At WarnerParkNatureCenter, Deb Beazley leads adults on a stroll through a meadow to enjoy the fall wildflowers, 9 – 11 a.m. Call 352-6299 to register.