Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fall Garden Festival in Crossville

Jerry and I spent the day yesterday enjoying the Fall Garden Festival at the Plateau Experiment Station near Crossville, TN. In case you missed my presentation on fall vegetable gardening, I am posting the information from the handout I provided to festival attendees. You can email me with fall gardening questions, if you like.

Don’t Stop Now: Third Season Gardening in Tennessee
The approximate date of the first frost is October 20.
The approximate date of the first hard freeze is November 20.
You may have time for broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower if you can find good plants, or have already started seeds.
Think leafy greens and root crops for your main focus.
Fast maturity, frost tolerance, and overwintering capability are important considerations.
Pre-soak seeds to speed germination, especially carrots, parsley, beets and kale; direct sown seeds will germinate quickly in warm soil.
Some good choices and approximate maturity times are:

                arugula – 30-45 days
                bak choy – about 40 days
                beets – about 60 days, O
                carrots – about 60 days, O
                chard – about 60 days, O
                chervil – about 45 days, O
                cilantro – about 30 days, O
                cress – about 40 days
                kale – about 75 days, O
                lettuce – about 60 days
                mache – about 60 days
                mizuna – about 40 days
                mustard – about 40-60 days
                parsley – about 70 days, O
                scallions – about 60 days, O
                spinach—about 50 days
                tatsoi – about 45 days
                turnips – 30-45 days, O
O = often will overwinter in garden

Using season extending techniques can add up to a month of grow/harvest time.
Grow smaller plants in containers that can be moved indoors at night.
Use spaces where summer annuals grew for additional growing opportunities.
Covering a raised bed with plastic held up by PVC hoops has proven to be one of the cheapest, most effective methods for extending the season.
You can also build a temporary cold frame, using straw bales or concrete blocks and some old window sashes. (Check a window replacement company for these.)

Some Recommended Varieties

These recommendations are based on experience in our Zone 6b garden. All these vegetables can be direct seeded for fall harvest.

arugula – Speedy, Even’Star Winter, Roquette, “wild”
bak choy – Mei Quing
beets – Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder Tall Top
carrots – Atlas (containers), Little Finger, Danvers 126
chard – Lucullus, Neon Lights
chervil – Brussels Winter
cilantro – few named cultivars
cress – Belle Isle
kale – Dwarf Blue Curled, Lacinato, Red Russian, Vates
lettuce – Rougette de Montpelier, Tom Thumb, Ashley, Lollo Rossa, Rouge d’Hiver, Forrellenschluss,     Freckles, many others
mache – Salad Zing, Vit
mizuna – few named cultivars
mustard – Red Giant
parsley – Moss Curled, Italian
scallions – Evergreen White Bunching
spinach—Winter Bloomsdale
tatsoi –few named cultivars
turnips – Seven Top

                You can also plant transplants of these varieties. Garden centers typically have plants ready at the proper time for their location. These vegetables require about six weeks from seed to transplanting size, and so must be started in mid- to late-July for September transplanting. Once they resume growth, they are generally very cold tolerant.

broccoli—Di Cicco, Waltham 29
Brussels sprouts—Catskill
cabbage—Early Jersey Wakefield, Savoy Perfection
cauliflower—Snowball Self-Blanching (fall planted only)
kale—(see above)
kohlrabi—Early Purple Vienna
leek—King Sieg, Broad London, American Flag

Perennial onion bulbs are also planted in fall.

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