Now’s the time for cool-weather vegetables

By Gregg Eyestone

Seeing all the vegetables at the county fair got me inspired to plant. Even the largest beet display convinced me to plant beets - and I’m not even fond of them. Many vegetable crops can be planted over the next few weeks.

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables. Mix it with carrots and cauliflower when cooking and it will be devoured. Starting broccoli indoors works best for me. Use fresh, moist potting media in a container. In a few days, the seeds will germinate indoors. Bright light and cool temperatures are needed to get a short, stocky transplant. Airflow over the seedlings will make a tough enough plant for growing outdoors.

Kale, lettuce, radish, spinach and turnips are other vegetables to plant now. Kale and spinach may remain over winter in the garden and provide early harvest next spring.

Many of the vegetables planted in fall can grow all season in a good-sized container. I will grow a couple of my broccoli plants in containers on the deck. These crops are frost hardy but I can move the containers inside and see how long I can grow them.

Challenges with these crops are pests, moisture and temperatures. Warm soil temperatures get the plants off to a quick start. Normally, it cools off so that these cool-season vegetables will grow to a bountiful harvest. Moisture is required for seed germination and rapid growth. Plan on watering your crops. Insects or other chewing pests will need to be managed. New, young plants are hard for bugs to resist.

Fertilizer is usually not necessary for these fall crops. Monitor your crops’ growth to determine fertilizer needs. A fertilizer will only be required if you are growing in a soil-less mix in a container. I use a slow release granular product mixed into my containers at planting.

Lettuce, radishes and beets can be covered when it is going to frost. Typically, a few nights of cold are followed by several more growing days. Other vegetables are hardier, but will need covered if it is forecasted for the mid- to low-20s.

Cool-season vegetables that mature in the cool weather have better flavors. If you haven’t experience fresh fall vegetables, it is worth the effort.

Find more information on gardening by going to Contact Gregg Eyestone by calling 537-6350, visiting his office at 110 Courthouse Plaza or emaiing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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