Click Here to download flyer –> End of Season
Click Here to download flyer –> End of Season
For the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer, there is still time to put seeds and plants in the ground. There are many choices available in vegetables and cover crops to take advantage of the cooler fall harvest weather and utilize the abundant rainfall and still optimal soil temperature, especially if the grower has the ability to utilize season extension.
Those who followed the Fall Vegetable Planting timeline are harvesting basil, lettuce, radishes, green beans and summer squash now. Monitor for frost closely and be ready to use season extension to protect tender crops.
There are still some choices to direct seed, these will need season extension to allow harvest into November and later:
There are several pests to continue to monitor for this time of year. Slugs will be numerous if organic matter levels are moderate to high. Deer are a serious threat due to decreasing amounts of fresh forage. They will consume nearly all fall planted vegetables without protection. The Cabbage White butterfly can persist in the environment deep into fall and their larvae can eat large amounts of foliage.
Spinach that will be grown overwinter in low tunnels under row cover should be planted withing the next couple weeks from direct seed. Check out this Growing Franklin post for a documentation of that process.
It is important to keep something growing all year long and avoid bare ground. This is especially critical over winter to avoid loss of fertility and organic matter from erosion. There are still several choices available including grasses such as rye or oats, legumes such as crimson clover or vetch and brassicas such as forage radishes. The choice of what to plant depends on what the goal is, what crop will follow and the grower’s ability to manage the crop in the spring.
This past weekend I prepared the area that had previously grown cucurbits into a seedbed.
I had used woven plastic landscape fabric as mulch and weed suppression for my winter squash and pumpkins. This was my first foray into using this method and I was impressed by how effective it was. The only drawback was that after removal the ground had reverted to its base state as a heavy clay soil. I think it is imperative that I cover crop following plasticulture to improve soil health going forward.
There is still time to plant cover crops. I planted a mix of winter rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover and forage radish. This mix will require intensive management in spring, but will persist over winter and provide multiple soil health benefits.
To find out about cover crops, fall vegetable planting as well as many other topics there will be a class on Fall Garden Projects to Benefit the Spring Garden at Grandview Heights Public Library on Tuesday October 16th, at 7pm.
It is common to not really want to think about additional work at the end of a gardening season, especially one that had as many heat and water challenges as this season did, but fall is the best time to do many things in the garden that if you wait for spring, you lose your best chance.
The best things to do in Fall to prepare for Spring include:
Lets go over them one at a time.
A great place to read about cover crops is from SARE, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. They have a Learning Center Online with great information and free publications.
Try to spend some time this fall working on making your garden better for next year. What worked for you this year and what did not? Take pictures with your phone to document the garden so you can use that for crop rotations. I try to add a new plant species each year and get rid of one that was not successful.
In spring time when you want to get planting you will be happy to have a new garden with great soil, some compost to add, and clean tools. That way you can start planting right away.
SUPER FUN BONUS SECTION: Want to make an easy cheap compost pile you can move anywhere?
There will be a class on projects that can be done in the fall that will make your spring garden easier to start and more productive during the season. Topics will include soil health, composting, garden expansion, cover crops, soil testing and more. Bring your friends and your questions to this free event presented in partnership with The Grandview Heights Public Library.
Click HERE for flyer to download and print –> GV Library Fall to Spring Garden
There will be a free class as well as a garden walk at The Friend’s Garden on Saturday September 22nd at 9;00 am. Come learn some new techniques to build soil health and incorporating organic matter into your garden.
Click HERE for flyer to download and print –> Hugelkultur and Lasagna Layering Flyer for 9/22/18
A garden walk is upcoming to address concerns and answer questions related to late summer production with an eye towards growing in fall and winter. It is free and open to the public.
Click here to download and print the flyer -> Summer Garden Walk Ag Lit #2
The most recent edition of OSU Agronomy’s C.O.R.N. newsletter published by my Extension colleagues gave the September and October weather predictions that will impact harvest of agronomic crops. The backyard grower, community gardener, and urban farmer can use this data to make plans for season extended plantings by applying frost dates and predicted temperatures and rainfall amounts into the planting schedule.
September/October Temperature and Precipitation Forecasts
(credit Jim Noel, C.O.R.N Newsletter, 2018-28)
What does this mean for plantings?
El Nino Update (8/9/18)
El Nino winters in central Ohio average warmer than normal temperatures with less than normal snowfall. Current the National Weather Service has an El Nino Watch in place.
Ohio is a FOUR season growing environment. Winter is often under utilized by the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer as viable production time. Using inexpensive equipment with a little planning allows for production of spinach over the winter under row cover with surprising success.
Site selection and preparation is very important for over wintered crops. These crops will be challenged by weather and sunlight issues. Areas with shade from deciduous trees in the summer can often be used as an over wintered production location when the leaves fall. Soil enriched with organic matter will hold on to water and nutrients better as both of those inputs are not easily added over the winter season.
Spinach is an excellent choice for over winter production as it is extremely cold hardy. As the temperature decreases the plant increases the sugar content in its vasculature. This essentially acts as an “anti-freeze” to protect the plant. Growth is greatly slowed by temperature and lack of sunlight. Growth will pick back up with the arrival of spring. Seed can be difficult to source in fall if none is left from spring planting. Make sure to plan to have extra seed for next fall’s crop.
Planting needs to be completed prior to Mid-October in most years to allow for decent germination and root growth. Follow the weather prediction models carefully as this can affect timing of planting by several weeks in either direction.
Prior to planting:
Row cover was applied immediately after planting. This may or may not need to be done depending on location and security. This row cover was applied as the location will be checked infrequently and deer pressure is a constant concern. Row cover is fairly effective at preventing this predator.
Germination of spinach seed typically takes about 7-10 days. Water as needed to maintain enough moisture for good germination.
If the weather allows, the row cover can be carefully lifted off, making sure not to drop soil or debris onto the leaves, to inspect the planting.
Carefully monitor the weather predictions so that you know when to add or remove additional layers of row cover. The ten day weather prediction showed that the weather would drop from a high in the 50’s to lows in the teens.
A second layer of frost blanket was added to ensure that the micro-climate under the row cover would be adequate to protect the spinach plants. Spinach is extremely cold hardy and will make it through intense cold with proper protection in most cases. Deep cold may terminate less cold hardy crops like lettuce if the temperatures drop very low for any period of time.
Extreme cold, wind, ice and snow were experienced over the end of December 2017 and through the beginning of 2018. Snow is actually helpful to over wintered plantings, providing an extra layer of insulation.
As the weather allows, once temperatures have risen to at least the 40’s or higher, the row cover can be lifted to inspect the plantings and take a small to moderate harvest. Make sure to replace the row cover with enough time to allow the temperature under the cover to rise prior to any over night cold periods.
Growth will be rapid once spring warmth and sunlight return. The grower will be able to take many harvests during warm days at any point after February in most cases.
As long as harvest is taken before flowering and temperatures have not risen too high, harvest can continue. A large volume of spinach can be harvested from a small area using this method.
Many backyard growers, community gardeners and urban farmers rely on pollinators as crucial members of their food production systems. Right now is when Monarch Butterflies are in the chrysalis period with an upcoming trip to Mexico. This was shot on location at The Children’s Garden at the Hocking County Fairgrounds over the course of 2017 from beginning of the process through the migration period as a way to educate students about pollinators.
In collaboration with Hocking Soil and Water Conservation District.