Fall planting how-to's --9-8-14

(A selection of lettuce ready for fall planting. For an enlarged view, click on the picture.)


Is your vegetable garden over for 2014? Not unless you want it to be. There is still time, according to the University of Maryland’s Grow it, Eat It Web site, to plant things for fall and winter harvest. So make room in the garden, by ripping out what’s done or on its last legs, to make a bed for the new stuff.

If you go to www.extension.umd.edu/growit/vegetable , you’ll find a calendar that tells you what you can plant when. In the same section of the site, there are also “plant profiles” that cover care and harvest.

The calendar says that for late August until mid-September, you can put it transplants of broccoli, cabbage and collards and direct-seed endive and kale. If you haven’t done fall planting before, I don’t recommend endive. It requires a multi-step method of cultivation that includes growing roots, then storing them until the proper planting time. Maybe you’re better organized than I am, but my stored roots would be found sometime next March, in a rotted mess.

On the other vegetable, Grow It, Eat It recommends the following:

Broccoli: If you’re buying transplants for this crop, make sure they’ve been hardened off by storing them outside. Mix compost into the planting soil and side-dress after three weeks with 10-10-10 fertilizer (1/4 pound of 10-10-10 per 10 foot row).

To prevent weeds, mulch the plants. Water deeply when they’re planted and later on, when heads begin to develop.

Cabbage: Cabbage is a cold-hardy plant that can stand temperatures in the 15- to 20-degree (Farenheit) range. When putting in the transplants, use a starter fertilizer, then side-dress three weeks later with 1/4 cup of 10-10-10 per 10-foot row. Give transplants plenty of space. Unless they have a foot or more, the heads will be small.

Collards and kale, mustard, turnips and pac choi: Sow seeds four inches apart in rows 8 to 12 inches apart. For fertilizer, use well-rotted manure at planting time. I’ve used composted cow manure in the past, the kind that’s been prepared and bagged up at the nursery. When the bugs began attacking my green beans, I side-dressed with it and the stuff gave the beans the vigor to fight off the predators. If you have another source of manure, put it in the compost pile and add organic material so that it breaks down enough not to burn vegetables.

In regard to turnips, there are varieties that can be grown for both their greens and the roots below. Turnips will also survive through the winter in the garden, provided they’re heavily mulched. In that way, you can dig up what you need when you need it.


Want to know whether your lawn is infested with grubs? Check out the Bug of the Week Web site run by Michael J. Raupp, a University of Maryland Professor of Entomology. I found it at www.bugoftheweek.com when I was looking for detail on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. The

featured bug for Sept. 1 is the blue-winged digger wasp (scolia dubia) that preys on grubs. Look for it flying above your lawn.


I’ve been fighting the good fight against hedge bindweed, burdock and pokeberries, which are working to drop their seeds before I can get to them. Now the black walnuts have begun to fall, as have the Chinese chestnut cases, which resemble golf balls covered with sharp spines. 

In the corner of our property that we’ve let go back to woods, I’m removing downed tree branches so that it will be easier for the dog and me to check the old groundhog holes for any sign of new incursions. What an odd pleasure it is to get such fun out of sniffing everything on the ground and then, if it smells especially good, to roll in it.


(Did you enjoy this column? If so, please send suggestions or constructive criticism to bobmaginnis@myactv.net.)



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