Fall Vegetable Gardens

Sunday, July 21, 2019 8:29 AM

Our weather was so wet this spring, my vegetable garden never really took off. I was thinking of starting a fall garden. What vegetables can I grow in the fall? BD

We feel your pain. Due to our wet spring, just about the time tomatoes started doing well, many gardeners started getting blossom drop. Blossom drop occurs when the nighttime temperatures are above 70 degrees and the daytime temperatures are consistently above 92 degrees. When this happens, the best plan is to help your tomato plants survive the summer so that they can begin to fruit again when the weather cools down. There is no need to pull them out and start with new plants, unless you have some disease issues going on and want a fresh start or to try a different variety.

What many people do not realize is that some of the best and tastiest vegetables are grown in the fall when warm sunny days and cool humid nights create wonderful growing conditions.

Fall crops can be divided into two groups: “tender” and “semi-hardy.” “Tender” means these vegetables will need to reach full maturity and production before the first frost bring their season to an end. “Semi-hardy” means these plants will continue to grow and have harvestable fruits until after several frosts.

In NE Oklahoma, November 15th is our average first freeze date. So, unless something unusual happens (in Oklahoma?) you can have fresh vegetables straight from the vine until November and then refrigerate the rest for continued enjoyment.

Good “tender” varieties you could plant now would include bush beans, lima beans, cucumber, and squash. “Semi-hardy” crops would include cabbage and cauliflower (transplants), collards, potatoes (seed potatoes), kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnips, radish, swiss chard, and turnips.

Beginning in September, you can plant garlic and onions which are great crops to start in the fall as they grow all winter. If you do this, in late spring next year you can harvest fresh garlic and onions to last you the entire year (if you grew enough).

Whether you have a summer or fall garden, mulch should be an important part of your garden strategy as it helps retain moisture as well as reduce the need for weeding. In addition, mulch helps control soil temperature swings during the day. The soil temperature of un-mulched soil can vary up to 30 degrees per day with mulch reducing that to 10-15 degrees per day. Your plants will be happier and perform better with mulch. In addition, mulch can provide a barrier for soil borne diseases such as septoria leaf spot in tomatoes.

If your spring and summer garden struggled or you just want to keep the harvest going, fall gardens are a great choice.

You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th Street, or by emailing us at mg@tulsamastergardeners.org.