Seeking tips for planting a fall garden

Discussion in 'Vegetables' started by Purrfluff, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    Greetings and salutations!

    I was hoping to get some sage advice from those with more experience than I.

    For some weird personal reasons I got a bug to plant a fall garden. The bug didn't bite until mid August so I'm kind of a month or two behind fall garden planting.

    I've never done this before so I'm not sure what to expect. Here in in the Willamette Valley we (usually) have relatively mild winters. So I'm hoping I have time to get some stuff planted and get some kind of crop by November. The average date of first frost here is around mid November.

    I've tried to select veggies that can handle the cold and will still grow a bit in the autumn. So far I've planted: Broccoli, cauliflower, head cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, collards, radishes, corn salad/mache, beans, beets, peas, carrots, leeks, green onions, bok choy, turnips, rutabagas, parsley, dill, kohlrabi, chard, mustard, and spinach.

    I also planted some old cucumber seeds and some basil even though I know they won't survive. I've got seeds for broccoli rabb and Chinese cabbage coming in the mail. I considered celery and celeriac but figured it wouldn't actually grow fast enough for a harvest. I planted some garlic cloves but I think I soaked them to death before putting them in soil and are probably toast.

    I've gotten germination from most, but not all of the seeds I put in. No true leaves yet except for a couple of bean seedlings.

    The hope is that I get some crops that will mature and survive through Christmas.

    So... I'm seeking tips, tricks, advice, etc, if you would be so kind. I have a couple of specific issues that are bugging me but nothing major has come up yet.

    Thanks in advance and apologies for the long post.
     
    Purrfluff, Aug 26, 2017
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  2. Purrfluff

    Robert Cummings

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    Not sure if you grow parsnips where you are but if you can they taste better after they've had frost on them and are a great winter veg which you grow, pick cook and eat.We don't even store them here as quite happy to stay in the ground till needed.
     
    Robert Cummings, Aug 26, 2017
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  3. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    I will have parsnip seeds coming in the mail. I intend to plant them immediately. I have some hopes they will withstand frost and give me a root or two by december. Which could be wishful thinking.
     
    Purrfluff, Aug 26, 2017
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  4. Purrfluff

    Beth_B

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    No advice but that is one heck of a fall crop!
     
    Beth_B, Aug 26, 2017
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  5. Purrfluff

    MaryMary

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    Welcome to the forum, Purrfluff
    !! :)


    There is a website I have bookmarked for future reference which may be helpful. :unsure: I have not tried any of the tips, but a lot of them sound reasonable.


    They have posted tips and tricks for zones 3 through 10. If you scroll down to below the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map, you can click a link to go directly to your zone. (Might also be helpful to read the tips for the next zone colder, too!! (y).)


    Hope that helps, and good luck!! Keep us posted! :)
     
    MaryMary, Aug 26, 2017
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  6. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    Thank you! I'll check that out.

    Seeds came today so I will sow them. I also tried planting some nasturtium seeds and oddly enough they have yet to germinate after a couple of weeks. My mother has planted nasturtiums before and they gave her no trouble. I must be doing something wrong.

    I want those because I hear they can divert cabbage worms/cabbage moths. If my stuff grows well these little buggers will become a serious problem. I have bt spray for them but I've never used it before and am unsure of the efficacy.

    Is there a way to speed up the growth of these plants? I figure the majority of their growth will occur in september with maybe some in october.
     
    Purrfluff, Aug 26, 2017
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  7. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    I got my seeds from Territorial Seeds today and have already planted most of them. I was very lucky and found some starts at Home Depot for broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and bok choy (they called it "red choi"). I'm hoping these are my backup if the seeds don't pan out.

    Oddly enough, at least one row of my bok choy seeds still hasn't germinated. I thought they were usually pretty fast.
     
    Purrfluff, Aug 27, 2017
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  8. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    It may be bad form to add to my own thread but... most of the seeds have germinated after a couple of weeks in the ground. But they aren't growing as quickly as I would have expected (perhaps my expectations were out of whack).

    I would have expected some true leaves by now. Would there be any point to putting fertilizer on them at this point? I don't know if the root system is developed enough to actually take in plant food.
     
    Purrfluff, Aug 28, 2017
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  9. Purrfluff

    Beth_B

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    Are they getting enough warmth and light?
    Photos would help, if you can.
     
    Beth_B, Aug 28, 2017
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  10. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    Most of them are planted in full sun. A couple of rows are shaded part of the day by other plants or raised beds. As for warmth... they may be getting too much. It has been unseasonably hot here all summer and the heat continues. It was 99 degrees F today. That is almost unheard of for this time of year in my part of Oregon.

    I have been watering them every day. In some instances twice a day because the heat is beating the life out of the more established plants.

    Oddly enough I saw a couple of (very tiny) true leaves on some of the dill. But the cabbage family crops and lettuce remain stubborn.

    September is going to be their prime month for growth so I want them to get to it.
     
    Purrfluff, Aug 29, 2017
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  11. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    Update on 9/16/2017:

    Most of the crops have sprung to life with the nagging exception of the parsnips.

    The collards have gone mad. They have grown large very fast. Much faster than I would have anticipated. They are supposed to mature in something like 60-70 days. It's been less than 30.

    Some of the bok choy has bolted already. I was floored when I saw the seed stalks. Once again, these plants are less than 30 days old and it's fall. I didn't expect bolting to come, if at all, until November.

    I assume this is the result of the unseasonably hot weather we've had in the last month. Even my mother, who has seen it all, was surprised to see the bok choy bolt this fast.

    I hope it doesn't turn the greens bitter. I might have time for some succession plantings if I can find space somewhere.

    A week of heavy rain is forecast and I don't know what this means for my plants. They could use a good soaking but this may be too much.
     
    Purrfluff, Sep 17, 2017
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  12. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    Update: (Yes, I know this is boring and long winded. Please forgive me) on 9/25/2017:

    Three raised opened up so I put some new seeds in. Mostly lettuce along with some peas, carrots, parsnips and some cabbage. I hope I selected either fast growing or cold resistance or both. Seed selection this time of year isn't great except for mail order.

    My hope is that the lettuce grows fast enough that some can be harvested in a month or so. If the weather cooperates there may be some into December.

    I put in the parsnips purely out of stubbornness. I sowed Cobham Improved parsnips from Territorial seed. Out of at least a hundred seeds sown about a dozen germinated. This is from a variety with "vigorous germination". I'd hate to see what normal germination looks like.

    Actually, I will find out since the newly sown parsnip seeds are Harris Model from Ed Hume seeds. If I get even three viable plants out of that seed packet I will be surprised.

    Right now I am trying to do mulching. I am finding this more difficult than I expected because in order to get the mulch (usually bark dust) around is causing me to snap a lot of leaves off. The plants are just too low and the leaves too wide to easily get to the roots. I am also unintentionally burying a lot of their leaves under the mulch.

    But I've read that a fall garden must have mulch to protect it from cold and dry wind in winter.

    I am seeking a secondary source of mulch by raking up fallen tree leaves and then bagging them with the lawn mower. I wanted to use straw mulch but we don't know where to get it, how much it costs, and how to deploy it. I'm also dumping some of the leaves into the compost heap. I am really hoping to re-start the compost pile.

    Most of my pea and bean seedings were eaten by damned slugs.
     
    Purrfluff, Sep 26, 2017
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  13. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    Yet another unsolicited update on 10/1/2017:

    The weather around here is pissing me off. In my area fall is typically wet. Not this time. I got one day of scattered rain. I am having to water my plants in October for lack of rain. Which is almost unheard of here.

    Granted, the dryness gives me more opportunity to get out in the garden. But my plants and the compost heap need a good soaking. The weather forecast shows nothing but dry days. And my father, quite rightly, is peeved about the water bill. I also worry that I am emptying half the clackamas river to water my garden.

    The newly sown radishes and some lettuce have already germinated, which is grand. I hope there is enough growing season left for the radishes and lettuce to actually produce something.

    I really should have done a better job of thinning my plants when they were smaller. The beets are too close together and I can't figure out where one plant starts and the other begins. After somewhat viciously thinning the beets I think I made a mistake and I'm going to stop thinning.

    I do hope my radicchio starts to form heads soon. Along with the cabbage. I have both green and red cabbage in the ground and they have yet to form heads. Oddly, this is true both for the plants I started from seed and the older starts I got from the nursery.

    I do fear that I will not get a crop of broccoli or brussels sprouts. The broccoli plants are only about three or four inches high and are leggy. The brussels sprouts plants are even smaller and show no sign of creating a thick stalk for sprouts.

    On the other hand I think I will get some decent turnips and rutabagas if they overwinter. The red sails lettuce is doing nicely.

    And I was able to harvest some collards and mustard greens. Swiss chard is next and probably a light harvest of butter lettuce. I am waiting for someone to want to eat arugula.

    And last but certainly not least: Two of the pea plants have put out flowers!
     
    Purrfluff, Oct 2, 2017
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  14. Purrfluff

    roadrunner

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    I live in Florida with very sandy soil, which doesn't hold water at all. Yet, because of my heavy mulching, which not only traps moisture, but also builds up the sandy soil into crumbly, loamy soil that retains a lot of moisture. I have grown broccoli with no problems and no large water bills -- actually I never watered them.

    Maybe look at different ways of gardening. Here's basically what I do...
     
    roadrunner, Oct 2, 2017
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  15. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    May I ask what kind of mulch you use? I've started mulching my plants but I can't seem to get close enough to the roots withouts smashing the leaves of the crops.

    I have used two mulches so far. Bark dust and shredded leaves.
     
    Purrfluff, Oct 2, 2017
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  16. Purrfluff

    roadrunner

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    I don't buy mulch, much like the guy in the video I linked above, I use all kinds of materials as mulch, which I gather from my neighbors that put out bags of yard waste for city pick-up.

    In the video, they guy uses the analogy of one's healthy diet to ingredients of mulch, which is an apt analogy, but I look at things from a bio-diversity angle, thus I see mulch as adding to the bio-diversity of my soil life; therefore, I use virtually everything as mulch, not just one thing.

    Much of what I use are leaves, but leaves of various plants, but not just leaves, I also break up sticks, because they are also important for feeding the soil and I bury logs into the ground, much like the hugelkultur method, but I also throw in my kitchen scraps and all other yard waste. And when the plants die, I simply chop and drop them back into the garden.


     
    roadrunner, Oct 3, 2017
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  17. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    I applied some well shredded leaves as mulch to a row of turnips. I think it basically blocked the soil off from receiving water. I had to shove a bunch of it away today in order to get enough water to the plant to un wilt it.

    Which is pretty much the opposite of what I was hoping for. I probably dumped four gallons of water (via watering cans) to the turnips and they didn't perk up much.

    I did accidentally pull the taproot of one plant out of the soil and it's about half an inch in diameter. These things may not be ready even by springtime.

    My plan is to till all the plants back into the soil in spring. My hope is that most of these will overwinter and be a pseudo cover crop.

    Basically, no one has ever really tried to improve this soil. We used the raised beds to get around it, which is fine. But I'd like to try and improve the soil if I can. Granted, that will take several years.
     
    Purrfluff, Oct 4, 2017
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  18. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    I realize this has become something of an unsolicited blog and for that I apologize.

    Update on 10/8/2017:

    We finally had some rain. All of the plants have perked up as a result. There should be more rain this week which might actually be too much. But it's better than a desert.

    All of the bok choy except for tiny seedlings insists on bolting. They seem far more bolt prone than any of the other plants.

    I am now paying the price for my poor thinning earlier. The beets and other root crops are too close together and I think that is stunting their growth. But this also seems to apply to other plants. Some of the swiss chard was too close together and I think that caused the leaves to wilt. Presumably they don't have enough space to spread their roots.

    I have no idea how to properly thin carrots. Each carrot has many little shoots. And they all look the same. I can't figure out which stems go to what carrot. I don't know how to trim the stems so that I destroy a single discrete carrot instead of cutting half the stems of several carrots instead.

    The collards have gotten so large they are creating a sort of forest canopy in their raised bed. The spinach isn't happy but I'm impressed.

    I think I was too late in planting the broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Those plants are still leggy and not very large. They have been growing and look healthy but I see no signs of florets, heads, or sprouts. I suppose it's theoretically possible they will start producing in November but I figure their growing days are over for the season. If they overwinter they might produce in spring.

    Most of the peas that were eaten by the slugs did not bounce back. The few peas that didn't get munched, however, are flowering. I might get actual fresh peas before the first frost. The beans show signs they may wish to flower soon as well. They seem to have come back from being slug attacked better than the peas.

    The lettuce and daikon radish seed I planted has germinated. I probably won't get much, if any, growth on them before winter.

    The fava beans seem happy as a clam. The arugula has formed its own jungle.

    The most annoying thing at the moment is that the cabbage (both red and green) show no signs of forming heads. They have healthy looking leaves that are getting larger but nothing like a head is forming.

    Overall, the leafy greens have done well with the possible exception of the swiss chard. It probably just needs more time.
     
    Purrfluff, Oct 9, 2017
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  19. Purrfluff

    Purrfluff

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    Update on 10/14/2017:

    Holy cow, I got turnips! I was poking around one of the turnip rows and to my great amazement there were turnip roots poking out of the ground. I harvested three of them. One was the size of a softball.

    I am surprised by this because I think they matured faster than the seed packet said it would. I figured I wouldn't get anything out of them until December or possibly spring. Also, the radishes haven't matured yet and they are faster growing. Lastly, this is the only row of turnips that has matured and there are about three rows. It's possible I just hid the roots under mulch on the other rows.

    I tried the leaves of the plant and they didn't have much flavor. And they were kind of spiny. So the tops went into the compost heap.

    I realize it's weird to get this excited over a turnip but it's my first. Now I just have to figure out how to cook them. I would say the flavor of the turnip was like a radish but sweeter and less hot. The larger turnips seemed more spicy.

    The bok choy insists in bolting. But I tried some and it has very little bitterness. A gave some to a friend who liked it in his stir fry. The bok choy is by far the boltiest (I know that's not a word) of the veggies. The radishes tried to toss up one seed stalk as did the turnips. But that's all. Everything else seems content to have leaves.

    The rutabagas seem to be taking longer than the turnips to mature. I might have to dig one out just to check on that. The beets aren't even close to ready yet. I yanked several that were too close together and the roots are teeny. I think beets take a while though.

    This garden is going has taught me that thinning is necessary. I haven't gotten a mature kohlrabi yet and I think that's because of inadequate thinning. I pulled out some today for way overdue thinning and noticed that the stems are not straight. Instead they have grown sideways and then do a 90 degree turn upward.

    This also happened with the broccoli and the brussels sprouts. My guess is that this is the result of the plants being too close together or they aren't getting enough light and they are trying to grow towards it.

    The seeds I planted in October have mostly germinated but aren't really growing. It was a stupid idea but perhaps the seedlings can serve as a sort of of half assed cover crop.

    The dill has gotten large and leafy but hasn't flowered and probably isn't going to. It doesn't have much scent or flavor which I think may be the result of the copious rain.

    Hopefully frost is still a month away.
     
    Purrfluff, Oct 15, 2017 at 7:00 AM
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  20. Purrfluff

    MaryMary

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    I'm reading, I'm reading!! :LOL: :D I can't garden in October in Ohio, and I haven't grown a lot of what you're trying, but I am reading with interest! :)

    :unsure: If I might offer a piece of unsolicited advice - if you have any questions you really want addressed, you would probably get a better response to make a thread for each question (or vegetable) (or problem) individually. I quit counting at 25 different plants - I think you'd do better to break it up a bit. "Winter gardening" is one thing... but "This is doing this," and "that is doing that," and "How do I" and "Why is this..." well, I like reading it, but it's sort of a jumble...

    I can't help you here. :( (I've grown carrots once, and was stingy with my seeds, and threw them in big pinches at the area I wanted them. It was a very haphazard kind of thing - more experiment than actually trying to grow them. :whistle:.) I quoted this because this is an example of what I said above. I'm sure there are at least 10 people here that could explain how to thin vegetables... but if they have no interest in winter gardening, they'll probably never know you'd like to know. o_O



    I think part of the problem might be your soil temperature, instead of the seeds or seed company. (Can you get a temperature probe?) Here is a link to a couple charts that Chuck posted once, it's soil temperatures for seed germination, and days to appearance of seedlings at various temperatures. Very helpful. (y) (Thanks again, Chuck!! :D.)

    http://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/sites/default/files/Horticulture/documents/soiltemps.pdf




    It would work quicker if you grew an actual cover crop!! (y) Double-check my info, but if I plugged the right info into the search - :unsure: - here is a link to a list of annuals that will grow in Oregon that are all part of the Fabaceae family, which will fix nitrogen in your soil.
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/AdvancedSearchServlet (Oops, on looking at it again, I did not make sure that they were not invasive plants, so definitely do your research!! :eek:.)



    I love turnips! :love:

    :unsure: I think turnips are either grown for root vegetables or greens. Two varieties of the same plant, IOW. (Not that you can't eat it all, but different varieties are grown in accordance to what you want from it.)

    I found this about turnip greens: (More to read at the site which may be helpful.)




    They're good cooked with a roast. I like them boiled and mashed, like potatoes. I also like them boiled and mashed with potatoes. They add a nice zing! (y)

    A light frost will cause a lot of vegetables to make more sugars, and that will sweeten the taste a bit. I knew this about some of them, but not all the ones listed. http://www.thekitchn.com/food-science-vegetables-that-a-63776 You may want to harvest some before and some after a frost, to see which way you like them better! (y)


    I'll be watching for more updates! :D (y)
     
    MaryMary, Oct 16, 2017 at 6:07 AM
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