Start thinking about fall plants

Published 1:38 am Sunday, August 5, 2007

It may not seem logical but as we are enter August and the heat seems unbearable it is time to consider what you will plant for a fall vegetable garden.

There are several things to consider before deciding what to plant; crop rotations, weather patterns, diseases, and more.

Here are some basic answers to some common fall gardening questions.

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Q. When should I begin preparing a fall garden?

A lot of the plants we harvest in fall gardens do not survive the winter frost, so you need to consider that in your garden plans. For example if it takes 60 days to begin harvesting a plant it needs to be planted a minimum of 60 days before risk of the first freeze to get anything at all.

I would recommend you soon begin planting those plants that are very susceptible to freeze. Crops like lettuce, carrots, and broccoli can be planted latter as they handle cold weather better. Some good vegetables to consider for a fall garden include snap beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, onions, spinach and turnips to name a few.

Q. Should I rotate plants in my garden?

Soil carries many diseases that harm plants — whisker rot in okra is a prime example that I have seen in local gardens.

Therefore using crop rotation as a gardening practice is always a wise decision. When deciding what to rotate use plants from groups that are not related.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service Web site has a full list of these. If you have tomatoes planted you can rotate them with cucumbers, squash, peanuts, turnips, or broccoli to name a few options.

For snap beans, rotate with collards, cabbage, eggplants, tomatoes or irish potatoes. For squash rotate with southern peas, lima beans, collards, mustards or snap beans.

The options are endless and by having a good gardening plan on paper and proper rotation practices you can enjoy garden fresh produce with less problems and more produce.

Q. Can my spring and summer vegetables make it into a fall garden?

Fall gardens are easier on plants partially because there is less disease and pest problems to deal with and the sun and heat is not as brutal.

It is usually easier to replant for a fall garden but many people like to prune summer plants back and try to have a fall harvest.

When deciding about trying to carry a plant from a summer to fall garden, the first decision should be to make sure it is a healthy plant, disease and pest free.

Injured plants tend to have a significantly lower survival rates when attempting to carry them this far. Tomato, okra, peppers, and eggplant, if properly cared for during the summer, continue to produce until cold slows them down and frost kills them.

It is your decision to try to prune back and get a fall crop, some people are successful with it.

However, if you are not experienced, I would recommend you take the easier, more successful road and simply replant for your fall garden.

David Carter is director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at