How can you enjoy more of your summer garden in the fall?

Published 9:02 pm Saturday, August 16, 2008

I am sure most of you are thankful for all the recent showers. We have been in a dry spell for the last few months and while these showers do not change that status they do provide us some great relief for our lawns, trees and overall annual precipitation needs. As your lawns and gardens appreciate these rains, here are some things to consider while trying to extend the life of both throughout the year.

Q. What advice can you give on extending the life of a summer garden into a fall garden?

This question is not easily answered in a few words, but I will give you the facts and let you decide what to do.

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Fall gardens are usually easier maintained than summer gardens for many reasons; less pest activity, lower disease pressures, reduced heat and scalding, and cooler temperatures to name a few. But yes, your summer crops can be extended into a productive fall garden with proper care. First make sure it is a productive, healthy, disease free plant that has suffered minimal pest or structural damage. If these traits are all positive then you may have a good candidate to continue producing until frost or cold weather slows them down. Tomato, okra, peppers and eggplant are all good plants to extend into a fall production scenario. If you are not sure about your ability to help plants survive this long and prefer to go an easy route then simply replant. Some good vegetables to consider for a fall garden include; snap beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, onions, spinach and turnips to name a few. Just keep in mind many of these plants die off after the first frost so calculate the growth time to harvest date and plant your plants at least that far ahead of the first expected frost to ensure you are able to enjoy your harvest!

Q. What is the green worm eating my lawn?

Usually I would try to hold off this question until rye grass is planted in the fall and hunters and farmers are facing this problem with great aggravation, but this year it came early. Armyworms are menacing pests that have the ability to deplete and entire lawn over night. But don’t panic yet. Armyworms during summer months will usually target irrigated lawns but with recent rains and new lush plant growth they can become more active than normal. In the summer months their primarily target is Bermuda grass lawns, especially newly planted. If you have a St. Augustine lawn like the vast majority of the Miss-Lou or centipede lawn then your chances of this problem are reduced significantly as they do not prefer these species. The good news is they are easy to control. Start by looking in the turf canopy once a week and if you see the light green caterpillars moving around it is time to act. If you detect them in the beginning stages products containing carbaryl, permethrin or lambda-cyhalothrin will provide good control and save your lawn. This is a topic I am sure we will discuss more in the coming months.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-442-8201.