Question: I didn’t do much in my vegetable garden this spring, but I would still like to get something from it. Is there anything that I can plant now and harvest before the frost this fall?
Answer: We’re actually at the beginning of the planting season for fall harvest. There are several veggies you can start planting now and others to plant over the next several weeks.
You can still plant cabbages for the next week or so. Beets, kale, lettuce and spinach can be planted for the next few weeks. Onions can be planted during the first half of August. Peas can also be planted at this time.
When planting a fall garden, check the “days to harvest” on your seed packets. Count back from our average frost date on your calendar to find your planting date. The average first frost date for Utah County is Oct. 15, but different areas of the county may have frost a week or more earlier or later than that. Once you know your planting date, add about a week to your schedule to give yourself some “frost insurance.”
For vegetables that will be harvested over the course of a week or two, like peas, you’ll want to add several more days to your schedule so that you can harvest more than once.
Vegetables like kale, spinach and lettuce don’t mind a little frost. Beets and carrots can be left in the ground clear into the winter and harvested whenever the garden soil isn’t frozen.
Question: I tried planting a fall garden last year, but some of the plants never came up. Is there something special that I should have done?
Answer: Some cool season vegetables don’t germinate easily at higher temperatures. For example, lettuce doesn’t germinate very well when temperatures are above 80 degrees. To get around this problem, you can start your heat sensitive seeds indoors and move them out into the garden after they germinate.
Soil moisture is another challenge with planting a fall crop. Some vegetables have small seeds that aren’t planted very deeply. In our hot summer days, the very top of the soil can dry out pretty quickly. Watering daily to prevent this would mean overwatering the rest of your garden.
The simple solution for this is to cover your planting with something like folded newspaper, old shingles or broken vertical blind slats to hold in the moisture. Use your smartphone to give you daily reminders in the morning and evening so that you can check for germination under the coverings. As soon as you see little green sprouts, it’s important that you take off the covering so that the sprouts get the sunlight they need.
Question: I’ve been using about a pound of nitrogen on my lawn when I fertilize, but should I cut that in half when I fertilize this month?
Answer: June, July and August are months when we should let our lawns rest. The cool-season grasses that we use in our lawns find our hot summer days a little stressful. Nitrogen stimulates tender green growth that can struggle in the heat. Go ahead and fertilize your lawn in the spring, at the end of the summer and in the fall, but let it rest during the heat of summer.
When you do fertilize, apply between one-half to one pound of nitrogen for each 1,000 square feet of lawn, but not more than that. Remember that the numbers on the fertilizer package are percentages, so you’ll need to do a little math to figure out how many pounds of the actual product you should use.