We’re heading into prime planting time for a crop of fall vegetables. Lettuce, spinach and peas prefer cooler weather and the flavors of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli improve when grown in fall.
As tomatoes, peppers, corn and other warm-season vegetables start to wane, pull them from the garden to make room for a fall crop. Work in a little compost in the area where you pull out the summer crops before sowing seed or transplanting starts of vegetables.
Lettuce, peas, spinach and bush beans are easy to grow from seed, which can be sown directly in the soil. Select varieties that grow and mature quickly. As a guide, seed packets list the days to maturity. Some garden centers also offer transplants for a fall vegetable crop.
Spread a thin layer of compost over the seeds to keep the soil from crusting over during the last hot days of summer. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Once the seeds have sprouted, keep the seedlings evenly moist.
If the soil is too warm, lettuce may not germinate, so plant the seeds a little deeper where the soil is a bit cooler. Or, shade the soil until seedlings are established.
These plants are semi-hardy and can handle a light frost: beets, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, Chinese cabbage, endive, lettuce, parsnip and potato.
These plants are very cold tolerant and can handle a hard frost: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, onion, parsley, peas, radish, spinach and turnip.
Purdue University has a detailed pamphlet on the fall vegetable garden.
Fall crop seed sale
Renee’s Garden is offering a 30 percent-off sale on seeds for fall crops. Enter code Sale209 at the Web site when you check out.
Donate extra produce
If your summer crops are coming on too fast for you to eat, consider donating the produce to a soup kitchen, church pantry or other facility that feeds the hungry.
Second Helpings, 1121 Southeastern Ave., (317) 632-2664, accepts fresh food. At Second Helpings, chefs-in-training turn the food donations into meals for the hungry. Donation details can be found at its Web site.