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Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Posted by okiedawn Z7 OK (My Page) on
Fri, May 30, 08 at 11:23

Well, today I sat down with a notebook and started trying to figure out what plants are going to go where in the fall garden. Every year this drives me nuts, because I have to figure out where plants will go a month or two from now.

Everything in the garden looks great right now and it is hard to imagine the lovely lush plants I see won't last forever. BUT, experience tells me that a garden that is lovely and green and productive in late May or early June will be mostly burnt up and used up by mid-July to late-July or early August.

So, for anyone else who wants to plant a fall garden, here are some planting dates to use in your planning. This first set of dates is from OSU's fall planting guide. I kind of follow them, but not totally.

JULY 15-AUG 15:

Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Carrots
Parsnips

AUG 1 - AUG 15:

Beets
Irish Potato
Leaf Lettuce (This is the date recommmended by OSU, but I think it is too hot in southern OK in August, so I wait at least until Sept. 1)

AUG 1 - AUG 25:
Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage
Cauliflower

AUG 1 - SEPT 1:
Collards

AUG 1 - SEPT 15:
Swiss Chard
Turnip

AUG 15 - SEPT 1:
Peas (green, not southern)

AUG 15 - SEPT 15:
Rutabaga

AUG 15 - OCT 10:
Radish

SEPT 1:
Kale Kohlrabi
Leek
Onions

SEPT 1 - OCT 15:
Garlic

SEPT 5 - SEPT 25:
Spinach

SEPT 10 - OCT 10:
Mustard

Because I lived in Texas forever, I still use my fall gardening dates from Texas to help me figure out what to plant when. Here's their planting dates for the part of North Texas that is just across the Red River from me.

These dates are for SEED sown directly into the garden.

JUNE 15:
Eggplant
Pepper
Tomato

JULY 1:
Southern Peas (Black-eyes, cream, crowder, etc.)
Pumpkin
Winter Squash

JULY 25:
Bush Lima Beans

AUGUST 1:
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Cucumber
Garlic (from cloves, not seed)
Irish Potato

AUG 10:
Sweet Corn

AUG 15:
Bush beans (green, purple, yellow or bicolor)
Carrots
Swiss Chard
Summer Squash

SEPT 1:
Beets
Kohlrabi
Leaf Lettuce
Mustard
Spinach

OCT 1:
Parsley (overwinters)
Radish

OCT 15:
Turnip

If Planting From TRANSPLANTS:

JUL 10:
Eggplant
Pepper
Tomato

AUG 20:
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower

One reason it is so hard to figure out what to plant when and where is that the summer garden sometimes is still going strong when it is time to plant fall crops. I use several creative ways to get around this. For example, if the okra survives the repeated deer attacks and is still productive, I plant lettuce on the east or north side of the okra (depending on which way that year's okra bed runs) and let the okra shade it.

If the summer tomatoes are somehow surviving the annual onslaught of disease and bugs, I often cut them back, or only remove sickly or less-productive ones. Then, I put some of the fall crops where I took out those particular spring-planted tomatoes.

Sometimes I feel like I simply CANNOT touch the spring-planted garden because it is going like gangbusters. In those cases, I get out the tiller and make the garden still larger so I can plant fall plants.

Usually, though, I put in fall crops as I harvest spring-planted crops like onions, potatoes, earlier beans, early or mid-season corn, etc.

And for some plants, like Cucumbers, that produce as expected and then decline fairly quickly in our heat, I'll take out the old ones and plant seed for new ones in the exact same spot.

Planting a fall garden is hard. Sometimes I wish I had an entire second garden plot just for fall crops. I could plant a cover crop in it in early Spring, till the cover crop into the ground in late-May, and start planting the fall garden in June. (I don't think my DH would like this plan at all. And, truthfully, I dread the idea of having to till up soil, remove grass roots, enrich the soil, build raised beds, etc. all over again.)

Fall gardening can be just as risky, frost and freeze-wise, as spring gardening. In my location, the average fall frost usually arrives in November and sometimes as late as mid-December. However, in other years it is MUCH earlier--either our first or second year here, we had a very hard killing frost on September 30th.

For me, planting fall tomatoes is the hardest part of it. They need a lot of room to grow and I hate taking out the spring tomatoes as long as they are still bearing. When I decide to carry over all the spring-planted tomatoes, I usually regret it, though. In July or August, it is almost a given the spring-planted tomatoes will get hit by either spider mites or stink bugs. Fresh plants are not really susceptible to either--the pests seem to go for the older, stressed plants, so I know it is important to plant new ones for fall.

In a year like this where the cool nights hang on forever, the garden might be just reaching its' most productive point at the time that I need to plant the new fall crops. Sometimes I get around this by starting plants in paper cups instead of direct seeding them. That way, I can harvest the "old" plants for 2 or 3 weeks longer. I then plant, cup and all, to reduce transplant shock and the "new" plants usually take off pretty fast as long as they are being watered.

Dawn


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Great information, already printed this out. I missed the Spring garden already with the move and all but this summer I am starting a fall one and this is just what I needed to know.


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Hi Oskiegarden,

I hope you have a great fall garden. If you decide to use some of the Texas dates, you might want to plant even a week or two earlier, if you are in Central OK, or 2 to 3 weeks earlier if you are in northern OK. (Of course, it all depends on the date of the average freese/frost for your county, etc.). In southern Oklahoma, my soil, climate and weather are very, very close to that of the Dallas-Fort Worth area (and the same is probably true for most folks south of the Arbuckles) so I only have to tweak the dates a tiny bit most years.

I was so eager to have a garden on our land here that I planted one in the spring of '98, even though we weren't even planning to start building the house until late summer of '98 and, in fact, didn't move in until February 1999. That first year, we didn't have water so I used to haul it up here every weekend in buckets, jugs and coolers (anything that would hold water!) Of course, the first garden was very small, only two raised beds about 3' wide and 10' long, but it was better than nothing. I think I only had tomatoes, peppers, carrots, a little okra, some zinnias and some hollyhocks. I've been making up for it ever since by planting a garden that is a little larger every year!

I just ate a BLT, with a fresh Better Bush tomato from the garden, for lunch, so I am in a pretty good mood. Now, it is back outdoors to mow and weedeat in spite of our second Ozone Alert day in a row. DH and I think the ozone is blowing up from the metroplex, because there's not enough going on in Love County to create that much ozone.

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Don't suppose you have a similar list for perenials?


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Hi!

It's good to see you here on GardenWeb!

I don't. I tend to plant perennials whenever I find them at the nurseries, or if I am raising them from seed, I try to start them indoors in flats in the dead of winter--normally January or February--and plant them outside when they are large enough to survive whatever late winter to late spring weather we're having. Sometimes, with very careful mulching and watering, you can plant perennials during our hottest months too. (I love finding them on clearance sale in the hot months!)

If you will list the perennials you are interested in planting, some of us can then advise you further.

Or, if you are not sure what will grow in your soil, just tell us what kind of soil you have, whether you're planting in full sun, full shade, partial sun, etc., and we can list some plants we grow in similar conditions!

If you had some favorite plants at your previous home and you are wondering if they'll grow here as well, list them and we'll see if anyone grows them here and responds.

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Dawn - you direct sow your fall tomatoes? You must be very precise in your planting methods then. To me, tomatoe seeds are very, very small. Do you plant a few in one location and leave the strongest (while plucking out the weaker ones) to continue growing?

Susan


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Thanks for the tip - I had been almost to Waco - in the start of Hill Country and now am heading to OKC... not a city boy but going to get some training and just need to make it work for a year or two. After that we will be heading out to Western OK - that is where are are from - long long ago ;-)

Mitch


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

This is so exciting. You guys are making me more interested in gardening. I had given up a few years ago when most of what we planted were eaten by rabbits and other garden pests. I didn't know how to overcome these things and felt gardening was not for me. But now I want to really learn and all these lists of what to plant just inspires me.

Dawn, you should write a book if you haven't done so yet!

Thanks again.


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Mariposa,

The only thing that works for me with the rabbits is a good fence and it has to be firmly anchored to the ground to keep them from burrowing under it. I had a woven wire fence with 2" x 3" openings and a younger rabbit can crawl through that, so I went back and attached 1" chicken wire to the bottom two feet of the fence, and that worked just fine. I also "bribe" the rabbits to stay outside the garden by leaving little piles of henscratch or birdseed OUTSIDE the fence. They eat that hen scratch every morning and every night but don't bother my plants at all.

As for a book (sigh), it is often suggested here that I write one, but there are already many thousands of gardening books out there and I doubt I could say anything about gardening that hasn't been said a million times before. But, thanks for the compliment.

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Dawn, I went to Atwoods and bought some seeds. According to the packet, they say that most of the things I bought could be planted in July/August.

This is what I got:

Spinach
Pak Choy
Turnip (seven top)
Radish (cherry belle)
Mustard, India (florida broad leaf)
Spinach
Beet (detroit dark red)
Broccoli
Chinese cabbage

Do I go with the dates they recommend for planting or wait awhile? For example, Chinese cabbage says late July/August.

Broccoli says June/July.

Any tips? I was hoping to plant all of these in containers. We bought some big plastic half barrel looking pots at Atwoods. They're about 24-28" wide.

If you have any thoughts, experience, or suggestions on what I plan to plant, please let me know.

Mari


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Thyme

These are my new babies Dawn. Remember I was asking about Cuban Oregano? I got the Variegated and Portuguese Oregano as well. I am thrilled to bits.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Mari,

Nice plants! I'm assuming you found them at Atwood's as well.

With the seeds you found, I'd go with the planting dates in the first thread at the top of this page, BUT you can start the seeds indoors and then transplant the baby plants outside at the proper planting time if you want to. I don't go with the planting dates on seed packets because they are too general and do not take into account the wide temperature variations in warmer parts of the country. For example, they show more or less the same dates for zone 8 areas, but zone 8 on the Oregon coast in July is not at all like zone 8 in Georgia in July, so you have to go with locally-recommended dates. The plant hardiness zones are based on lowest winter temperatures, not hottest summer temperatures (although there are less widely used heat zones) so they aren't very helpful for us at this time of year.

With most cool-season planting dates, it is hard to get good seed germination in the ground or in containers outside if temperatures are exceeding 90-95 degrees, so I start most of mine inside in those little bathroom-sized paper cups. Once the seeds sprout, move them outside to a semi-shady spot where they get dappled shade or only a couple of hours of full sun. Gradually increase their sunlight by an hour or so a day....1st day, 1 hour of sun, 2nd day, 2 hours, etc. This is known as hardening off the transplants. Once they are sufficiently hardened off, you can plant them in the ground or in their permanent containers.

I like to pre-soak my seeds in water for 12 hours and then either pre-sprout them wrapped in paper towels or coffee filters (the seeds sometimes stick to paper towels, but not to coffee filters) for a couple of days, then plant them in the paper cups. Once they sprout and have a couple of true leaves, you can harden them off and transplant them into containers. You don't have to pre-soak the seeds or pre-sprout them, but I have found I get better results when I do.

I don't start root crops like beets or radishes or carrots in paper cups, but just plant them outside on the dates gives in the first post at the top of this thread. Root crops don't transplant well.

If you plant spinach or turnip greens too early, they'll sprout and then die because they can't take the heat.

With a fall veggie garden, you can't plant more than a week or two earlier than the dates listed by OSU because the plants can't take too much heat. The idea is to get them started in the heat and then, as the weather cools off beginning in September, they will really take off and do well. If they try to "take off" and grow too much while it is too hot for them, they just won't make it.

Starting them inside and then gradually hardening them off gives you nice-sized transplants by planting time. In the spring, we have to be careful that we don't rush plants outside while it is so cold that they will freeze and, in the fall, it is the exact opposite, we have to time them carefully so they won't burn up.

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Thanks Dawn. As you can see, I have gotten very excited about gardening, but I do need to calm down a bit and not plant things before time.

My sister sent me some Borage seeds. These are from her garden so I don't know if it is okay to plant now.

She also sent me some wax bean seeds.


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Mari,

If the borage seeds were collected by your sister from this year's plants, I think they will germinate just fine without a period of cold stratification because I often get self-sown seedlings in the same season. Wax beans could be planted now too.

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Dawn, I just noticed parsnips under July 15-Aug 15. Is this correct? I've never heard of planting them any time except very early spring.

George


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

George,

I just wrote a book about this on the other thread, but the short answer is that the further south you go, the more correct it is.

It's REALLY hard to get them to sprout (I soak them in water and pre-sprout them in coffee filters in zip-lock bags) and THEN plant them out into the ground. You have to keep the ground (here in southern OK) really moist and mulched, and shading it for the first month helps. They are slow to grow and I have to weed them religiously or the faster-growing heat-loving grassy weeds will crowd them out.

As I said in the earlier thread, I am really closer to zone 8a than 7b for probably 60% or 70% of our winters, so cool-season crops work better for me in fall than spring. I'm kind of used to it, though, having lived in zone 8 before we moved here.

And, in a year when autumn is "late" and the mild temperatures hold into December or even January, my fall garden outproduces a spring garden, except for onions and potatoes which always do better for me in spring.

Your conditions are quite different from mine in terms of fall, winter and spring temperatures, although very similar in the summer, so....as they often say on the tomato forum.....your mileage may vary. (smile)

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Dawn
I've saved this thread to fave's, but like you, it is a BEAR to try and figure out when, what, and where to plant.
I'm glad the subject of parsnips came up, (thanks George!), because I really want some for this winter to go in stews with other root veggies!

So....do you soak your parsnip seeds, and then place them in coffee filters, and in zip lock baggies to sprout in the fridge----or out of the fridge?

I know a lot of us would love to have parsnips in our gardens if there was an easier fix on getting the lazy things going.

Thanks for the list and dates as well. Very helpful. I've been going slightly nutz today placing orders and trying to figure out what cultivars, planting dates, etc. Your list made it a WHOLE lot easier :)

Barbara


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Hello Everyone!

Dawn, I am very lucky to have a second bed that I plant my very early stuff in the spring (lettuce, spinach, peas, etc.) and then will use it for the first time for a fall garden. I've stared Pac Choi, kale, Broccoli,January King Cabbage, Apollo Broccoli, Amazing Cauliflower, Franklin Brussel Sprouts, and romaine. I started the seeds inside last week and had full sprouting. I will probably plant then outside in early September along with spinach, carrots and turnips. This is really an experiment this year. I hope I haven't made a big mistake by not paying attention to planting dates. this bed is out of the full force of the elements, so maybe it will be okay. i notice Dawn that you had August 1 for direct seeding for broccoli, b. sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, so may I'll be alright. And yes, you should write a book!
I spent the afternoon making curry squash relish with the tonnage of patty pans that I have. It didn't turn too bad.
I think everyone I deliver eggs to this week will get free squash. I have managed to keep up with the zucchini, but the pps are a totally different story!
Bella


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Barbara,

I usually sprout them at room temperature, in a house where the thermostat stays at about 72 and it can take them 2 to 4 weeks to sprout--they are notoriously slow, and they need to go into the ground as soon as they sprout. They grow slowly in the hot weather and then better as it cools off.

I have mild winters. George is at the other end of the state and has harsher winters so he plants his in spring. I don't know which works better in central OK--fall or spring planting. To put parsnips in the ground (I'm not growing them this year), I'd start pre-sprouting the seed in mid- to late-June to get them in the ground in mid- to late July. It is too late now, I think, to start trying to sprout them because you likely wouldn't get them into the ground until late August to mid-September---unless you're feeling adventurous.

Hi Bella,

You've been busy. The thing about the fall garden is that none of us knows if the first frost will hit extra-early in September or extra-late in December, so we don't know what we can "get away with" in terms of starting early/late, etc. All the dates are just 'best guesses' and I aim for those dates, but run late sometimes and usually the stuff planted late does just fine.

I don't grow pattypan squash because I got tired of trying to keep up with it---it's one of those crops that just wears you out.

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

This is such great information! Thanks Dawn! I was wondering about dry beans. Will they work for a fall crop or do they have too long of a season? I'm in OKC.


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Worth a bump. " Fresh plants are not really susceptible to either--the pests seem to go for the older, stressed plants, so I know it is important to plant new ones for fall." was exactly what I wanted to know. But I got so much more from this wonderful thread.


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Somebody tell me about fall onions. I am just north of Tulsa. I just pulled all the small red onions we planted from starts in the spring. They were all laying down, but none were very big. Can you get starts this time of year for fall planting? Can you plant seed in the fall, overwinter, and have spring onions? What about multiplier onions?


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

I started my storage cabbage yesterday. This weekend my gourds and black bean will be planted. After that there something or some things to start or plant almost every week to about the middle of August.
The spring plants are just about finished. I am still getting lots of peas but the rest are eaten or stored already.
The summer plants are going good.
For fall my plan calls for
Beets
Broccoli
Brussel sprouts
Red cabbage and storage cabbage (some of that will end up as kraut.)
Carrots
Cauliflower
Lettuce
Spinach
Chinese cabbage
Parsnips
Pumpkins (already planted)
Radishes
Turnips
Rutabaga
And winter squash (already planted)
I love fall.

Robet


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Bon, I'm glad you found useful info in a thread this old.

Amy, Bundles of onions for transplanting in the ground at this time of the year are not available because the plants would not grow and perform like those planted in spring. Bulbing onions bulb up in response to temperature and daylength, with day-length meaning the number of hours of daylight per day. We plant our tiny onion plants in the ground in winter when the daylength is fairly low, and they bulb up a few months later as the temperature and daylength reach the right range for them. Planting them when the daylength is long in summer and beginning to grow shorter as the summer weeks pass by wouldn't give you the results you want. What would happen is that shortly after you planted them in summer, they would react to the current daylength and try to bulb up now---giving you bulbs about the same size as the plants you just planted.

You cannot plant onion seed outdoors in the fall and overwinter the plants in the ground unless you live somewhere like south Texas where winter temperatures usually stay above freezing all winter. Your tiny onion plants would freeze at some point here in Oklahoma because they usually freeze once the temperatures hit the low 20s. Sometimes it doesn't kill them---they might freeze back to the ground and then regrow, but repeatedly freezing back to the ground and regrowing over and over throughout the winter uses up all their energy and makes it less likely you'll get large onion bulbs (or any bulbs at all) in the spring. What is more likely is that even if you got the seed to sprout and grow and to somehow survive winter's low temperatures, they still would be likely to bolt (form flowerheads, bloom and set seeds) instead of bulbing up in the spring.

Autumn is the right time to plant multiplier onions. Most companies that sell multiplier onions to southern customers only ship them in the fall precisely because that is the right planting time for them. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange usually has a nice selection of perennial onions. You can order them any time in the summer, and they will ship them at the right time for your zone in the fall. I'll link their perennial onion page for you to give you an idea of what is available. There are many other sources as well. I just happen to like SESE because it has varieties known to perform in the south.

You probably could sow seed now for multiplying onions like Evergreen White Bunching onion. I've only sown seed for them in late winter/early spring but think it likely the seed would sprout and grow at almost any time of the year.

Robert, You're ahead of me. I did actually get my seed box out yesterday and flip through it to see what I have, but I haven't planted any of them yet. I will soon, though. I'm ready for fall and looking forward to it as well, but we have to survive the long, hot, summer first. Since I'm further south than pretty much everyone else in OK (Cooke County, TX, sits directly to my west, south and east), my fall planting dates are later than almost everyone else's here in OK.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Perennial Onions at SESE


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Thank you Dawn. Hubby asked me about the fall garden today. I can be enthusiastic, because its not really hot and weedy yet. Don't know how I'll feel the end of July :)


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Amy, I was really confused about onions for a long time. I was burdened with needing to start onions from seed, too. And that's just because I knew I wouldn't be able to penny up and order starter onions in the spring.

You can grow from seed in Oklahoma if you do your homework. I did from last year and will do a very large trial starting this fall.

Essentially, to grow in Oklahoma one must first grow their own starter sets - like those purchased in the spring. Sow them in or near September equinox. They won't overwinter in ground as Dawn writes, so you must pull them before freezing weather and store them properly to be replanted in spring. That info can be found online. This much is really a hassle and it makes no sense to do so if you can buy starts or sets in the spring. I cannot.

I started mine in a cold frame. Being lazy, I left them there to see how they would do. They were perfect. They were strong, even. And they sure looked better than the ones in the stores when spring rolled around. They got transplanted to the garden area when the spring temps warmed up just as everyone plants their starts. Then, someone was willing to plow my back yard late spring so they got plowed and buried. The ones I found while sifting weeds got put back into the garden. These are lying on my porch drying right now and are bout 2"-3" in diameter. Tough stuff!

I can only hope they'll be righteous next year without the abuse and the extra transplant. I remember asking Dawn about it and she said they'd probably survive an extra transplant but would be small. She was right.

For anyone interested, here's the thread where I got started. The Dixondale Onion site offers very good information, too. There are many other threads, too.

"Growing Onions in Oklahoma"


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Amy, You're welcome. I can tell you how I will feel in July. I'll be sick of the heat, the heat, the heat and the lack of rain, and the fire ants will be making me crazy and the snakes will have me hiding in the house and venturing out into the garden, gingerly and cautiously, doing my best to harvest veggies and not harvest any venomous snakes.

I'll be exhausted from canning all day every day, and wishing for a nice cold front to hit for a couple of days, and I'll be thinking that if I wasn't a gardener, I could spend my whole summer chilling inside in the A/C and not burning up outside while pulling weeds, watering, planting new stuff for fall, hand-picking and destroying pests. Then, I'll go out to the garden early in the morning when it is still and quiet, and I'll harvest a bunch of produce, spend a little early morning time weeding or mulching or whatever, and will rush back inside before it hits 90 or 95 degrees before noon....and I'll be bored (but cool and comfortable) inside and wishing it wasn't so hot so that I could be outside in the garden. Then I'll do the canning, clean up the kitchen, and look at all those jars lined up on the counter cooling, and I'll remember why it is important to plant a fall garden....because I'll miss it if I don't.

Having said that, we still are in Extreme Drought here with poor prospects for much rain over the next few days, so.....

If the drought continues and we're having lots of fires and I have no time and I'm just freezing tomatoes and peppers so I can make salsa later, then I won't plant a fall garden because I won't have any time, energy or water, and that will be okay. We have to deal with whatever we get in any given year.

I am starting to think I am doing gardening all wrong, with most of my plants in the ground from late winter through late autumn. I should be growing them in a heated greenhouse or high tunnel from early autumn through late spring, and then take the summer off to stay inside in the air conditioning. Some days I look at the dry, parched ground on a hot day and ask myself why in the world we think we can/should garden here in the summer months!

Dawn


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Dawn, down where you are, winter gardening, whatever method you use, sounds like a good idea. Chickencoup, I think a cold frame sounds like a good idea. We have raised beds, 4 x 4 and have used pvc to put up bird nrtting, so plastic for winter is not out of the question. Thanks for the link.


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

It probably sounds better than it would work in reality. Because we are in a low-lying creek hollow in the already low-lying Red River Valley, we get surprisingly cold surprisingly often. There are many times where the overnight low recorded at our OK Mesonet station is 5-10 degrees lower than the overnight low recorded in OKC and almost anywhere north of OKC. It is vexing. I wouldn't mind being so cold at night in winter if it also kept us colder in summer, but it doesn't. We are in zone 7b, but we usually have a handful of nights per year where our overnight low drops down to somewhere between 1 and 5 degrees, which makes me feel more like we live in zone 7a. We moved here from zone 8, and ended up not only with colder winters but hotter summers as well, so there are times when the weather is making me crazy and I wonder why we ever left zone 8. We're here to stay, though, so I just try to work around the summer heat in whatever way I can.

It used to be easier to get a fall garden started in mid-summer than it has been in recent years. It just seems like the last few summers have been such hard ones.

I have been pondering this, though, and I cannot imagine that having to heat the greenhouse in winter would be any more costly than having to water a garden in the insane heat and nearly constant drought of the summer. Usually I only use the greenhouse to overwinter some plants that are only marginally hardy here, or sometimes I have tomatoes and peppers, and lettuce and other greens, growing in there in the winter time, albeit without the heat that the tomatoes and peppers really need.

When I am outside working in the miserable heat, though, the thought keeps running through my mind that there has to be a better way to do all this. I try to work all morning, come in during the middle of the day, and then go back outside in the late afternoon to work until dark. I ask Tim every year to build me a Bio-Dome over the garden so we can air condition it. Shockingly, he refuses....not that it ever was a serious question anyway.


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RE: Planning the Fall Garden: It's Hard!

Dawn,
I agree about the heat. Working out in the garden even in the morning can be brutal in July and August. Yet when October rolls around and all the plants are piling food up for storage or in December or January with all those steaming veggies on the table I always remember why I do it.
Talk about THE definition of 'fruits of your labor.'

Robert


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