Gardening in the fall

You may think that as we head into the fall season, your time in the garden is limited. But there are still some vegetables that do well in cooler weather.

We recently talked with gardening expert Luann Finke about the art of fall gardening. "In July, we planted beans, okra, zucchini, and cucumbers. Those are thriving now," Finke said. "In August, we planted beets, kale and radishes. Those are cool season crops, so we know that if the temperatures drop, they are going to tolerate that bit of frost, and in fact the flavor gets better with the cooler nights."

Finke says September is not too late to plant those shorter season, cool season crops like radishes and beets. "Many years we have harvested the first week of November, as long as didn't have snow or long periods of cold," Finke said.

While September might still be the time to plant cool season vegetables, it's also a good time to start getting the garden ready for next year. "I think the number one thing to do know is weed control," Finke said. "It's far too easy to say, 'I've had it', and not weed the garden. If you can get ahead of the weed seeds that are being produced now, it will reduce the problem you'll have next year. So if nothing else, go in and cut everything back. Run over it with a lawn mower, and gather the clippings to get that weed seed that has developed out of the garden."

Another weed suppression effort involves taking grass clippings and laying them down on the garden. "We have a lot of grass clippings in our garden," Finke said. "That helps us stay ahead of the weeds. But also, that is going to be the organic matter that we roto-till into the garden this fall, and next spring gardening will be so much easier. So, if you've done the prep work in the fall, you are ready to go in the spring."