In my previous post about the greenhouse update I began planting for a fall garden. With that first set of seedlings I planted spinach, lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, and carrots which are good fall crops. I am also trying to grow one more round of cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and sweet peppers which will hopefully make it in before the first frost. According the the almanac that is around the end of October. It also helps that we will have a greenhouse so I can insulate the plants when it starts to turn cooler. I am also planning to add potatoes, arugula, and collards.
The main thing about planting for a fall garden is to plant early. You have to count backwards from the first potential freeze date and use the dates for maturity on the seed packets. I know that I am late to the game as it is already early September, which is two months before the first expected frost. I did plant three gardens around the right time. Using the AeroGarden, I can get the seeds to sprout much more quickly than sowing seeds directly into the soil.
I planted the AeroGarden this weekend with additional seeds for the fall garden. I’m very excited about the new seeds because I also included some new heirloom vegetables. The photographs on the left hand side depict the location of each of the new seeds as well as how I “planted” the seeds into the seed pods. I planted 3-4 seeds per pod with the hope that at least one will sprout. The ones with (H) next to them designate the heirloom seeds. As you can see a lot of the new seeds are greens such as arugula, collards, spinach, and lettuce as well as other fall crops including carrots, broccoli, and onion. I did plant more eggplant even though that is more of a spring/summer crop. However, with the greenhouse going up we can get a longer growing season without the worry of frost killing off the plants. In fact, Nate built additional raised gardens (another two-tiered one!) and also built up the pond with additional layers of stones.
Additionally, I bought lady bugs to release for the gardens to help take care of the whiteflies – unfortunately, they have made an appearance on the squash plants in the gardens. I needed to take immediate action! Nate purchased sticky traps that attract the whiteflies, which I twist tied on the posts around the greenhouse. I also sprayed each of the plants with horticultural oil. This oil smothers all life stages of the whiteflies. You are only suppose to use the oil once every two weeks. As long as the oil takes care of the larvae and adults we won’t have to worry about using the oil on a frequent basis.
I have also looked more into companion gardening, which I think would be in our best interest for the raised gardens. There are benefits to growing more than one plant next to each other in a garden. This helps with regard to pest management. I think one of the more interesting tidbits from the website below describes inter-planting of flowers with vegetable plants. I love the idea of a color background made up of flowers that would be both pretty and aid in pest management. The website lists a ton of plants that can be used for companion gardening. I’ve looked over the list briefly and think that there are several things that are interesting:
1) Basil helps increase growth and flavor of tomatoes and can help repel both flies and mosquitoes. I have three basil plants on the deck so maybe once I get tomatoes growing again, I can intersperse these plants among tomato plants.
2) Beans seem to be good companions for almost any plant; carrots, corn, cucumbers, among many others.
3) Carrots pair well with lettuce, onions, and tomatoes (as well as many others)
4) Garlic is great for pest management – I read all about this before when I planted the garlic in the front yard; check out my post about it “The Stinking Rose”
5) Lettuce does well living in the shade under other plants and I have interspersed the seedlings among the gardens.
and, 6) Okra does great with almost every plant and can shield plants like sunflowers. Peas should be planted underneath the okra which is good to know because I have more pea seeds to plant!
That’s the update for now – fall planting does take some prior planning, but it will be very rewarding as long as everything goes as planned! With the raised gardens almost complete, I can finish planting and work on keeping the plants healthy enough to produce for the long-term.