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Community Garden: Fall and winter gardens

 

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Lots of phone calls about fall and winter gardens. I will try to fit as much information as possible into this column and some of it will be a repeat.

Mark SpradlinPrepare your soil. Have you heard that? You don’t want a crust forming and you want the soil to absorb the water. No clumps of clay or just hard dirt. Get your soil analyzed to make sure it has the proper nutrients. You are entering a time when vegetable plants may get a little stressed and they don’t need to be looking for lunch and supper and not be able to find it.

t spend time with them so your seeds from the spring will have to be used if you saved them properly. They should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Look at what seeds you have and see how long it takes to produce something to eat. They are not all the same. You can find carrots that take up to 60 to 150 days to produce. Pay attention!

When planting seeds you should dig a small trench and place the seed in the bottom and cover with the appropriate amount of soil or something like peat moss. The moss covering will moderate the temperature and dry quickly. Remember that in the summer the soil temperature may reach 140 degrees. That can be hard on a young plant but if you have them in a small trench you can help control that temperature.

As the plant grows you can always begin to put dirt back in that trench to fill it back up if you want. Up to you. Try different methods and see what you like best. Some seeds need to only be one quarter of an inch under the soil. That is extremely hard to regulate. A shade screen will help keep the direct sun off the plant and keep the temperature down. A wet piece of burlap will keep the soil moist but not wet and protect the seed. Once the plant begins you need to remove the burlap and provide some shade but continue to keep moist. Now you have to decide when to plant. Good luck!

The key is the first frost or freeze. Some plants will die and quit producing at the first frost or freeze. Other plants will continue to prosper after that freeze and will do well in the snow of the winter. Some winter or fall crops turn sweet after the first freeze that they are exposed to so that is also a consideration when planting. My next column will contain the types of crops to plant. Don’t you just hate that continued stuff?

 

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