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It’s fall vegetable time

Summer is beginning to retreat and crisper fall air will arrive before we know it. This is my favorite time to have a vegetable garden. Cooler temperatures mean fewer insects, diseases and weeds. Lower humidity means it’s simply a great time to be outside.

Frost will eventually take out the last of our summer crops such as squash, tomatoes, eggplant and okra. Cabbage, turnips, mustard, radishes, lettuce, beets and broccoli enjoy the cool days of autumn and early winter. Many of these will take a fairly stout frost and still be OK.

Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and kohlrabi are all good crops for fall gardens. They are best started from transplants but can be direct-seeded, too. The later you start, the smarter it becomes to transplant to cut the time to maturity. Establishing plants after late September may not yield good results. Most of these crops take 70-80 days to mature.

Most leafy greens such as turnip, mustard and lettuce can be direct seeded. We prefer to plant in blocks, seeded a week a part extending our harvest. Radishes are done the same way. They will be ready for the table in about four weeks. Beets and Swiss chard, both hardy crops, mature in about 60 days. Plant these in time to harvest before hard freezes.

If you haven’t cleaned off the remains of your summer garden, maybe this will motivate you to get started. It can be a lot more fun to garden in the crisp fall air than the oppressive heat of our summer.     

Rebecca Bates is an MSU Extension-Lincoln County agent, and can be reached at 601-835-3460 or by e-mail at rebecca.bates@msstate.edu.