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Fall gardening — fertilizing, weeding and such

Fall gardening is the way to have fresh vegetables right into winter. Many fall gardens are carried over from summer gardens. Tomato plants, okra, peppers and eggplant, if cared for during the summer, continue to produce until a killing frost.

To keep these vegetables producing, control insects and diseases, keep them watered and fertilized and don’t let the garden grow up in weeds. A good fall garden is not just keeping the summer garden alive. It means planting new vegetables to produce in fall and early winter.

Many cool-weather vegetables normally planted in the spring grow and produce better in the fall. Keep in mind that our median date of the first freeze is November 8-12. Vegetables typically planted in the fall are bush snap beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, mustard, onions, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and turnips.

A fall garden is open to attack by insects and diseases just as the summer garden. In some cases, the insect problems are worse. Worms (cabbage loopers and imported cabbage moths) are serious problems on fall cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and collards. Control these leaf-eating worms with one of the biological sprays. Squash bugs are troublesome on fall squash and pumpkins.

Fall vegetables need fertilizer as much as spring and summer vegetables. Don’t count on fertilizer applied in spring to supply fertilizer needs of vegetables planted in late summer and fall. Fertilize before planting and side-dress as needed.

As the danger of frost approaches, pay close attention to the weather predictions. Tender plants often can be protected from an early frost and continue to produce for weeks. When a killing frost is inevitable, harvest tender vegetables.

Don’t abandon the garden when freezing temperatures kill the plants. Clean up the debris, store stakes and poles; take a soil test and row up part of the garden to be ready for planting early Irish potatoes and English peas.

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.