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Start Your Fall Vegetables Today

turnips produce early greens and long root harvestsHave your tomatoes and other summer crops let you down by failing to produce anything but caterpillars and dead or moldy leaves?  Do you get a sad feeling when you look at your vegetable garden in its parched and sun-scorched state?  It may be time to pull out your spring and summer garden and prepare for a fall/winter garden.

While fall vegetable gardening can be trickier than spring and summer gardening, it is still quite possible to extend your growing season with a variety of vegetables that continue growing up to and beyond the first frost.  In Chattanooga, the average first frost occurs on October 21, so that means you still have months of vegetable growing opportunities.

The UT Extension publication “Fall Vegetable Gardens” provides a review of how to calculate vegetables suitable for summer planting and fall and winter harvesting.  You can access that publication here.  The basic rule is to take the first frost date, and then subtract the harvest season, the days to maturation, and the days for germination to determine the optimal planting time.  The UT Extension has done all the calculations and the table below provides summary information.  For more detail on plant spacing, review the Fall Vegetable Gardens publication.

If you start putting in your vegetables this time of year, be aware that you will need to carefully monitor growing conditions since fall planting is basically the reverse of spring:  in fall gardening, seeds are planted when the weather is hot and dry, and as plants mature, days grow shorter and cooler and nights are longer and colder.

And if you don’t manage to get your seeds started in time for the table below, remember there are several fall plant sales in our area including the Crabtree Farms Fall Plant Sale September18 and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank’s Fall Plant Sale (date to be announced) in October.

Vegetable Planting Interval Days to First Harvest Length of Harvest Season
Beans, Bush, Snap July 15 to Aug 15 52 to 60 2 weeks or more
Broccoli July 15 to August 15 60 to 70 4 weeks
Cabbage July 5 to August 15 60 to 75 3 weeks
Cauliflower July 15 to August 15 55 to 65 2 weeks
Collards July 1 to September 1 65 to 75 4 to 30 weeks
Kale July 1 to September 1 55 to 65 4 to 20 weeks
Lettuce, leaf July 1 to Sept 15 40 to 50 4 to 6 weeks
Radish Aug 1 to Sept 15 25 to 30 3 weeks
Spinach Sept 10 to Sept 20 40 to 50 3 weeks
Squash, summer July 15 to Aug 15 40 to 50 6 weeks
Turnip greens Aug 1 to Sept 30 30 to 40 Several weeks
Turnip Roots Aug 1 to Sept 30 40 to 65 6 months

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