Think Ahead for a Fall Garden

Cold-Frame
Cold Frame Photo from Iowa State University Extension

It may seem that our gardening season finishes up as soon as it begins. This is the time, however, to start thinking about fall gardens and succession planting to extend your gardening season.

Start transplants indoors now

Fall gardening can be more beneficial than spring gardening. Some of our spring crops will actually grow better and produce better under cooler fall weather than they do in warmer spring temperatures. The weather often warms up quicker in the spring and can cause our spring crops to bolt or die early with little production. The longer, cooler fall season can be the answer to this problem.

The average first frost date for most of Southeast Nebraska is October 6-16, this comes from data from the High Plains Regional Climate Center. You can use the first frost date to figure out when to plant fall crops. Use the first frost date as a starting point, count backward the number of days to harvest listed on the packet of seeds and add a 10 day fall factor because the plants will mature slower due to the cooler weather. Plants or seeds should be planted in late July to early August.

Some of our fall plants could be started indoors now to get a transplant ready for fall planting season. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and others can be started indoors now so they are ready to be planted outdoors in late summer. Some of these cool season crops need 65-85 days to maturity and may do better if they are planted as transplants. Start them indoors now to be planted in mid-August to ensure harvest prior to heavy freeze.

Order transplants and garlic now to plant in September

Some local nurseries may not carry the transplants for your fall garden later into the season. A lot of the nurseries will clear out plant inventory by the later part of June and may not have these crops available in August for fall gardening. Check around to look for local inventory and see which nurseries will still carry these crops later in the season for fall planting. If you cannot find them locally, you can order seeds or transplants from mail order catalogs or through the online shopping options.

garlic-olga-filonenko-flickr
Flickr image courtesy of Olga Filonenko per CC license.

Garlic is another crop that is planted in the fall, but it isn’t harvested in the fall. Plant garlic in October to be harvested the following June. Garlic needs to be planted in the fall because the new plants need to be exposed to cold soil temperatures for 1-2 months to form the bulb that will be harvested next summer. Even though it is early for planting garlic, you might want to order this early because garlic is difficult to find at planting time.

Plant second round of summer crops

Succession cropping, or double cropping can be done in our gardens as well. This is a gardening technique that allows a gardener to utilize a longer season of growth with multiple or the same crops. An early crop is grown, harvested, cleared off and a new one replaces that first crop. You can also do a staggered planting where you continually plant every week or 2 in the early season or plant an additional crop later in the season for longer harvest. Staggered planting can be helpful to avoid peak insect populations and avoid the majority of the damage on crops. Start your second crop in July if you haven’t already planted again.

Yard and Garden: July 12, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 12, 2019. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 2, 2019. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Sarah Browning, Extension Educator in Lancaster County

1. The first question of the show was about ivy growing on a garage. The caller had Japanese beetles earlier this year and sprayed with sevin. Now he is seeing a lot of flying insects, one looks like a lightning bug. What type of insect would this be and will they cause damage to his ivy?

A. They could be lightning bugs which will not harm your plants. Japanese beetles will come back, it would be best to keep spraying to ensure they stay away. You can use the sevin every 10-14 days or you can use a product containing Azadirachtin which has some repellent properties so it will help to keep the Japanese Beetles away longer.

2. A caller has a newly planted maple tree that has brown spots on the leaves. It looks like something is eating it but she can’t find any bugs. The spots look like brown strips with yellow around it. What is causing that?

A. This could be the tree drying up and getting heat stress. This tree was just planted this year so it isn’t established well and will dry out faster in this heat. She has been watering by hand and that isn’t getting the tree enough water. It would be better if she watered with a small sprinkler for about 45 minutes once a week.

3. This caller has a 40-year-old Ponderosa Pine that had diplodia tip blight that got so bad she removed the tree. There is a blue spruce nearby, would that tree be getting the tip blight as well? The spruce has tips of the branches that are bent over and the needles are all bunched together. What would cause that?

A. Diplodia tip blight will not affect spruces. It is a problem for pines, mostly Austrian and Ponderosa. This is not what is affecting the spruce. The damage on the spruce sounds like sirococcus shoot blight. It is past the treatment time for this disease, but it won’t kill your tree in one season. In the spring spruces can be sprayed with chlorothalonil when the shoots are 1/2-2 inches in length and repeated every 3-4 weeks if frequent rains occur.

Blossom end rot on tomato
Blossom end rot on a tomato

4. What can be done for blossom end rot in tomatoes?

A.  Blossom end rot is when the end of your vegetable that is away from the plant rots and turns black. It occurs on the end of the vegetable that had the flower, hence the name blossom end rot. The cause of this disease is a calcium deficiency, but calcium is in the soil in sufficient quantity, uneven watering will reduce the ability of the plant to access this calcium. Calcium has to be dissolved in water for the plant to be able to obtain it from the soil. Adding calcium to your garden is not effective for managing this problem. Not all of your produce should be affected by this problem, they tend to grow out of these conditions later in the summer, so there is no need to treat your garden for blossom end rot. Maintain moisture and mulch to help with this disorder.

5. A caller wants to know what to plant for a fall garden and when it should be planted.

A. Fall gardens can be very beneficial and work better than spring gardens due to the cooler temperatures and higher amounts of moisture in the fall. Start transplants indoors now for things like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. The average first frost date for most of Southeast Nebraska is October 6-16, this comes from data from the High Plains Regional Climate Center. You can use the first frost date to figure out when to plant fall crops. Use the first frost date as a starting point, count backward the number of days to harvest listed on the packet of seeds and add a 10 day fall factor because the plants will mature slower due to the cooler weather. Plants or seeds should be planted in late July to early August. You can also plant your second crop of warm season vegetables now if you haven’t yet to get a longer harvest period and possibly avoid problems with insects and diseases during their peak time.

6. This caller has a rose bush with something eating the leaves off it. What would cause this and how can it be controlled?

A. This could be from a couple of different issues. Japanese beetles will feed on the leaves of roses and cause the leaf to look like lace with little leaf left besides the veins. Rose slugs can do some damage to roses but it looks worse than it is and the feeding should be nearing completion for the year. If you aren’t seeing the insects, it could be rose chafers that feed at night. It could also be from a disease such as black spot. Look for a product that contains an insecticide and fungicide to help with any of these problems. A liquid would be better than a dust.

7. A caller has brown spots in his lawn. What is the problem and how can he fix it?

A. This could be due to either brown spot or dollar spot. These two diseases are quite common this year due to the wet spring and early summer conditions we faced. In a home lawn it isn’t usually necessary to use a fungicides because the fungi don’t kill the lawn and they are sporadic from year to year. It will fade soon and the grass will green back up. These diseases don’t affect the crown of the grass plant so it will easily grow out of it after a few mowings. Through discussion, we learned that his underground sprinkler system waters the lawn from 1am-6am. It was suggested that he do an irrigation audit and move the time for watering forward to 4am-10am. Watering overnight keeps the lawn wet in the cooler, dark environment which is great for disease development.

8. The final caller of the show have sugar maples that leafed out well this year but now the leaves are turning brown and dropping off the tree. What is causing that?

A. This could be from anthracnose, a fungal disease of the tree. It can infect the leaves and cause them to fall from the tree. It could also be from not watering enough now that the rains have reduced or from scorch. Be sure to water the tree and look for damage on the trunk or girdling roots. Look for borer holes as well and treat with imidacloprid if holes are present. It is most likely from an environmental condition, which we cannot change. The tree should be fine.

Coldframes & Fall Gardening

2015-05-13 11.43.29

This year, gardening has been difficult. We have faced a great deal of challenges. Our early spring gardens didn’t do as well due to flooding. And our summer gardens were late to get planted in many locations because of rainy weather and water soaked soils. Then, the rainy, cool weather shut off and we were faced with hot conditions and many of our plants had a lot of fungal diseases due to the rainy spring.

2014-08-18 07.57.37

So, now the option is to get a great fall garden to help stock your pantry and freezer with preserved vegetables for the winter. Fall gardens are a great way to grow many of our spring vegetable crops again for more harvest or to get harvest from plants that may not have been very productive in the spring. The good thing about a fall garden is that you can have less insect pressure on the plants in the fall because the peak numbers for many of our insect pests is in the summer, and should be tapering off by the fall. Hopefully you already planted your fall garden. They need to be planted in the beginning to the middle of August to ensure a harvest before frost hits.

If you didn’t get you fall garden planted in the beginning part of August, you still may have a chance to extend your growing season. You can build a coldframe. A coldframe is described by Missouri Extension as “a protected plant bed with no artificial heat added”. This is a good way to keep summer plants protected a bit longer into the fall or keep fall plantings a lot further into the fall. You build a box frame that is higher in the back than it is in the front and cover it with transparent plastic. This box is placed over the garden to increase the temperature of it by 5-10 degrees. You can even get a few more degrees warmer if you place a blanket over top of that on really cold nights.

Photo from Iowa State University Extension
Coldframe Photo from Iowa State University Extension

A coldframe garden should be placed on the south side of a building to receive the highest amount of sunlight to keep it warmest. If it gets warm during the day, you can lift the lid of the cold frame and prop it up to ventilate the garden. A coldframe can also be used in the spring to harden off any plants that you grow from seed indoors.

Coldframes are great to use to get a little more production out of some of our summer vegetable crops, especially if we see an early frost. It is also a great way to extend the growing period for many of our fall vegetable crops. This will allow us to go further into the fall.

Yard and Garden: July 10, 2015

Yard and Garden Green LogoThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 3, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Jim Kalisch, Diagnostician and Extension Associate for UNL on East Campus

1. A caller has an unwanted tree growing into her shrubs. Can she use a little bit of Tordon on the stump? Or what can she use for a stump treatment?

A: Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting. Tordon and many of the other products used on parking lots have varying degrees of solubility and will move with water to non-target areas and can cause damage. These products can move off of the parking lot to nearby greenspace and through the rootzones of trees to nearby plants causing damage and possibly death to your desired plant species. That is why these products are only to be used in the locations listed on the label, and not in your home landscape. Instead of using Tordon, a good alternative would be one of the brush killers that are found in many different formulations or Roundup that are labeled for use in our landscapes and won’t harm our non-target plants.

2. A gentleman wanted to know when the best time is for spraying his apple trees for insects found in the apples?

A: Anytime now would be a good time to apply Orchard Fruit Tree Sprays for coddling moth. If you continue to use these products for a few weeks, you will also be able to control apple maggots.

3. A lady has tomatoes that continue to get blight every year that causes spots on the leaves which eventually causes the leaves to turn yellow. She has heard that she needs to clean her tomato cages with bleach water to control the disease. Is this true? How can she control this disease in her tomatoes?

A: Early blight is very common in tomatoes this year due to all the rain we saw this spring. Fungal diseases are easily controlled with good sanitation practices in the garden. The fungal spores can be splashed in rain or overhead irrigation from the soil to the plant leaves and from leaf to leaf. Mulch will help to cover the soil where many of the fungal spores are present from previous years. Removing the leaves at the bottom of the plant when the disease begins to show up will reduce the spread as well. Irrigation should occur from below the leaves from a soaker hose or from drip irrigation rather than from a sprinkler to reduce the spread of these spores, too. Cleaning up the garden in the fall and rotating the crops each year will also help reduce the fungal spores found around the plants each spring. For more information, visit this NebGuide on Leaf and Fruit Diseases of Tomatoes.

mosquito4. A caller was curious what the best control methods for mosquitoes from the backyard for outdoor gatherings this summer would be?

A: Mosquitoes can be controlled for a few days by using a hose-end sprayer with permethrin or bifenthrin which have a longer residual than some other insecticides. These sprays need to focus on the shrubs and trees and tall grasses around the yard where the gathering will occur and they should only be done 2-3 days prior to the gathering. Aerosol foggers that contain pyrethrins can be used shortly before the party begins to help reduce mosquito populations as well. For the time of the gathering, tiki torches and insect repellents containing DEET will help reduce additional mosquitoes.

5. A gentleman has a 30 foot tall silver maple that has water collecting where a branch was removed. Is there anything that can be done to fix this issue and to stop the spread of decay in the trunk?

A: There is no way to stop the water from collecting. Concrete or spray foam should not be added to any holes in trees. Ensure that the best pruning cuts are made at the right time on trees to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place. A good pruning cut should heal over before water can begin to destroy the heartwood of the tree. Watch this particular tree for more signs of decay and dieback to know when it should be removed so that a dangerous tree is not left standing in a yard for a larger hazard.

6. A caller has something that is causing holes on the edge of her garden and lawn and around her shrubs. The holes are 5 inches wide and 6 inches deep. What would cause this?

A: This sounds like it might be a woodchuck. Here is some information on Woodchucks from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Prevention.

7. When is the best time to plant fall gardens?

A: Late July to early August.

planting fall gardens8. An email was recieved that asked about why there are such large numbers of snails this year in the lawn?

A: This year we had an extended spring with cooler weather than usual with very good plant growth, as a result of this we are seeing an increase in snails and slugs. We are seeing a great deal of damage to hosta leaves due to slugs. Slugs can be controlled with pesticides labeled for slugs or with a container of beer placed in the ground so the top of the container is at soil level. The slugs are attracted to the beer and will fall in and drown.

Don’t Forget

If you are a listener to the Yard and Garden show on KUTT 99.5 FM or online or if you are an avid reader of the blog Q&A, please fill out the 2015 Yard and Garden Survey. When you fill out the survey and put down contact information, you will be entered into a drawing for a gift of University of Nebraska-Lincoln goodies, including 2 shopping bags. Your information will not be redistributed or used for any other purposes than to improve the show and to pick a winner for the prize and your contact information is not linked to your answers. To complete the survey, go to: go.unl.edu/7cza

Fall is here, get your plants ready for winter!

Fall weather is upon us again. We can see the end of summer gardening coming to a close. With that, we can get out in our gardens and take care of many different activities to prepare our lawns and gardens for the winter months.

Photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension
Photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension

Summer bulbs can bring a great deal of color and interest to our gardens, however, they do need to be dug up and stored indoors over the winter. Summer bulbs should be dug up prior to the first hard freeze in the fall. These bulbs should be cured before they are stored by leaving them in the sun for a few weeks. After they have cured, place them in peat moss or similar substance in a well-ventilated, cool area for the winter months. Check periodically through the winter if more peat moss is needed.

Houseplant

Houseplants also should be brought back inside this time of the year to avoid injury due to the nighttime cold temperatures. Before bringing houseplants indoors, you may want to treat them with a general insecticide such as sevin or eight to ensure you do not bring any unwanted insect guests into your home.

Cut back iris and peony plants as soon as the leaves start to turn brown in the fall. Remove all of the foliage above ground and discard it to reduce the spread of diseases such as botrytis and leaf blight that we often see on these plants. Wait until early spring to cut back roses and butterfly bushes due to the hollow stem. Pruning these plants back in the spring will help with their survival as during the winter moisture can get into the cut, hollow stems and freeze and thaw, thereby cracking the crown and killing the plant. You can also cut back other perennials such as coneflowers, dianthus, and many others that die back to the ground each year. This will help to clean up your garden area preparing it for new growth next spring.

Tilled garden

With the end of the vegetable gardening season coming to an end, be sure to clean your garden space before winter as well. If a frost is predicted, be sure to check out your garden before that occurs. Get all of the produce out of the garden before the frost occurs or within the next day or two following the frost so that it can still be enjoyed fresh, frozen, or canned. After the plants are finished for the season, be sure to clean all of the plants out of the garden and either compost them or throw them into your trash. If they had any diseases on them, it is best to not compost them to ensure the disease spores do not get into your compost. You can also take the time this fall to till your garden up as preparation for next spring. If you till your garden in the fall, be sure to put some type of mulch on the soil to prevent wind erosion through the winter. Organic mulches, such as grass clippings, make a good mulch to use for this because it can then be tilled back into the garden in the spring adding organic matter to the soil.

Fall Gardening

Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Photo by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

With school beginning again soon, fall will be here before we know it. There are a few things that we can start doing to prepare for the winter or to prepare our fall vegetable gardens. It is good that we can finally see the temperatures starting to go down from those terribly hot and humid days so we can get back outside again, comfortably.

Fall vegetable gardens can be planted soon. Most of our fall vegetables should be planted within the first week or two of August to ensure a good fall harvest before the frost takes the plants out. Those plants that you may have planted in the early spring to get to maturity before it got too hot are the things that are usually planted in the fall. For a fall harvest, plant these crops (from Backyard Farmer online calendar at byf.unl.edu):

  • Beets August 1-10
  • Carrots August 1-15
  • Chinese cabbage August 1-20
  • Lettuce August 1-5
  • Mustard August 1-25
  • Radish August 1-20
  • Snap beans August 1-5
  • Spinach August 20- September 15
  • Swiss chard August 1-20
  • Turnips August 1-15 (from Backyard Farmer online calendar)

The first frost in Beatrice, Nebraska occurs on September 29, on average and is within a week either way for the surrounding counties. So the best way to determine when to plant a fall garden is to count backward from the first frost date and compare it to your harvest time listed on the package. For example, if your lettuce says that it takes 50 days to mature, planting on August 1 will give you mature lettuce by the end of September. This will ensure that you will have a harvest before the frost hits.

If you want to extend your growing season even longer, you can build a cold frame. A cold frame is a miniature greenhouse or a box built over your garden. Cold frames are built with a light-admitting lid, such as glass or plastic film, that helps hold in the heat on the plants growing inside. A cold frame is an inexpensive way to extend your growing season because they can be built at home with only a few supplies. It also keeps the air and soil temperature around the plants up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding environment.

Photo from Iowa State University Extension
Cold Frame Photo from Iowa State University Extension

Another thing that you can do in the fall is to prepare your vegetable garden for spring. If you are done in your garden and your plants have died due to frost or you are just tired of eating all of those cucumbers, you can clean up your garden in preparation for next year. Removing all of the dead plants will help to reduce the diseases and insects that may use them as an overwintering habitat. Also, after removing those plants you may want to till up your ground to get it ready for next spring. This is also a great time to add any compost or manure to your ground if you need to add some nutrients for better plants next year. After tilling it up, you should put some type of mulch on the bare soil to keep it from eroding or blowing off in the wind, grass clippings are a cheap, easy mulch to use.

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