AUBURN, Ala.- Fall officially begins September 22, but now is the time to begin changing your garden to prepare for fall vegetables.
“The best thing about the fall season is that it lasts a lot longer than our northern neighbors,” said Ellen Huckabay, a regional agent in home grounds, gardens and home pests with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
For the past few years, Alabama has been seeing warm falls, which allows flexibility for your garden.
“A lot of what we plant in the fall we can keep growing through the winter with a little frost protection because our ground doesn’t freeze,” Huckabay said.
Gardeners may want to rely on someone telling them certain dates to plant a vegetable but that is not a good idea.
Deciding when to plant a vegetable is up to you. (Photo: Pixabay)
“You really have to look at what the weather is going to be like in the next few months to really get a better idea,” Joe Kemble, an Extension specialist and Auburn University professor, said.
Vegetables that will “give a lot of bang for the buck” this fall are lettuce, turnips, collards and radishes, Huckabay said.
People think tomatoes can only be grown in the summer. While a full crop of tomatoes is not guaranteed in the fall, some still will grow.
How you should set up your garden
When you set up your garden, make it get direct sunlight. The sun should hit your garden for six to eight hours, according to Kemble.
Luckily, any soil in Alabama will be successful. The key ingredient is for your soil to drain well, Kemble said.
You do not want your soil to have a lot of pooling water.
Unfortunately, fall means high insect pressure. It is essential for gardeners to have a plan. Several worm pests will impact a traditional fall garden. Armyworms, beet armyworms and pickleworms will most likely be crawling in your garden. Treat these pests with a biological insecticide called dipel, which is a caterpillar stomach poison.
You can also can plant your strawberries for an early spring harvest. Begin planting the strawberries in October and November. Then begin protecting the blooms when the new year begins, Huckabay said.
For more information about home gardens, soil, insects, weeds and more, check out Alabama Extension’s The Alabama Vegetable Gardener.
Featured photo by Pixabay.