August is the time to sow your fall vegetable seeds and put transplants in the ground. My family has requested kale, spinach, and lettuce this year. There are so many other delicious vegetables that thrive in our fall weather, such as cabbage, collards, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, onions, and radishes. Are you getting hungry for veggies yet? You can find a chart with recommended planting dates and varieties for fall vegetables here.
To begin, clear out previous crops and work your soil. Because August and September are still hot and frequently dry months, make sure you are able to give your garden adequate, regular moisture. NCSU extension recommends planting seeds at a greater depth than suggested for spring sowing. Like our air temperature, the soil is also hotter and drier now than in spring – perhaps too warm and dry for seeds and seedlings. Seeds of some plants such as lettuce, will not germinate in soil that is warmer than 85 degrees. Shading the soil where lettuce has been planted will encourage seed germination.
Insects and diseases tend to be more common in late summer and fall than in spring, as populations have had a chance to increase over the spring and summer. Be sure to check your new plants frequently. You may choose to apply a pesticide if the damage becomes too great. Follow label instructions for your crop.
Keep in mind that the average first frost date in Durham is October 24, plus or minus 10 days. As that date nears, keep an eye on the weather forecast. Your fall vegetables can be covered at night if there is a threat of frost.
Mark your calendars for a talk about Cool Season Vegetables, August 11, 2013 from 3-4PM at the North Regional Library. Details here