Getting Ready for a Fall Garden

It’s the middle of August and I don’t really feel like going out into the heat to do anything. It’s this way every August.

The cucumbers are pretty much played out. Of the two varieties of cuke – Pickling and Burpless – the Pickling vines went first, turning yellow and withering. That was just as well. We had way more cukes than we could use. Plus, my wife (who is the only one eating them) liked the burpless much better. Pulling out the dying vines made more room for the others, but now, even the remaining burpless are looking rough and are only producing an occasional cuke.

The tomatoes stopped setting fruit a while back when the daytime temperatures got too high. (Tomatoes set fruit in a relatively narrow range of temperatures. If the daytime temperature goes much above 85 or the nighttime temp goes below 70, the flowers fall off without setting.) Fortunately, enough fruit had set so that only now are we coming to the end of it. Equally fortunate, our long spell of 90+ days are nearing the end. Here in the Atlanta area, the heat of the dog days should break in the first week or two of September and then, we hope, the vines will get back to producing new tomatoes for the fall.

So it’s time to start thinking about what I want to plant for the fall. The tomatoes will stay, but the cucumbers will soon be removed. Two weeks ago, I planted seed for eight pole beans (just shy of a square – if I was doing full-on square foot gardening, I would have planted them in three rows of three to fill a one foot square) and they have already sprouted. Today, I planted eight half-runner beans in the square in front of them. Beans take around 60 days from seed to harvest. Our average date for the first killing frost is between the last week in October and the first week of November -so I’m cutting it kind of close…

Other things we want to plant: Onions, Garlic, Spinach, and Turnips. I’m thinking that some of these can be carried over the winter – onions and garlic in particular.

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