Home and Cooking, Seasonal

Getting Your Garden Ready for Fall

I wasn’t fortunate enough this year to get a garden in for Summer, but Arkansas is a great place for preparing a Fall garden! There are lots of crops you can plant now to have a delicious selection before winter!

Starting in August, you can sow your seeds of leaf lettuce, mustard greens, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, kale, collards, and spinach. Make sure you don’t plant them in direct sun, however, as heat will wilt the seedlings before they have a chance to establish. Plant your pea seeds now, as well, and make sure they have something to climb on for the vines to grow.

Finish starting seeds inside for fall crops like Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower. You’ll want to plant these a little later once the heat dies down. Because our area is warmer, we can easily plant a fall crop of potatoes. Try to get them in by the second week of September.

If you did manage to get a summer garden in, harvest vegetables such as beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, and okra regularly to prolong production and enjoy peak freshness into autumn. Continue your regular weeding efforts. Every weed that produces seeds means more trouble next year. Cut down any weeds before they can produce seeds and spread those seeds throughout your yard. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

When September rolls around pumpkins are ripening and when they start show color can be harvested as the color will continue to develop afterward. Just be careful not to damage the surface of the fruit as it will invite mold and bacteria.

It’s finally time for houseplants to come indoors again after their summer vacay because the nights and mornings will begin to get cooler. However, the cooler weather means you can continue planting spinach, lettuce, radishes, arugula, Asian greens, kale, and collards if you haven’t already. Some crops such as parsnips, peas, Brussels sprouts, and kale have enhanced flavor after a frost.

If you’re not feeling a fall garden this is the perfect time to start preparing your soil for next year’s Spring crops! Add fertilizer or manure to your field or plant a cover crop that can be tilled into the soil. Wood ashes contain phosphorous, potassium, and calcium. They can be placed on vegetable gardens and flower beds as a top dressing that will feed into the soil all winter. What a great use for your leftover bonfires!

Home and Cooking, Seasonal

Natural Pest Control

With the changing season, many of us have begun gardens. Growing your food produces fresh, healthy fruits and veggies to fuel your body, and gardening gives you a good workout!

One of the issues I face is pest control, and using harmful pesticides is not an option for me. Because of this, I’ve researched alternative ways to repel pests and better the health of my plants overall. One of the fascinating things I’ve learned about is plant compatibility.

Certain plants help with soil nutrition when grown near each other. Clover, rye, and oats, for example, can be used as cover crops, fixing helpful things like nitrogen in the soil promoting plant growth. They also smother weeds keeping down the growth of these competitor plants. Many plants can help repel pests, attract vital pollinators, and increase growth. Some combos include:

Lettuce and calendula. Calendula attracts slugs, so they feed on them and not the lettuce.

Tomato and basil. Not just a great combo on pizza, basil repels insects, improves growth, and enhances the flavor of tomatoes.

Cucumbers and radishes. Radishes help deter cucumber beetles, acting as a trap crop for flea beetles and other insects.

These are just some of the many combinations in the gardening world! Companion planting is a great way to get the best bang for your buck this summer and increase your garden’s output.