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From the Farm: Fall Gardening Update


fall gardeningThe weather has been rather unpredictable so far this fall, with periods of dry sunny weather followed by storms pushed out of the gulf by hurricanes and tropical storms. We had a slow start to our fall gardening this season at the company farm, but we are rolling along quite nicely with our harvesting now.

Carrots and beets are usually some of the first vegetables to be direct seeded in a fall garden as they generally take a couple of weeks to germinate and emerge from the soil.

Our first round of seeding this year was foiled by heavy rains. Often times if you receive torrential rainfall shortly after direct seeding a crop, it can push the seeds down in the soil and a hard crust forms on the surface when the soil dries making seed germination very inconsistent. Our second plantings came along nicely though and we just harvested a beautiful crop of carrots.

While the primary purpose of our company farm is to provide fresh produce to our employees, it also serves as a place where we can experiment with new growing techniques and plant varieties. Along these same lines, we encourage anyone who enjoys gardening to never stop experimenting with your own garden.

One new thing that we are trying this year is preparing our spring plot in advance. Though this sounds rather mundane, we think it is going to pay off big in a few months.

For last two years, we haven’t been able to get a tractor out in the fields until April due to the constant spring rainfall. Needless to say, this put us well behind on our spring planting and harvesting. We took advantage of some of the dry weather this fall and laid plastic over raised beds on which we will plant all of our spring vegetables.

Field peas and beans were planted in this area over the summer, so those provided some needed nitrogen to our soil when we tilled them under after harvest. A legume crop such as soybeans can add up to 60 pounds per acre of nitrogen if you experience a good stand!

If you are a vegetable gardener in the south, and you haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to broadcast a nice cover crop seed mix into your fall garden in order to build and protect your soil through the winter months.

The type of cover crop you choose depends on your goals for your particular soil type, but a good simple fall mix is cereal rye and crimson clover. The rye gives you good biomass to add organic matter to your soil and clover helps fix nitrogen.

We hope everyone has a Happy Halloween and we look forward to sharing more updates from our farm in the coming months.