2018-03-04 sc-mastergardp1 (copy)

Now is the time to start fall vegetable gardens. Bill Sevier/for the Tulsa World

I’ve heard good things about fall gardening but know nothing about it. When can I start and what can I plant? JP

For many gardeners, gardening is a year-round adventure, not just something we do in the spring and summer. And as summer is starting to hit full steam, now is the time to start planning and getting ready for your fall garden.

When we talk about fall gardens, we split fall garden vegetables into two categories: tender and semi-hardy. Tender vegetables won’t make it past the first frost. Semi-hardy vegetables can endure several frosts and keep producing.

Tender varieties, such as pole beans, bush beans, cilantro, eggplant, peppers, pumpkin, squash and tomatoes, among others, can be planted starting around mid-July.

Semi-hardy crops can be planted a little later. These would include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, etc.

Fall gardening has several advantages. One of those is that you can get some of the best quality vegetables from your plants due to the warm days and cool nights later in the season. Another advantage comes from the fact that some of the insects we have been battling won’t be as much of a problem due to the timing of their life cycle. But it’s not all fun and games because we still have July and August to deal with.

In the spring, we are challenged with cold soil temperatures so many of us start our seeds indoors and move the plants outdoors when the soil has warmed up. In the fall, we do the same thing but for opposite reasons: We start our seeds indoors so they can germinate in cooler conditions and then move the plants outdoors.

Direct seeding becomes problematic for fall gardens and may require extra effort on your part due to high soil temperatures. Exposed soil on a hot day in July and August can warm up to 140 degrees. This presents challenges to direct seeding as these high temperatures will prevent germination. If you do direct seed, you will need to protect those tiny seeds by using a thick layer of mulch or perhaps covering them with shade cloth to help keep the soil cooler.

We have a great fact sheet on our website that gives you a list of veggies you can grow in your fall garden, as well as information on when to plant, how to plant and number of days before harvest. You can find it in our Hot Topics section on our homepage.

Also, if you are new to gardening or just want to learn more, you can sign up for our Online Urban Gardener classes and learn about soil, vegetable gardening, pollinator gardens, trees and shrubs, and turf management. Info on these classes can be found by clicking on the Urban Gardener link on our homepage at tulsamastergardeners.org.

Good luck and happy gardening.

Get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th St., or by emailing mg@tulsamastergardeners.org.