Yard & Garden Report


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Sowing fall vegetables

This is the best time of year to sow spinach, kohlrabi, beet, radish and turnip.

Kohlrabi in gardenSummer is in full swing and we’re starting to harvest from our gardens. It’s wonderful to be enjoying fresh vegetables! Don’t stop now. We still have time to sow seeds for this fall’s harvest.

I love the cool weather of fall—and so do many vegetables. Beets, spinach and Swiss chard can all be sown now. Don’t forget about herbs—you can sow basil and cilantro in fall and dry them to enjoy over winter.

Try kohlrabi—you will be delighted with its mild cabbage flavor (top photo). Its crazy looking bulbs remind me of the spaceships in old movies!

Most people hate turnips, but that’s because we grow them at the wrong time of the year. Turnips, kale, Asian greens, and many other crops taste better when they ripen in fall. The cool nights of autumn increase the sweetness of the vegetables.

Radishes often taste bitter when sown in spring. This is because they develop bulbs under warming temperatures. Sow your radishes in August and they will develop bulbs during the cool nights of September. The radishes will be crisp and mild (bottom photo). You will be amazed at the difference.

'French Breakfast' radishesTo plant a fall garden, begin by removing any debris from the vegetables that have stopped producing. Then replenish the soil with a light layer of compost or peat moss. A light application of fertilizer will also restore the soil’s fertility.

Sow your seeds when the soil is moist. Use early maturing cultivars that will ripen before our first hard frost, which is typically September 25 to October 5.

The soil is warm this time of year. You may wish to lightly mulch the soil with some straw or dried grass clippings. Weeds are less of a problem in fall plantings.


Written by Tom Kalb, Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Published in the NDSU Yard & Garden Report, July 21, 2014. Photos were made available under Creative Commons licenses specified by the photographers: ingrid eulenfan and Mo.

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